Starbucks’ Oleato coffee drinks are reportedly causing 'gurgling stomachs, burning throats'

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Is adding olive oil to coffee a wise thing to do? Health experts give their side of the story

Mixing coffee, expresso, oatmilk, and olive oil sounds weird enough to begin with, but now that mixture is allegedly creating stomach issues for people who drink one of Starbucks’ Oleato drinks.

According to Nation’s Restaurant News (NRN), Twitter posts, and Reddit threads, Starbucks customers and baristas were the first to sound the alarm on the new product.

When Oleato was first released, reviews were mixed, and even though some on social media have recently praised the drink, NRN said that in a subreddit for Starbucks baristas, one barista wrote that when their team tried the Oleato, half of them ended up in the bathroom. 

“So far my stomach is gurgling and my throat is burning. Not sure if it’s the olive oil,” added another on Twitter.

ConsumerAffairs reached out to Starbucks for comment, but did not immediately hear back. 

Is olive oil safe to use in coffee? Health experts weigh in

When Oleato was introduced, Starbucks heralded it as “raising the bar on coffee innovation” and the company was very positive that the drink’s mix of ingredients was perfectly acceptable. A Starbucks spokesperson even told Verywell that enjoying a daily spoonful of extra virgin olive oil is an Italian family tradition that “nourishes the soul.” 

“Maybe Oleato drinks are just that—soul nourishment,” said Verywell’s Stephanie Brown, but when Brown reached out to nutrition experts, she found that some were cautious about signing their name to anything that said there were any health benefits of the drinks.

“Both olive oil and coffee provide positive health benefits on their own,” Vandana Sheth, RDN, CDCES, FAND, a registered dietitian nutritionist who owns a nutrition consulting business in Los Angeles, told Verywell in an email. “I would be intrigued in trying the new coffee drinks out of curiosity. However, I am not sure you need to have them together in a drink.”

But mixing olive oil and coffee isn’t some kind of magic elixir that offers drinkers extra nutritional benefits. Alice H. Lichtenstein, a professor of nutrition science and policy at Tufts University, told Verywell that the only nutritional benefit she thinks could be expected from a cup of Oleato is if the olive oil was substituted for cream.

However, a spoonful of olive oil adds also adds 120 calories to coffee, which can add up over time.

“Assuming no displacement by other foods or beverages, this could result in weight gain,” Lichtenstein said.

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