Forget chocolate sprinkles and vanilla syrup, Starbucks now wants to tempt you with olive-oil infused coffee.
The Oleato range of drinks, each containing Partanna extra virgin olive oil, launches in Italy on Wednesday and the US this spring before coming to the UK, Japan and Middle East later this year.
There are five options, including an oat milk latte and cortado as well as a cold brew, with Starbucks claiming inspiration from the Italian custom of eating a spoonful of olive oil every day.
Howard Schultz, the man who transformed Starbucks from a regional chain into an international business and who steps down as interim chief executive next month, said the idea for the olive oil-infused coffee was prompted by a trip to Sicily last year.
“I was absolutely stunned at the unique flavour and texture created when the Partanna extra virgin olive oil was infused into Starbucks coffee,” Schultz said. “In both hot and cold coffee beverages, what it produced was an unexpected, velvety, buttery flavour that enhanced the coffee and lingers beautifully on the palate.
“Now, there’s going to be people who say, ‘Olive oil in coffee?’ But the proof is in the cup. In over 40 years, I can’t remember a moment in time where I’ve been more excited, more enthused that demonstrates the pride, the quality, the passion, the heritage and the craft of what Starbucks can do.”
Amy Dilger, principal Starbucks beverage developer, who turned his idea into a range of drinks, looked to ideas such as Greek yoghurt with a drizzle of olive oil or olive oil and sea salt ice-cream for inspiration. She said infusing extra virgin olive oil by steaming or shaking it with oatmilk creates a “luxurious, textural experience that’s similar to whole milk”.
Starbucks’ move comes after olive oil-based drinks trended on the video-sharing platform TikTok last year, with fans saying it had anti-inflammatory properties.
The launch of the innovative coffee, mixing two Italian classics, comes after some people in Italy called for a boycott of Starbucks when it announced plans to open its first store in the country in 2018. At that time, Schultz said: “We are not coming to teach Italians how to make coffee. We’re coming here with humility and respect, to show what we’ve learned.”