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Oleato: Starbucks’ Olive Oil Coffee
March 9, 2023
Launched first in Italy this February, Starbucks’ Oleato products will introduce a new ingredient to personalize your coffee: Olive oil. The three new products of caffe latte, the Golden Foam cold brew, and iced shaken espresso are characterized by the fusion of Partanna, an Italian brand of extra-virgin olive oil that is either infused in the vanilla sweet cream froth to make the “golden” foam, steamed with oat milk for the latte, or shaken in the iced espresso.
Though they are not currently available in the US, the Oleato products will be released in Southern California later in the year.
“Adding olive oil to coffee sounds gross. But if you can’t taste the olive oil in your coffee, it could be good,” Isabelle Cross, a CHS senior, said.
The concept for this new line of products stems from Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz’s trip to Italy, where he saw Sicilians drinking olive oil as a daily ritual and decided that Starbucks should mix the two together. At the company’s earnings conference earlier in February, Schultz teased and called it “alchemy” and a “game-changer.”’
“One thing that’s special about the Castelvetrano olives is that they are sweet and really buttery,” Amy Dilger, principal Starbucks beverage developer, said. “I think of all the buttery caramels that we mix with our coffee. That buttery smooth richness combines so well with our coffee.”
“It makes beverages richer… and more luxurious,” Starbucks Chief Marketing Officer Brady Brewer told CNBC, “one of the main ways that Starbucks customers choose to customize their coffee is by changing the texture.”
One recent Starbucks press release suggested olive oil would impart some of the nutty, earthy notes of the olives. However, according to some of the first reviews of the products, the new ingredient does not offer any additional flavor notes, though it does give the coffee a velvety, consistent texture.
When you infuse Partanna extra virgin olive oil by steaming or shaking it with oat milk, it creates this luxurious, textural experience similar to whole milk
“The infusion is really important. When you infuse Partanna extra virgin olive oil by steaming or shaking it with oat milk, it creates this luxurious, textural experience similar to whole milk,” Dilger said.
The Oleato products are not the first time that the coffee giant has taken the initiative to appeal to different markets in different countries.
Previously, the coffee giant has expanded its plant-based options in Asian markets. In 2020, Starbucks introduced Oat Milk Cocoa Macchiato and Almond Milk Hazelnut Latte at selective stores in Hong Kong, New Zealand, Singapore, Taiwan, and Thailand. In addition to additional customization options with oat milk, almond milk, and coconut milk, the coffee giant has produced plant-based versions of two of its traditional beverages: chocolate and hazelnut.
Due to well-established traditions in local culinary culture, the Asia Pacific area stands out as the largest region for plant-based milk choices, according to Euromonitor, a global market intelligence organization that studies consumer trends.
As part of a new marketing strategy and to honor Italian culture, Starbucks is once again taking the initiative to cater to different regions and different culinary cultures, and expanding its customer base.