step aside, cream and sugar
Starbucks is betting you'll want to add olive oil to your coffee with new line of drinks
If bulletproof coffee wasn't your thing, prepare yourself for another questionable java trend.
Starbucks has announced a new line of extra virgin olive oil-infused coffee drinks for its Italian customers, a head-scratching amalgamation it has termed the "Oleato," after the Italian word for oil, The Washington Post reports.
The chain hopes that by combining two things Italian love the most — coffee and olive oil — it might make inroads in the Italian market, where it has historically struggled.
In a Tuesday press release, CEO Howard Schultz said the idea came to him on a trip to Sicily. In keeping with Mediterranean custom, Schultz would eat a spoonful of olive oil each day, oftentimes alongside his morning cup of coffee. Eventually, he decided to try to the two together. "I was absolutely stunned at the unique flavor 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 flavor that enhanced the coffee and lingers beautifully on the palate."
But not everyone is sharing that same enthusiasm — social media was at least a bit confused by the concoction when it was first announced. Punchbowl News reporter and "real-life Italian" Andrew Desiderio called the drink "laughably insane," to which Washington Post reporter Tony Romm sarcastically replied, "I, for one, put olive oil in everything, and yell 'that's a-spicy coffee!' every morning."
"I love the sense of adventure and experimentation," added journalist Charles Fishman. "That said, doesn't seem palatable to me. We use a lot of olive oil. But not in our drinks." And Andrea Talabér of the Central European University Press offered an even more succinct take: "What fresh hell is this???"
CNN's Danielle Wiener-Bronner, who tried four Oleato concoctions in New York, said she could "see the oil in the cold drinks — it gave the cold foam a pale green tinge and appeared as a thin, bubbly layer on the shaken espresso and cortado."
At first, Wiener-Bronner liked what she tried. "But after a few sips of each, it felt like too much." The beverages began to feel "weighed down," and "I could feel the oil on my lips," she said. Not for nothing, the olive oil adds 120 calories to each drink (though consumers might come to enjoy EVOO's other health benefits).
Still, Starbucks knows the risk it's taking. "It is one of the biggest launches we've had in decades," Chief Marketing Officer Brady Brewer told CNN, which writes that the company is "betting that people will hear about the concoction and try it because they want to know what it tastes like."
The Oleato latte with oat milk and olive oil; the Oleato ice shaken espresso with oat milk, hazelnut flavor, and olive oil; and the Oleato golden foam cold brew will be available for sale at Italian Starbucks starting this week. Versions of the drinks will debut in Southern California this spring and in other global markets — including the United Kingdom, the Middle East, and Japan — at some point this year, per CNN.