Oleato: Starbucks’ new drinks contain a spoonful of olive oil in each cup

New York (CNN) Starbucks wants you to serve olive oil coffee. In fact.

The Coffee chain Launching a new line of beverages made with extra virgin Olive oil. To be clear, the drinks are not simply flavored with olive oil, or contain a hint of it. Each is made with literally a spoonful of oil, adding 120 calories to the total. With some drinks, you can see the oily sheen in the cup, and you don’t even need to blink.

Three olive oil drinks will be available at Starbucks cafes in Italy starting this week. Each includes Oleado, the Starbucks word for the new line, in its name.

There’s an Oleto Latte with oat milk and olive oil, an Oleto Ice Shake Espresso with oat milk, hazelnut flavor and olive oil, and an Oleto Golden Foam cold brew made with Starbucks’ version of sweet milk foam served with two olive oil servings. . Versions of those drinks will arrive in Southern California this spring, with more details on the U.S. release to come. They will also roll out in other markets in the UK, Middle East and Japan this year.

Starbucks Oleato drinks are made with extra virgin olive oil.

Like other major chains, Starbucks changes its menu frequently Limited edition items Seasonally or introduces New products like Oat milk. But the rollout is huge, Brady Brewer, Starbucks’ chief marketing officer, told CNN.

“This is one of the biggest launches we’ve had in decades,” he noted. “Rather than a flavor or a product, it’s really a platform,” he said, meaning customers can use olive oil to customize certain drinks.

The company is betting that people will hear about the brew and try it because they want to know what it tastes like. And, perhaps, they’ve heard that extra virgin olive oil has health benefits.

Starbucks Interim CEO Howard Schultz is interviewed by Poppy Harlow at his Asaro farm in Sicily.

With Oleado, Starbucks is going out on a limb. Adding fat to coffee is nothing new. You can do cream or milk or even butter the old fashioned way. Recipes for olive oil coffee are available online.

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But consumers certainly aren’t clamoring for olive oil coffee. Starbucks introduces this line one at a time Supply chains are fragileConsumers Looking at their budgets And baristas, some of whom are very frustrated with the company They join a unionCompeting with already complicated drink orders.

Why is Starbucks introducing this brand new line? Two words: Howard Schultz.

Coming full circle

Last year Schultz met olive oil producer Tommaso Asaro, who introduced him to the practice of consuming a tablespoon of olive oil every day. Schultz learned more about the practice during a visit to Sicily this summer and later took up the practice himself. He wondered if he could add this to his daily coffee routine.

“I said as we began to perform this ritual together [Asaro]I know you think I’m going crazy, but have you ever thought about infusing a tablespoon of olive oil with your Starbucks coffee?” Schultz, now Starbucks’ interim CEO, told CNN’s Poppy Harlow. “He thought it was a little strange.” Azaro is the president of United Olive Oil This is where Starbucks gets its olive oil.

Howard Schultz and Tommaso Asaro, president of United Olive Oil, which produces the Bartanna olive oil used by Starbucks Olato.

For Schultz, making business decisions based on visits to Italy is nothing new.

Schultz joined Starbucks in 1982, 11 years after the first Starbucks location opened its doors (the original Starbucks sold whole coffee beans). In 1982, Starbucks was still a small operation with four stores. Arriving as director of operations and marketing, Schultz visited Milan in 1983 and was drawn to the city’s café culture. The rest, he says, is history.

“My Starbucks journey will come full circle when I return to Milan later this month to launch something much bigger than any new ad or drink,” Schultz teased of the new line during a February analyst call.

In 1983, Howard Schultz drew inspiration from Milan. Last year, he took notes from Sicily, where olive oil is produced. Partanna is a town near the Asaro farm in Sicily. This is the name of the oil used in Oleado.

Speaking with CNN’s Harlow, he predicted that the new site would “change the coffee industry” and be “a very profitable new addition to the company.”

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It’s one thing to toy with the idea of ​​adding olive oil to coffee, and quite another to come up with a collection of drinks that will appeal to customers around the world.

To that end, Schultz returned to his Starbucks team in Seattle, where the coffee chain is headquartered. There, they had to figure out how to make olive oil coffee delicious.

A unique case

In general, Starbucks doesn’t come up with new drinks based on the CEO’s ideas.

“This is a very unique case,” Brewer told CNN. But, he noted, “we have ideas coming from all over the place.”

Starbucks’ beverage team came up with about 12 options, which were whittled down to the three that are now available at Starbucks’ Italian cafes. (Starbucks Reserve Roastery in Milan offers five Olato drinks, including a deconstructed espresso drink, an iced cortado and an espresso martini, all with olive oil).

Starbucks Opened its first Italian location, a roastery, in 2018, a decision that raised eyebrows among locals. But five years later, it was able to expand into the country. For the release of Oleato, Schultz is back in Italy to see how Italians react. “What if they don’t like it?” Harlow asked. “I’m never coming back to Seattle,” Schultz joked in that case.

A barista pours extra virgin olive oil into a passion fruit cold foam before blending it into an espresso.

In recent years, beverage companies have incorporated ingredients such as turmeric or CBD into their recipes that customers claim are healthy or offer some benefit, such as helping with sleep. Starbucks isn’t making any health claims with Oledo, but hopes people will come to see it through their own research. A healthy choice.

Those extra 120 calories? “We don’t see it as a barrier,” Brewer said. “We’re not too worried about it.”

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Brewer and Schultz also rejected some other challenges.

And given the potential for people to shell out extra cash for oil, Brewer said customers see Starbucks as an “affordable luxury.” In the last three months of 2022, sales at Starbucks stores open at least 13 months rose 5% globally, despite higher prices.

The way Brewer and Schultz see it, the only risk is if the drinks don’t deliver flavor.

The proof, they say, is in the cup.

Taste test

In New York, this reporter tasted four Oleto drinks: a hot oat milk latte, a golden foam cold brew, an ice shake espresso with oat milk and hazelnut, and an ice cortado like the one served at the roastery in Milan.

I could see the oil in the cold drinks – it gave the cold foam a pale green color and appeared as a thin, bubbly layer on the shaken espresso and cortado.

I loved everything from the first sip. To me, the golden foam on the cold brew had a strong olive oil flavor – nutty and sweet and surprising, as promised. I can detect it more subtly in cortado and espresso. In a hot latte, I couldn’t taste it at all.

A cold brew, heavy on olive oil.

But after a few sips of each, it was too much.

I usually drink regular coffee with a plant-based milk, preferably unsweetened. So sweet cold drinks — shaken espresso and cortado, in particular — felt like a delightful indulgence. They would have been better without the olive oil, which seemed like an unnecessary flourish.

Starbucks describes the drinks as lush and velvety, thanks to the oil. But for me they started to feel burdensome. Shortly after I tried the drinks, I could feel the oil on my lips.

As it turns out, I love my olive oil with food. Starbucks will have to wait and see if most people disagree.

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