Feb 24, 2023 - Food and Drink

Starbucks' olive oil coffee spurs questions — and strong reactions

A person in an apron that says "Oleato" holding an iced coffee on a countertop.

Starbucks' new line of olive-oil-laced espresso drinks has me asking what exactly they're thinking over there.

What's happening: The Seattle-based coffee giant is debuting its "Oleato" line of drinks in Italy, of all places. It plans to start offering the drinks elsewhere, including California, later on.

Why it matters: No one can possibly think this sounds like a good idea, right?

  • Remember what they say about oil and water?

Plus: "Oleato" makes anyone who knows Italian think of waxed paper — "carta oleata" — not exactly the most appetizing culinary image.

Details: I polled a few Italian friends, as well as others who have spent time living in Italy about this. So far, they have all shared my revulsion. "Che schifo!” one wrote. (That translates, roughly, as, "disgusting.") Another who lives in southern Italy called the olive oil drinks an "atrocity."

  • Still, I decided to keep an open mind and try a little olive oil in my coffee, to see if I was missing out.
  • Reader, I was not.
A photo at left of espresso with olive oil added, and at left, a photo of a cup of espresso with olive oil and milk added
The aftertaste was terrible, even after adding milk (right). Photos: Melissa Santos/Axios

The bottom line: I'd be surprised if Italians — or even Americans — flock to Starbucks for this particular concoction.

  • Buona fortuna, Howard Schultz.

Go deeper: Starbucks unveils new olive-oil-infused coffee drinks


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