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

New York (CNN) Starbucks wants you to give their olive oil coffee a shot. truly.

the coffee series Introduces a new line of extra virgin beverages olive oil. To be honest, not only are the drinks flavored with olive oil, they also don’t contain even a hint of it. Each one is really made with just a spoonful of oil, which adds 120 calories to the total. With some drinks, you can see a slippery sheen of oil in the cup, and you don’t even have to squint.

Three olive oil drinks are available for sale in Starbucks coffee shops in Italy starting this week. Each includes Oleato, the Starbucks word for the new line, in its name.

There’s an Oleato latte with oat milk and olive oil, an Oleato espresso whipped with ice with oat milk, hazelnut flavor and olive oil, and an Oleato golden cold drink, made with a version of sweet milk foam from Starbucks with two servings of olive oil. Versions of these drinks will be arriving in Southern California this spring, with more details on a future US launch. It will be rolled out to other markets in the UK, the Middle East and Japan this year.

Starbucks Oliato drinks are made with extra virgin olive oil.

Like other major chains, Starbucks often adjusts its menu and rollouts Limited edition items seasonal or presentational New components like Oat milk. But Brady Brewer, chief marketing officer for Starbucks, told CNN that this launch is much bigger.

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

The company is betting that people will hear about and try the concoction because they want to know what it tastes like. Perhaps because they have heard that there are health benefits to extra virgin olive oil.

Starbucks interim CEO Howard Schultz interviews Bobby Harlow at Asaro Ranch in Sicily.

With Oleato, Starbucks is out on a limb. Adding fats to coffee is nothing new. You can do it the old-fashioned way with cream, milk, or even butter. There are recipes for olive oil coffee on the Internet.

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But consumers are definitely not asking for olive oil coffee. And Starbucks launches the line at some point in time Supply chains are fragileconsumers Monitor their budgets and baristas, some of whom are very frustrated with the company They are joining a unionThey already handle complex drink orders.

So why is Starbucks launching this major new line? Two words: Howard Schultz.

Back to full circle

Last year, Schultz met olive oil producer Tommaso Asaro, who introduced him to the practice of eating a tablespoon of olive oil every day. Schultz learned more about the practice this summer while visiting Sicily, then picked up the habit himself. He wondered if he could incorporate it into his daily coffee routine.

“When we got together and started doing this ritual, I said so [Asaro]I know you think I’m going crazy, but have you ever considered infusing a tablespoon of olive oil with your Starbucks coffee? Schultz, currently the interim CEO of Starbucks, told CNN’s Bobby Harlow. “I thought it was a little strange.” Asaro is the Chairman of the Board of Directors of United Olive Oil, From which Starbucks gets its olive oil.

Howard Schultz and Tommaso Asaro, chairman of United Olive Oil, which produces the Partanna olive oil Starbucks uses for Olito.

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 bean coffee). Back in 1982, Starbucks was still just a small operation, with four stores in total. Schultz, who joined the board as Director of Operations and Marketing, visited Milan in 1983 and became fascinated with the city’s café culture. The rest, he says, is history.

“My journey with Starbucks will continue when I return to Milan later this month to offer something much bigger than any new promotion or drink,” Schultz said during a February conference call with an analyst.

In 1983, Howard Schultz drew inspiration from Milan. Last year, he took notes from Sicily, where olive oil is produced. Partana, pictured, is a town in Sicily near the farm of Asaro. It is the same name for the oil used in Oleato.

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

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It’s one thing to add olive oil to coffee on a whim, another to create a range of drinks that can appeal to customers all over the world.

Therefore, Schultz turned to the Starbucks team in Seattle, where the coffee shop chain is based. There, they had to figure out how to make their olive oil coffee taste good.

Unique case

Usually, Starbucks doesn’t introduce new drinks based on the CEO’s ideas.

“This is a unique case,” Brewer told CNN. But, he noted, “we have ideas coming from everywhere.”

The Starbucks beverage team came up with about a dozen options, narrowed down to the three options now available in Italian Starbucks coffee shops. (The Starbucks Reserve Roastery in Milan will offer five Olliato drinks, including a deconstructed espresso drink, an iced cortado, and an espresso martini, all of which include olive oil.)

Starbucks Opened the first Italian location, The RoasteryHowever, in 2018, a decision that was well received by local residents. But after five years, I was able to expand into the country. To fire Oleato, Schultz once again went back to Italy to see how the Italians would react. “What if they don’t like it?” Harlow asked. In this case, Schultz quipped, “I’m not going back to Seattle.”

The barista pours the extra virgin olive oil into the cold passion fruit foam before mixing it with the espresso.

In recent years, beverage companies have included ingredients like turmeric or CBD in their recipes, which customers perceive as healthy or offer certain benefits, such as aiding sleep. Starbucks makes no health claims with Oleato, but it hopes that, through their own research, people will see it as a healthy choice.

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And those 120 extra calories? “We didn’t see that as a barrier,” Brewer said. “We’re not too worried about that.”

Brewer and Schultz turned down some other challenges, too.

Regarding the prospect of people paying extra money for oil, Brewer said customers see Starbucks as an “affordable luxury.” In the last three months of 2022, sales at Starbucks stores open for at least 13 months jumped 5% globally, despite higher prices.

The way Brewer and Schultz see it, the only danger is if the drinks don’t offer taste.

The proof, as they say, is in the cup.

Taste test

In New York, this reporter tasted four Oleato drinks: Hot Oat Milk, Golden Foamy Cold Brew, Ice-Whipped Espresso with Oat Milk and Hazelnuts, and an Iced Cortado like the one served at the Roastery in Milan.

I could see the oil in the cold brew – it gave the cold foam a pale green tinge and appeared as a thin bubbling layer on the shaken espresso and cortado.

On the first sip, I loved them all. For me, the cold brew’s golden foam had the strongest taste of olive oil—nutty, sweet, and surprisingly sweet, as promised. I can detect it in cortados and espressos more accurately. In a hot latte, I really couldn’t taste it at all.

One cold brew that’s heavy on olive oil.

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

I usually drink regular coffee with plant-based milk, preferably unsweetened. So the sweet cold drinks—the whipped espresso and cortado, in particular—sounded like a fun indulgence. It would have been great without the olive oil, which seemed like an unnecessary flourish.

Starbucks describes the drinks as rich and velvety thanks to the oil. But for me they are just starting to feel heavy. And for a while after i tried the drinks, i felt oily on my lips.

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

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