'A velvety consistency': We tried making Starbucks' olive oil latte so you don't have to

Olive oil and coffee
Olive oil and coffee Copyright Canva
Copyright Canva
By Jonny Walfisz
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Starbucks is debuting a new range of drinks in its Italian coffeeshops. The twist, they all revolve around adding extra virgin olive oil to coffee.


For the keen followers of coffee news, you may have heard that Starbucks is trialling a few new interesting flavours in its Italian coffeehouses.

The massive American company has historically struggled to get a proper footing in the Italian market due to the huge number of independent vendors with affordable high-quality espresso bars. The new Oleato range of drinks is an attempt to change that by infusing extra virgin olive oil into their coffees.

Five new drinks will debut in Italy, including a latte, cortardo, cold brew, a deconstructed drink and an espresso martini. If they are a success, the Oleato range will expand to markets in Japan, the Middle East and the UK.

The idea is simple: combine extra virgin olive oil with coffee for a more Italian take on the classic drinks. It all stems from Starbucks’ CEO Howard Schultz getting inspired on a trip to Sicily, where he came across the Mediterranean custom of taking a daily spoonful of olive oil.

“I was absolutely stunned at the unique flavour 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 flavour that enhanced the coffee and lingers beautifully on the palate.”

Before you exit the article retching, the Euronews Culture team thought it would be important for a journalist to try out the idea. 

It’s me, I’m the journalist who had to do it.

Trying the olive oil latte

The Oleato range includes an oat milk latte, so I thought I’d give that one a go. 

During my lunch break, I popped out to the shops to pick up a fresh carton of oat milk, brewed a cafetière, and prepared to have my mind blown.

Jonny Walfisz
My fresh pot of coffeeJonny Walfisz

A few disclaimers before we get into the review:I know a lot of people get all up in arms about their coffee not being sourced from the highest quality beans, measured to a microgram and poured delicately through an outrageously expensive espresso machine. That’s just not the kind of coffee drinker I am. I dare say few journalists are, opting instead for quantity of caffeinated drinks over quality.

In lieu of me buying a whole espresso machine for this 600 word article, I used a cafetière. And as I also don’t have a fancy milk steamer, my improvised alternative was to warm up the oat milk in a saucepan. Sue me.

I added about a teaspoon of the best extra virgin olive oil I could find in my closest Aldi to a healthy glug of oat milk. Naturally, the combination immediately separated. Milk and oil aren’t natural bedfellows. So, impersonating my best Marco Pierre White, out came the balloon whisk. Heated over a medium flame and whisked within an inch of its life, I managed to emulsify the oil and create a rich foam from the milk.

Combined with the freshly brewed coffee, I had what resembled a pretty ordinary latte. Now, for the taste test.

The verdict

Surprisingly, it’s great. The olive oil has given the milk a velvety consistency that has me reaching for the awful descriptor “mouthfeel”. The coffee goes down smoothly, and the milk has a playfully light froth.

Jonny Walfisz
Me enjoying a cup of olive joeJonny Walfisz

In the Starbucks press release, it suggests that the oil will impart some of the nutty, earthy notes of the olives. I’m not getting any of that, sadly, but that might just be the result of my low-quality coffee.

Despite lacking in any additional flavour notes, the olive oil coffee truly hits the mark on texture.

“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 that’s similar to whole milk,” Amy Dilger, principal Starbucks beverage developer says.

She’s right. This is probably the richest oat milk has ever tasted in my afternoon coffee. That said, for all the effort of whisking the oil and milk together, the olive oil coffee will be - at best - an occasional treat for me.

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