Complaints swirl over Starbucks’ newly released olive oil latte

Apr 7, 2023, 12:00 PM | Updated: 6:00 pm


An employee wears a smock with a write "Oleato" in a Starbucks coffee shop in Milan, Italy, Monday, Feb. 27, 2023. Putting olive oil in coffee is hardly a tradition in Italy, but that didn't stop Starbucks founder and CEO Howard Schultz from launching a series of beverages doing just that in Milan, the city that inspired his coffee house empire. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni)

(AP Photo/Antonio Calanni)

Starbucks launched a new line of coffee drinks called the Oleato, which comes with one tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil (Partanna) from Sicily, on Feb. 21 in limited markets, and some customers took to social media to review the new beverage.

“Caffeine is a stimulant for your bowels and oil a relaxant. So yeah, wonderful idea by Starbucks,” one Reddit user wrote.

On a Reddit thread titled Olive oil drinks…, commenters aired their grievances and warned fellow Starbucks drinkers.

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“And Schultz wants to close the bathrooms to the public. Coincidence? I think not,” another replied.

“I hate it. The oil and the drink separate in less than a minute, so there’s just this nasty yellow sheen on top,” a Reddit user and barista added.

The Starbucks Reserve Roastery Milan also debuted five additional beverages to customers, including an Oleato Deconstructed drink and an Oleato Golden Foam Espresso Martini.

“The result is velvety smooth, delicately sweet, and lush coffee that uplifts each cup with an extraordinary new flavor and texture,” Starbucks’ website wrote to describe the newly released drink. 

Starbucks plans to bring the drink to the United States, with California receiving the beverage first this spring.

“During my first trip to Milan in 1983, I was captivated by the sense of community, connection, and passion for coffee I found in the city’s espresso bars,” said Howard Schultz, Starbucks interim chief executive officer.

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“It was that trip that inspired me to bring the ritual of handcrafted espresso to Starbucks and to America,” Schultz continued. “Oleato represents the next revolution in coffee that brings together an alchemy of nature’s finest ingredients — Starbucks arabica coffee beans and Partanna cold pressed extra virgin olive oil.”

Sicilians and other European countries have added olive oil to their coffee for generations. Olive oil contains healthy fats that can slow the absorption of caffeine in your system, prolonging its effects and making it easier for your body to take in.

Coffee’s acidity isn’t healthy for gut health or the digestive system, but adding a fat can neutralize it while reducing stomach inflammation.

“Today, I feel just as inspired as I did 40 years ago,” Schultz said. “Oleato has opened our eyes to fresh new possibilities and a transformational way to enjoy our daily coffee.”

But not all customers and baristas feel inspired, as the social media reaction has been underwhelming so far.

“The olive oil is such a dark green color it looks terrifying. It also smells so so so bad,” another Reddit user, who works as a barista, said. “The oil (obviously) just separates from the drink. While I hated all of them, the one I tolerated the most was the shaken espresso. For a second, it tastes like oat milk and espresso and then you’re hit with an awful aftertaste of olive oil. The cold brew is fine until you taste the foam because it’s two pumps of olive oil. The foam is green and worst of all was the latte for me. You’re immediately hit with just olive oil and I wanted to throw up after, so yeah, I do not recommend.”

Follow Micki Gamez on Twitter or email her here.

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Complaints swirl over Starbucks’ newly released olive oil latte