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Starbucks is doubling down on its olive oil-infused coffee despite a barrage of bad reviews and online hate

Grace Dean   

Starbucks is doubling down on its olive oil-infused coffee despite a barrage of bad reviews and online hate
  • Starbucks is massively expanding its rollout of Oleato, its olive oil-infused coffee range.
  • The drinks are now available at all US company-operated and licensed stores, it said.

Starbucks is rolling out Oleato, its olive oil-infused coffee range, to all stores in the US despite mixed reviews.

Starbucks said that the drinks would be available from Tuesday at all US company-operated and licensed stores, including those in grocery stores, at airports, and on college campuses.

The beverages debuted in Italy in February 2023 and started their rollout in the US the month after. They're also available at some Starbucks stores in Canada, London, Paris, Osaka, and Tokyo, as well as a more extensive range at US Starbucks Reserve stores.

Some of the drinks have a pump of olive oil added, while others have it infused into an Oleato Golden Foam.

The Oleato range in the US features a Caffé Latte with oat milk and various drinks that come with Oleato Golden Foam, including an Iced Shaken Espresso with Toffeenut, an Iced Chai Tea Latte, and a Dragon Drink Refresher.

You're also able to pay $1 or $1.25 extra, depending on the location, to add a pump of olive oil to some other drinks on the menu, like the English Breakfast Tea Latte, the Caffé Mocha, and even its Frappuccino range. You can also pay to add Oleato Golden Foam. to some drinks.

The drinks are made with Partanna extra-virgin olive oil.

Starbucks founder Howard Schultz introduced the range after mixing olive oil with his Starbucks coffee in Sicily, where the oil is a key component of the Mediterranean diet. He said it gave the drinks an "unexpected, velvety, buttery flavor that enhanced the coffee and lingers beautifully on the palate."

Schultz told The Wall Street Journal when the Oleato range was first announced that he expected there to be "haters" and "cynics." He acknowledged that there was even skepticism internally when he first proposed the idea to the company's corporate team.

The beverages have received a mixed response. One TikToker described it as an "oil spill on your iced coffee" while another said it was "so nasty." Photos and videos show the oil clinging to the side of customers' plastic cups.

"If I can prevent even one of my followers from buying this I will be fulfilled," another TikToker wrote. Some TikTokers even speculated that it was an April Fools' joke.

Many social-media users have said that the drinks upset their bowels. A nutritionist told CNN that combining a high-fat substance, like olive oil, with coffee can have a laxative effect.

But not everyone dislikes the drink. A TikToker with a more positive take on the drink said it gave her "a kick in the back of your throat" and a "whisper of spice."

Reviewers generally say that the Toffeenut beverage is the best one in the Oleato range.

In a review for Business Insider, Phoebe Hunt wrote that she most liked the two iced drinks that she ordered from Starbucks Italy's Oleato range, though she noted that the olive oil started to separate very quickly, creating an "unappetizing oil barrier on top and around the edge of the cup." She said that the Oleato caffè latte "tasted cloying and heavy" after a few sips.

One Reddit user who said they were a Starbucks barista said that the Oleator drinks tasted better than expected and that their store manager had encouraged staff to play around with syrups and toppings so that they could suggest drinks to customers. But a Redditor who said they were a Starbucks shift supervisor replied questioning why staff had to go to so much effort to mask the Oleato line "so it tastes less like what it is."

Another Redditor who said they were a barista said they made roughly one Oleato drink per hour "on a good day," though a different Redditor said their store had "a bunch" of customers who ordered it "constantly."

Starbucks rolled out the drinks in some Middle Eastern countries last May, though it's unclear if they're still available, and they're no longer listed on the company's menus in the region.




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