As Starbucks launches new virgin olive oil coffee, Femail puts the divisive drinks range to the test
Coffee has become more and more one of the nation’s favourite pick-up drinks and a great alternative to tea.
We are used to seeing the black liquid prepared with artisan blends, seasonal ingredients and various toppings.
But now Starbucks has embarked on a new venture as they launched a line of coffees featuring an unusual ingredient – olive oil.
The American coffee company has had a strong bond with the Italy. Howard Schultz got his first inspiration in 1983 when he visited Milan.
And now, four decades on, during a trip to Sicily, Schultz came across the Mediterranean habit of taking a spoonful of olive oil each day to boost your immune system.
He soon began enjoying a spoonful of Partanna cold pressed extra virgin olive oil as part of his morning routine in addition to his beloved French press coffee.
This is how he had the idea of combining the two. From this ritual, the Oleato coffee range was born.
The Starbucks CEO said he felt an ‘explosion of excitement’ as he had this eccentric idea, and has described the new range as ‘alchemy’.
Italians are quite opinionated about their food. And me, being a native Italian, I am no less.
When I got to try some of Starbucks’ new drinks, I was extremely sceptical.
In the Italian tradition, olive oil is one of our favourite condiments but mainly use it in savoury recipes.
The bravest would use it in sponge cakes. In the Liguria region, people dip their olive oil focaccia in their morning cappuccino, but no one before ever dared to add extra virgin olive oil inside their cups.
I have to say, I changed my mind as soon as I tried the first beverage.
Isi trying out the Oleato Iced Cortado, and claimed the drink is very close to a regular iced cortado
No, I still wouldn’t add oil to my morning espresso, but these drinks were something different, and I can see myself ordering some of those in a coffee shop.
It is important to notice that Starbucks masters have made new custom recipes and not just added a spoonful of oil to regular drinks. The green juice is mixed and blended in these coffees like a cocktail. But, if you want to feel fancy, in some shops you can ask for a ‘press’ of olive oil, about a spoonful, to be added to your daily drink.
The new Oleato line will hit the UK market later this year, but we at FEMAIL got to try four of the new drinks during its launch at the Roastery Reserve in Milan, Italy.
Oleato Iced Shaken Espresso
Oleato Iced Shaken Espresso (above) contains Espresso sweetened with hazelnut syrup and oat dairy alternative infused with Partanna extra virgin olive oil
Isi (above) trying out the Oleato Caffe Latte after Starbucks has embarked on a new venture as they launched a line of coffees featuring an unusual ingredient – olive oil
Ingredients: Espresso sweetened with hazelnut syrup and oat dairy alternative infused with Partanna extra virgin olive oil.
This was the first drink I got to try. I was very sceptical at first as the smell of olive oil was very strong.
The drink itself looked nice as it went from a dark brown colour at the bottom of the glass to a beige at the top in a beautiful colour gradient.
As I tried it, I was very surprised as the oil blends well with the coffee. The taste is not as powerful as the smell. The condiment gives the drink a very smooth and rich texture, that a cold coffee doesn’t usually have.
It makes the beverage very complex and plays with your senses. I would describe it as a taste experience. Just like you would try a Michelin restaurant dish for the experience and not because you are hungry.
So, it’s good to try it once if you want to experience something different from your usual plain iced coffee, yet I don’t think I would order this a second time as it becomes heavy to finish it. After all, it looks like an unnecessary ingredient and the texture doesn’t justify the oil presence in the coffee.
Oleato Golden Foam Cold Brew
The Oleato Golden Foam Cold Brew contains partanna extra virgin olive oil infused cold foam sitting on top of a cold brew
Ingredients: Partanna extra virgin olive oil infused cold foam sitting on top of a cold brew.
On the other hand, this one was my favourite one. The golden foam is just what you would expect – a creamy, sweet layer of goodness topping a refreshing cold brew.
The olive oil here works magnificently as it makes the foam feel almost like a light custard, it’s sweet and airy.
Altogether, it’s a joy to drink it as the creaminess is wiped away by the coffee. This allows you to enjoy the drink thoroughly.
The flavour of coffee coming just after you tasted the cream cleanses your palate, and it doesn’t make the beverage feel heavy.
The drink is well-structured. The layer of foam blends with the coffee, making it really appealing.
Oleato Caffè Latte
Oleato Caffè Latte, which is made up of Espresso infused with Partanna extra virgin olive oil and steamed oat dairy alternative
Ingredients: Espresso infused with Partanna extra virgin olive oil and steamed oat dairy alternative.
Oleato Caffè Latte is made with oat milk, which is probably one of my least favourite dairy alternatives. Or, it was until I got to try this.
If you drank this without knowing it has a spoon of oil in its preparation, you probably wouldn’t notice it. Olive oil here blends perfectly, it doesn’t stand out and its purpose is to make the drink pleasant.
The oat caffè latte is not very different, in theory, from a regular latte, but olive oil takes the drink to the next level.
Usually, oat alternatives can feel quite watery at times, but oil gives it a creamy, velvety texture. It is very easy to drink and it feels very comforting. Recommended.
Oleato Iced Cortado (Only available at the Roastery Reserve)
Oleato Iced Cortado (above) contains Espresso, demerara syrup, a few drops of orange bitters and oat dairy alternative infused with Partanna extra virgin olive oil. Served over ice and finished with an orange peel
Ingredients: Espresso, demerara syrup, a few drops of orange bitters and oat dairy alternative infused with Partanna extra virgin olive oil. Served over ice and finished with an orange peel.
I like oranges, and I like coffee, so what could have gone wrong here? This drink was…ok, but I’d have liked a few more drops of orange bitters.
The flavour doesn’t plough through, but it sits somewhere in the back with its soft citrus feel.
I was told that’s exactly the sensation they wanted to produce, but to me, it is underwhelming as it doesn’t keep up with the expectations.
This drink is very close to a regular iced cortado. It is served over ice, and the colour is the light moka shade we are used to seeing.
The peel laying on the glass used as a decoration improves the experience with its smell, so I recommend keeping it inside your cup while you drink it.
This will be only served in the Milan Reserve Roastery, so if you fancy it you’ll have to come to this side of the Alps.