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When Olive Oil Met Coffee, a Love Story at Starbucks

Our correspondent is more than pleasantly surprised by the marriage of extra virgin olive oil and coffee at Starbucks.

9:00 AM EST on February 7, 2024

The Oleata coffee at Starbucks.

The Oleata coffee at Starbucks.

I bit my lip in anticipation as I waited for the Starbucks barista to call my name. “Paola,” he said, his warm smile making a rainy winter day seem brighter. “Enjoy,” he added as he handed me the cup of Oleato, a marriage of Starbucks Arabica Coffee Beans and Partanna Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

The fusion of coffee and olive oil was intriguing: two ingredients I adore but had never tasted, or even considered, in unison before. The excitement of the nearing revelation brought a sparkle to my eye. Pressing the cup of hot latte against my lips, I took my first sip and closed my eyes as silky-smooth olive oil infused coffee tantalized my taste buds.

"Oleata" is a fusion of Starbucks coffee and Partanna extra virgin olive oil.
"Oleata" is a fusion of Starbucks coffee and Partanna extra virgin olive oil.

The unexpected first taste of olive oil was pronounced but not overpowering, followed by the familiarity of espresso notes, merging into a velvety texture that lingered on my palate. Pleasantly surprised, I took a second sip, the satisfying mouthfeel intensified while the flavor profile remained one of sophistication, with the olive oil enhancing rather than masking the coffee taste. The nuttiness of the oat milk, with which Oleato Caffe’ Latte is made, added complexity to the drink but remained a background component, allowing the other two ingredients to shine. Indulgence in a cup, I thought.

Oleato (italian for “oiled”) is the brainchild of Howard Schultz, until recently the CEO of Starbucks. The idea sparked when Schultz was traveling through Sicily and became acquainted with the Italian practice of consuming a spoonful of olive oil daily. Words uttered to him by Tommaso Asaro, CEO of Oleificio Asaro, the Sicily-based producers of Pantanna oil and other products, regarding this practice, set in motion a new coffee ritual, where two of nature’s gifts, that are thousands of years old, came together for the first time in an organic farm in Valle del Belice, Sicily.

Fresh olives being hand pressed at Oleificio Asaro.
Fresh olives being hand pressed at Oleificio Asaro.

Buttery and slightly peppery, the Partanna olive oil used in the Oleato line is produced at Oleificio Asaro, an organic farm with over 100 years of history, where the craft and passion for award-winning olive oil production have been passed down through generations in what remains a family-owned and operated business. Mediterranean sunshine, rich soil, and Sicilian love combine to produce the world famous Nocellara del Belice olives used in the blend formulated for Starbucks' Oleato.

Bright green in color, with a meaty texture, the Nocellara del Belice olives are hand-picked to protect their quality and pressed hours after being harvested, usually in mid-October, to preserve their freshness. The verdant oil they produce is packed with nutrients and so delicious that it earns its “liquid gold” reputation with ease, making this award-winning evoo a perfect match for the carefully sourced Arabica coffee beans Starbucks uses.

The Oleato line of coffees at Starbucks launched in Italy in February of 2023. Soon after, it was also brewed at select markets around the world. This month, Oleato expanded its market presence and is now available nationwide in the United States. The offerings include the Caffe Latte with oat milk or the Golden Foam Iced Shaken Espresso with toffeenut.

The "Bambino" extra virgin olive oil tin available at select Starbucks locations.
The "Bambino" extra virgin olive oil tin available at select Starbucks locations.

There’s also an option to add the Oleato Golden Foam to other Starbucks drinks offered at Starbucks Reserve locations. Also available at some of these Starbucks locations are the Partanna Olive Oil tins, including the adorable 3.4 oz. size, dubbed “Bambino,” which conveniently fits into a purse if you want to partake in the endearing Asaro family tradition of bringing it along to restaurants to drizzle a special touch of Sicilian liquid gold on your favorite dish (or to elevate your coffee at home).

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