Reviews Pour in for Starbucks Oleato

From indigestion to pleasantly nutty notes, customers in the United States and Europe have come to mixed conclusions about the olive oil-infused coffee beverages.
By Ofeoritse Daibo
Jun. 20, 2023 15:53 UTC

Amid mixed reviews, Starbuck’s line of olive oil-infused cof­fee bev­er­ages is con­tin­u­ing to be rolled out across the United States.

Starbucks debuted Oleato in Italy in February before intro­duc­ing it to test mar­kets in the United States – California, Illinois, New York and Washington.

The cof­fee bev­er­ages, made with extra vir­gin olive oil from Partanna, Sicily, will now be avail­able in Austin, Boston, Chicago, Dallas and Miami.

Oleato, the brain­child of for­mer chief exec­u­tive Howard Schultz is made by adding a spoon­ful of extra vir­gin olive oil – about 120 calo­ries – into each cup of cof­fee. It is served with oat milk and comes in three fla­vors.

See Also:Starbucks Could Become a Global Ambassador for EVOO, Experts Say

All the extra vir­gin olive oil used in the bev­er­age is sourced from Oleificio Asaro dal 1916, an award-win­ning fam­ily farm in west­ern Sicily.

While the health ben­e­fits of con­sum­ing extra vir­gin olive oil are well known, the com­bi­na­tion of cof­fee and olive oil has report­edly caused indi­ges­tion and bowel prob­lems for some.

I’ve only tried the cold brew so far. I thought it was sur­pris­ingly good but felt suu­u­u­per heavy in my stom­ach,” wrote a reviewer on Reddit, an online forum.

Registered dietit­ian and nutri­tion­ist, Erin Palinski-Wade told ABC News that these issues might come from high lev­els of fat and caf­feine con­sumed simul­ta­ne­ously.

If you com­bined high fat in a meal or in a bev­er­age along with cof­fee, which already stim­u­lates the bow­els, that com­bi­na­tion could cause cramp­ing,” Palinski-Wade said. It can cause increased mobil­ity in the colon and there­fore have that lax­a­tive effect.”

At 380 calo­ries per serv­ing (19 per­cent of daily intake based on a 2,000-calorie diet), a Grande Oleato Cold Brew has more calo­ries than a McDonald’s cheese­burger (298 calo­ries).

While olive oil is a sta­ple in the Mediterranean diet and is asso­ci­ated with lower risks of heart dis­ease, Duane Mellor, an asso­ciate dean of pub­lic engage­ment at Aston Medical School, said there is no proof of any med­ical ben­e­fits to adding olive oil to cof­fee.”

Regarding the fla­vor value extra vir­gin olive oil adds to the bev­er­age, a review of Oleato on BuzzFeed News came to mixed con­clu­sions.

What I was sur­prised to see was the olive oil float­ing on the top of my drink like the after­math of an oil spill in a har­bor,” Fjolla Arifi wrote. I took a sip and was met with an over­whelm­ing taste of Partanna, although my drink only had one table­spoon of olive oil, sup­pos­edly infused into the oat milk.”

Meanwhile, TikTok influ­encer Rachel Cheng was slightly more pos­i­tive in her review. I def­i­nitely would say it was worth a try and was a fun lit­tle treat to break up my usual order,” she told BuzzFeed News. It felt a lit­tle heav­ier than what I’d usu­ally get, but I remem­ber how the qual­ity of the olive oil makes me feel bet­ter about that.”

Oleato has also had other pos­i­tive reviews, with cus­tomers describ­ing it as super rich, creamy, and nutty in fla­vor, and not as sweet as the other drinks in Starbucks’ range.”

Another cus­tomer noted: While I got some slight nutty notes with every sip, I would­n’t have been able to tell there was olive oil in the drink if I had­n’t known.”

Starbucks chief exec­u­tive Laxman Narasimhan has described the bev­er­age launch as highly suc­cess­ful,” call­ing it one of the top five prod­uct launches in the last five years in terms of brand aware­ness and excite­ment.”

After Oleato’s May 2023 debut in Paris, the food critic of Konbini, a cul­ture and lifestyle mag­a­zine cater­ing to young peo­ple, attempted to recre­ate the recipe at home and was dis­ap­pointed with the result.

Frankly, I like exper­i­ment­ing, and I’m not a cof­fee purist, but this will be a big no,” he wrote. In my home­made recipe, noth­ing is bal­anced, the olive oil brings out the acid­ity of the cof­fee and the bit­ter­ness of the hazel­nut, and I won’t go much fur­ther than a few sips. Verdict, for me, olive oil, it will remain in the vinai­grette.”

However, Christian Gurria, Starbucks’ direc­tor in France, agreed with Narasimhan’s ver­dict and described the mar­ket debut as a great oppor­tu­nity to invite cof­fee lovers in the Paris region to taste our lat­est inno­va­tion.”


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