Starbucks Expands Oleato Line to All U.S. Stores

The move comes as the company braces for the publication of disappointing economic data and one year after the line of beverages made its debut in Italy.
By Daniel Dawson
Jan. 30, 2024 19:14 UTC

Nearly one year after the debut of Starbucks’ olive oil-infused cof­fee in Italy, the com­pany has extended its Oleato line to all stores in the United States.

The expan­sion of for­mer chief exec­u­tive Howard Schultz’s brain­child across its largest mar­ket – Starbucks has an esti­mated 15,873 stores in the U.S., 44 per­cent of its total glob­ally – comes as the com­pany pre­pares to release its fis­cal first-quar­ter earn­ings report on Tuesday.

Analysts expect the company’s results from October through December 2023 to fall short of expec­ta­tions as sales grew slower than the same quar­ter last year, and the num­ber of vis­i­tors fell by 2.1 per­cent.

See Also:In Ice Cream, Olive Oil Adds Health Benefits Without Compromising Flavor

The antic­i­pa­tion of dis­ap­point­ing earn­ings comes after the com­pany con­sis­tently met expec­ta­tions over the pre­vi­ous three quar­ters, coin­cid­ing with the release of the Oleato brand in nine coun­tries across Europe, North America and Asia.

One month after Oleato made its February 2023 debut in Milan, Starbucks launched the range of five olive oil-infused cof­fee bev­er­ages across 550 loca­tions in Chicago, New York City and Seattle.

Despite receiv­ing mixed cus­tomer reviews – rang­ing from mod­est praise to com­plaints of indi­ges­tion – the com­pany pushed ahead with a fur­ther U.S. expan­sion before finally releas­ing Oleato at all U.S. stores on Tuesday.

Inspired by a trip to Sicily, where Schultz was intro­duced to the cus­tom of drink­ing a table­spoon of extra vir­gin olive oil before his morn­ing cof­fee, the man behind the world’s most valu­able restau­rant brand hoped the cre­ation of five olive oil-infused cof­fee bev­er­ages would help the com­pany stand out.

Oleato is brewed with a spoon­ful of Partanna Nocelara del Belice extra vir­gin olive oil from the award-win­ning Sicilian pro­ducer Oleificio Asaro dal 1916. After the olive oil is pro­duced in the Belice Valley, Starbucks takes pos­ses­sion and ships it to dis­tri­b­u­tion cen­ters world­wide.

“[The Starbucks team] tasted oils from many other vari­eties and places,” Tommaso Asaro, Oleificio Asaro dal 1916’s chief exec­u­tive, told Olive Oil Times in a September 2023 inter­view.

We com­pared the prod­ucts, and there were def­i­nitely many great oils. Nocellara has a spe­cific taste pro­file and color and only grows in one area,” he said. With its smooth and nutty fla­vor, not so bit­ter, and lit­tle after­taste, it was the per­fect bal­ance.”

The idea was, you don’t want to see the olive oil, but you want to taste and get the ben­e­fits of it,” Asaro added.

According to Asaro, Oleato was already being served (as of September 2023) in 4,000 Starbucks in the United States, Italy, France, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Japan, with plans to expand to China.

While not all cus­tomers are con­vinced about the bev­er­age, pro­duc­ers are opti­mistic that Starbucks will become a global ambas­sador for extra vir­gin olive oil, with the com­pany already serv­ing as a retail out­let for the Partanna brand.

Mixing cof­fee and olive oil is a truly chal­leng­ing inno­va­tion,” Anna Cane, pres­i­dent of the olive oil group of the Italian Association of the Edible Oil Industry (Assitol), told Olive Oil Times in a March 2023 inter­view. Extra vir­gin olive oil is an extra­or­di­nary prod­uct. Giving it value through cof­fee could relaunch its image, mostly among the younger gen­er­a­tions.”


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