Starbucks launches coffee drinks with olive oil in Italy

  • By Annabelle Liang
  • Business reporter

The world’s largest coffee chain Starbucks says it is launching a line of olive oil-infused drinks in Italy.

Chief executive Howard Schultz says that the “unexpected, velvety, buttery flavor of olive oil… enhances the coffee and lingers beautifully in the mouth.”

Starbucks is one of the major US companies that have faced obstacles as they try to expand into the Italian food and beverage market.

The Italian coffee scene is known for its independent and often family-run cafes.

Starbucks currently has about 20 stores in the country.

“In over 40 years I can’t remember a time when I was more excited and enthusiastic,” he added.

The company plans to bring its selection of hot and iced drinks to stores in Southern California in the US this spring. The UK, the Middle East and Japan will follow later this year.

The Oleato range, launching in Italy on Wednesday, includes an iced shaken espresso and a latte with olive oil “steamed with oat milk”.

There will also be a cold brew coffee in which “a silky smooth infusion of Partanna extra virgin oil with vanilla sweet cream foam… flows slowly through the drink”.

Olive oil is an important part of the Mediterranean diet, associated with countries such as Italy, Greece and Spain.

Its health benefits can be attributed in part to its monounsaturated fatty acids, which contain vitamins and minerals, and polyphenols, micronutrients derived from plants.

The term “drinking olive oil” was trending on the video-sharing platform TikTok last year, with supporters saying it had anti-inflammatory properties.

At that point, Mr. Schultz said, “We don’t come to teach Italians how to make coffee. We come here with humility and respect, to show what we’ve learned.”

The fast food giant has struggled to win customers in the home of pizza since launching there in 2015.

During the pandemic, it faced increasingly stiff competition as local restaurants signed up to food delivery platforms such as Deliveroo and Just Eat.

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