The “Oleato” (Italian for “oiled”) line was inspired by the Sicilian tradition of putting a drop of olive oil in one’s morning coffee and went viral amid millions of online comments from those who were both intrigued and disgusted by the idea.
“The rich, nutty flavor of olive comes through immediately while the slight peppery tinge manages to cut through that richness that leaves your lips feeling as though you’ve just put on balm,” I wrote when testing the Oleato Golden Foam Cold Brew in March 2023. “Things start to get weird not long after those first few sips.”
This Starbucks Oleato drink was purchased at the chain’s New York Roastery.
Starbucks launches new drink, makes others available at all locations
Initially, drinks such as the Oleato Golden Foam Cold Brew and Oleato Cold Foam Latte were only available at the Starbucks Reserve Roastery in Milan and select locations in New York, Chicago and Seattle.
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Popularity later pushed Starbucks to expand the line to more U.S. cities and, the coffee chain announced on Jan. 29, it will now be available at locations nationwide.
As part of the expansion, Starbucks is bringing the oil-infused caffé latte to all of its locations and also launching the new Oleato Golden Foam Iced Shaken Espresso with Toffeenut. This menu item is marketed as “notes of warm toffeenut and creamy oatmilk” combined with the richness of olive oil.
The chain is also making it possible to customize any drink with a topper of Oleato Golden Foam — a vanilla foam infused with the taste of the same Partanna olive oil it used in the earlier drinks. To speed up the production line, the Oleato drinks at regular Starbucks locations will be made with the foam while the more complicated drinks made on an olive oil base will be reserved for the larger stores and Roastery locations.
Oleato line to also come to ‘grocery stores, airports and college campuses’
“Following its debut in Italy in February 2023, Oleato beverages are now available at all U.S. Starbucks company-operated and licensed stores, such as those in grocery stores, airports and college campuses,” the chain said in announcing the expansion. “Starbucks Reserve locations in the U.S. also serve a unique lineup of Oleato beverages and offer an exclusive tasting experience.”
The goal, according to the chain, is to make it possible for the curious to try the taste of olive oil without having to commit to a full drink.
Combinations recommended by Starbucks include ordering the Oleato Golden Foam atop its Dragon Drink, Paradise Refresher or the Matcha Tea Latte as well as one’s regular coffee.
While many such promotions are based on the “so weird you have to check it out” interest that eventually dies down with the hype, the Oleato line has proven both incredibly popular initially and a consistent source of sales over the year it has been sold.
During a new earnings call in May 2023, new CEO Laxman Narasimhan said the Oleato line was “one of the top five product launches in the last five years in terms of brand awareness and excitement.”