A Well Oiled Brew

Starbucks Oleato

What do you get when you cross a coffee bean and an olive?

Starbucks has just released a new series of drinks in Canada, and DINE was invited to be one of the first few to taste them!

Starbucks Blonde Espresso Roast is blended with Partanna extra virgin olive oil for a silky smooth Oleato Caffe LatteOleato Iced Shaken Espresso, and Oleato Golden Foam Cold Brew. Each drink has its own unique character, but they each have one thing in common: a spoonful of olive oil.

Olive oil and coffee…imagine that. As a barista, myself, I have prepared coffee in many unusual ways, and I’m always open to new ideas. Would this measure up to the hype, or would it mix like, well, oil and water?

Starbucks Oleato
It’s all in the steaming. Baristas know that to make a delicious latte you must steam your milk properly. When the milk is steamed with the olive oil, the richness of the olive oil coalesces with the sweetness of the frothy milk. Pour that into the espresso and voila! A smooth elixir with a voluptuous mouthfeel.

This is the swan song of former Starbucks CEO, Howard Schultz, who was inspired by observing Italians sip a spoonful of olive oil in the morning. The health benefits of olive oil have long been lauded. And so, the idea of combining morning rituals percolated in his imagination.

With soft but uplifting Italian music playing amidst a setting of olive oil trees and hors d’oeuvres, we sampled the coffee and the olive oil separately. The espresso had no crema and appeared thin, but its aroma was rich with notes of fruit and bittersweet chocolate. When tasting the Partanna olive oil, I covered my cup with my hands, swirled it around, and then pressed my nose into the cup for a deep aromatic wave of artichokes and almonds. Its earthy flavours were enveloped in a milky smooth texture with a slightly peppery finish.

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Starbucks Oleato
All combined, the Oleato Caffe Latte, made with Starbucks Blonde Espresso Roast, Partanna Olive Oil and oat milk, has an enticing, nutty aroma with a velvety mouthfeel in which the olive oil and faint espresso taste complement each other harmoniously. The Oleato Iced Shaken Espresso is treated to an Oleato Cold Foam, has more of a toffee and nutty essence. The olive oil is more understated.

The reason for adding the olive oil is not merely to deepen the flavour profile, it’s also because there are chemical interactions that have specific benefits, too.  The olive oil neutralizes the acidity of the coffee and slows the absorption of the caffeine to prevents the jitters.

“Oleato” is Italian for “oiled.” After my latte tastings, I certainly feel well-oiled to kick start the day.

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