Starbucks creates olive oil coffee to conquer the Italian market


Italians have long been known for their love of coffee and olive oil. Starbucks now hopes to attract more to its chain stores by combining the two, a move that is already polarizing potential customers.

Starbucks announced on Tuesday that it was bringing a new line of coffee infused with extra virgin olive oil from Sicily to Italian stores, dubbing the unexpected alchemy “Oleato” — after the Italian word for oil.

The largest coffee chain in the world has struggled, like other American restaurant groups, to break into the Italian market. When launching its first Italian coffee store in 2017, Starbucks said it was entering the Italian market with “humility and respect” and has since cautiously expanded to 25 stores in northern Italy.

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz said he got the idea for including olive oil in the coffee after he experimentally mixed a spoonful of the green-gold liquid with his own morning brew in Sicily. “I was absolutely blown away by the unique flavor and texture created,” he said in a statement, who heralded the new line of olive oil as a “transformational innovation” for coffee drinkers.

Starbucks baristas will mix the oil with oat milk, either by steaming it or shaking it, before pouring the resulting mixture into a shot glass (or two) of espresso or cold brew coffee. to create a flavor described by its menu designers as “caramel-like”. ”

Many on social media seemed skeptical of the concoction. “Coffee with olive oil!” I have never seen an Italian drink his espresso with olive oil. Pass,” replied a.

Another called the idea “atrocity.” One person responded to the news with an emoji for a confused face.

The coffee will debut in Italy before rolling out to Starbucks stores in Southern California and elsewhere around the world later this year, the company said.

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The Starbucks line described as “butter” includes three olive oil-infused variations of familiar hot and cold coffee beverages; lattes, iced espressos and cold infusions. Customers opting for the oil-blended cold brew will taste “a silky smooth infusion of Partanna extra virgin olive oil with a soft vanilla creme froth, which slowly cascades through the drink to create a smooth yet rich,” Starbucks promised in a description accompanying the menu.

The new line will use oil pressed from a variety of Sicilian olives known as Castelvetrano – described by Starbucks as sweet and reminiscent of some of its syrup options. “I’m thinking of all the butterscotch we mix with our coffee,” Starbucks beverage developer Amy Dilger said of the new flavor in a press release.

It’s not the first time the beverage giant has included the oil in its coffee drinks, although it may be the first time it’s advertised it as an ingredient in campaigns. marketing in such a visible way. Oat milk, which is frequently used as a dairy-free alternative in coffee, already includes vegetable oil, for example — and some Starbucks menus list sunflower oil as an ingredient in its non-dairy milk options.

Italian coffee drinkers are known for their traditional preferences: sipping a cappuccino before noon and preferring a quicker espresso later in the day, often taken standing up at a bar, prompting Starbucks to reshape its standard offering for the local market. . The coffee giant has even designed its Italian stores to feature a bar where customers can hang out — mimicking Italian tradition — and has developed a blend of beans specifically designed to suit the tastes of Italian coffee drinkers.

It’s notoriously difficult for US food chains to break into Italy’s crowded food and drink market, where consumers seem content with what’s already on local menus. In 2022, pizza giant Dominos has announced the closure of its Italian franchise stores following poor sales. “Italians don’t like pineapple pizza,” headlined an Italian daily.

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