Starbucks announced it will soon offer a new line of coffee infused with Partanna extra virgin olive oil, called “Oleato,” offering clarity to a “game-changer” founder Howard Schultz teased recently in a call with investors.
The beverages debut Wednesday at the Starbucks Reserve Roastery Milan and other stores in Italy. The Milan Roastery will serve five coffee drinks (Oleato Caffé Latte, Oleato Iced Cortado, Oleato Golden Foam Cold Brew, Oleato Deconstructed, and Oleato Golden Foam Espresso Martini) while the Italian shops will feature Oleato Caffè Latte, Oleato Iced Shaken Espresso, and Oleato Golden Foam Cold Brew.
The Oleato category will be released in Southern California this spring. Later in 2023, it will come to Japan, the Middle East, and the U.K. Starbucks didn’t indicate which drinks will be available at U.S. locations.
Here are brief descriptions of the unveiled flavors:
Oleato Caffè Latte — Made with Starbucks Blonde Espresso Roast and Partanna extra virgin olive oil, steamed with oatmilk.
Oleato Iced Shaken Espresso — Layers of Starbucks Blonde Roast Espresso, hazelnut syrup, and oatmilk shaken with Partanna extra virgin olive oil and ice.
Oleato Golden Foam Cold Brew — Capped with a layer of golden foam, mixed with an infusion of Partanna extra virgin olive oil with vanilla sweet cream foam.
Oleato Iced Cortado — Starbucks Reserve Espresso, demerara syrup, a dash of orange bitters, and oatmilk infused with Partanna extra virgin olive oil, served over ice and finished with an orange peel.
Oleato Golden Foam Cold Brew — Starbucks Reserve Cold Brew that’s lightly sweetened with vanilla syrup and finished with Partanna extra virgin olive oil infused cold foam.
Oleato Deconstructed — Pairs Starbucks Reserve Espresso and Partanna extra virgin olive oil infused with passionfruit cold foam.
Oleato Golden Foam Espresso Martini — Starbucks Reserve Espresso, vodka, and vanilla bean syrup topped with golden foam, a fusion of fior di latte (sweet cream) and Partanna extra virgin olive oil.
Schultz gained inspiration for Starbucks four decades ago after walking the streets of Milan, and a similar experience in Sicily last year attracted him to Oleato. The industry veteran learned about the Mediterranean custom of taking a spoonful of olive oil each day, and he decided to mix it with his daily coffee.
In early February, during Starbucks’ Q1 earnings recap, Schultz said he was going to return to Milan later in the month (that happened Tuesday) and introduce “something much bigger than any new promotion or beverage.”
The word he used to describe it: “alchemy.”
“I was absolutely stunned at the unique flavor and texture created when the Partanna extra virgin olive oil was infused into Starbucks coffee,” Schultz said a company blog post. “In both hot and cold coffee beverages, what it produced was an unexpected, velvety, buttery flavor that enhanced the coffee and lingers beautifully on the palate.”
The task of formulating Oleato was handed to Amy Dilger, principal beverage developer with more than two decades of experience at the brand. Her first initiative was learning about olives and their history in Italy, and she did so by speaking to family farmers behind Partanna extra virgin olive oil. The more Dilger learned, the more she was reminded of Starbucks coffee.
“Now, there’s going to be people who say, ‘Olive oil in coffee?’ But the proof is in the cup,” Schultz said. “In over 40 years, I can’t remember a moment in time where I’ve been more excited, more enthused that demonstrates the pride, the quality, the passion, the heritage and the craft of what Starbucks can do.”
Starbucks’ North America and U.S. same-store sales increased 10 percent in Q1, driven by a 9 percent hike in average ticket and a 1 percent lift in comparable transactions, year-over-year. Starbucks’ ticket in December was the highest it’s ever been.
Average weekly sales in U.S. corporate units reached a record high in Q1, beating a mark set in Q4 of the previous year. Eight of the 10 highest sales days in Starbucks’ history came during the three-month period. Revenue rose 14 percent to a quarterly high of $6.6 billion.
Active Starbucks Rewards membership in the U.S. exited Q1 over 30 million members, up four million (15 percent) over last year and 6 percent sequentially.