I tried Starbucks' olive-oil coffees that are slowly debuting in the US, and they're better than I expected
Starbucks' new Oleato line features three olive oil-infused coffee beverages.
The drinks debuted in Italy in February and arrived to select US locations in March.
I'd order the iced drinks again, but I didn't like the taste of olive oil in my hot latte.
I tried Starbucks' new line of olive oil-infused coffee, which arrives in the US in March.
Starbucks launched a new line of olive oil-infused coffee drinks across its 20 Italian branches in February and brought the products to select US locations in March.
The Oleato collection has three core offerings: the caffè latte, the Golden Foam cold brew, and the iced shaken espresso. Each one contains a spoonful of Partanna, an Italian brand of extra-virgin olive oil.
Howard Schultz, Starbucks' interim chief executive officer, got the idea for the products after a trip to Sicily. There, he said he partook in the Mediterranean custom of enjoying a spoonful of extra-virgin olive oil daily and wondered what it would be like to try it with his coffee.
The company plans to introduce the Oleato line to dozens of stores in the US. The first ones to carry the line will be Starbucks Reserve Roasteries in Chicago, Seattle, and New York starting Thursday.
I tried the innovative drinks the day they launched at a Starbucks location in Florence.
At the store I visited, the Oleato drinks weren't available until the day after the official release.
On the morning of the Oleato launch, I arrived at 9 a.m., eager to try the new beverages.
Unfortunately, the baristas told me I'd have to come back the next day to try the drinks due to some logistical delays.
The next day, the same Starbucks was filled with signs and drink samples advertising the Oleato line.
I went back the following day with my Starbucks-loving friend in tow. Sure enough, the store's signage had changed overnight.
The employees were giving out samples of green-tinted Oleato coffees, and the store's large posters and window displays seemed to successfully draw in curious shoppers and commuters.
We ordered all new three drinks.
When it was time to order, we got the Golden Foam cold brew, the iced shaken espresso, and the caffè latte.
The Starbucks Reserve Roastery in Milan also released an iced cortado, a Golden Foam espresso martini, and an Oleato Deconstructed as part of the company's Reserve Oleato line.
These beverages aren't available at all locations.
First up was the hot, milky caffè latte, which ended up being my least favorite of the drinks.
As the barista prepared my Oleato caffè latte, my friend and I watched them steam green olive oil with oat milk and infuse it into a cup of Starbucks' blonde espresso roast.
Before I took the first sip, I could smell the extra-virgin olive oil. Its bitter, slightly savory flavor was immediately evident.
Starbucks describes the caffè latte as a "velvety smooth, deliciously lush latte." Though the olive oil certainly added richness to the drink, I still prefer a standard latte's flavor and texture.
The first sip was interesting, but it tasted cloying and heavy after a few more. Also, I didn't think a 16-ounce grande was worth 5.50 euros, or about $5.83, especially considering that most lattes in Florence cost around 2 euros.
Next, I tried the iced shaken espresso, which came in a large plastic cup with a paper straw.
The chilled beverage had a spoonful of olive oil, just like the caffè latte, as well as a tasty hazelnut syrup. Instead of steaming the olive oil with the oat milk, the barista blended it at high speed before mixing it with the coffee and hazelnut syrup over ice cubes.
Although our barista served the drink with a straw, they recommended tasting it first without one to really experience the olive-oil foam.
The drink, which cost 5.50 euros, was delicious. The olive-oil flavor was still very strong, but the hazelnut syrup gave the beverage a subtle sweetness, too.
For Starbucks customers accustomed to drinking Italian coffee, the iced shaken espresso would probably be a better choice than the caffè latte since it's more unique. The hazelnut syrup is also bound to make it popular with those with a sweet tooth.
Finally, I tried the Golden Foam cold brew, the most expensive of the three drinks.
The barista blended olive oil and vanilla-sweet-cream foam at a high speed before pouring the thick, slightly green foam over ice cubes and some hot espresso.
The main difference between this beverage and the iced shaken espresso was the foam's thickness. This drink's foam was so rich and dense that I could practically eat it with a spoon.
Again, it was nice to try it without a straw to get the olive oil's full creamy effect, but the straw was helpful to get to the coffee.
The regularly sized Golden Foam cold brew was 6.50 euros, a euro more than I paid for the other two beverages.
I think it's best to drink the iced beverages quickly.
The first sips of both iced drinks were pleasant and complex, and they'll probably go down easily for iced-coffee enthusiasts.
But in less than 10 minutes, the olive oil started to separate from the rest of the ingredients, causing an unappetizing oil barrier on top and around the edge of the cup.
I'd try the iced drinks again but don't plan on ordering another caffè latte.
I'd probably try the Oleato iced shaken espresso again and make sure to drink it quickly before the oil has time to separate. But I would definitely pass on the caffè latte.
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