Starbucks is launching olive oil infused-coffee, and even interim CEO Howard Schultz acknowledged there was ‘some skepticism’ about the drink

  • Starbucks launched a new line of olive oil-infused coffee on Tuesday.
  • From Wednesday, a cafe latte, an ice-shaken espresso, and a cold brew will be available at stores in Italy. 
  • Starbucks interim CEO Schultz had called the new line “transformative” and likened it to “alchemy.”

Starbucks has convinced people the world over to buy frappuccinos, often in unusual flavors such as American cherry pie and even Red Velvet Cake

Now, the coffee giant is peddling its new Oleato line — essentially, olive oil-infused coffee.

The new drinks will roll out first in Italy on Wednesday, the coffee chain said in a Tuesday press release. Three beverages — a cafe latte, an ice shaken espresso, and a cold brew will be available at regular Starbucks stores in Italy, said the chain.

These beverages are expected to be available in the US this Spring, starting with outlets in Southern California. The Japanese, Middle Eastern, and UK markets will get them later this year. Customers in certain markets can also ask for a spoonful of olive oil to be added to beverages such as espressos and tea lattes.

The new creations came about after Howard Schultz, the interim CEO of Starbucks, was inspired by the Mediterranean custom of drinking a spoonful of olive oil each day during his travels in Sicily last year. Before long, he started taking olive oil alongside his morning coffee, and “soon he had the idea of trying the two together,” Starbucks said Tuesday.

“There was some skepticism, naturally,” Schultz acknowledged, per a Wall Street Journal report on Tuesday. 

Schultz added Starbucks would not be making any health claims for the olive oil-infused drinks, per The Journal. “There will be haters, there will be cynics. We’re ready for them,” he told the media outlet. Schultz did not specify what these health claims were, but Starbucks executives told The Journal that these drinks could cater to those customers interested in drinking olive oil for health reasons

Schultz had teased the new olive oil-infused beverage line in Starbucks’ fiscal first-quarter earning call on February 2, and called it a “game-changer.”

“While I was in Italy last summer, I discovered an enduring transformative new category and platform for the company – unlike anything I’ve ever experienced,” he had said. “The word I would use to describe it without giving too much away is alchemy.”

Schultz told CNBC’s Jim Cramer on Tuesday that Starbucks’ new olive oil beverage creations have a “velvety, very luscious, almost creamy buttery flavor” that extends the flavor of the coffee.

Starbucks’ Oleato line is likely Schultz’s last launch as the boss of the coffee chain. The executive who has been the interim CEO of Starbucks since April 2022— is stepping down from the position and passing the baton to Laxman Narasimhan who will be Starbucks’ next CEO on April 1.

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