Starbucks’ New Drinks Have a Spoonful of Olive Oil, and Were Inspired by the Longest-Living People on the Planet

Photo: Starbucks

Drinking coffee is a sacred ritual for many of us. For some, it's one of the only ways to transform from sluggish zombie to busy bee early in the morning, too: Before we can even begin to tackle our long to-do lists for the day, an obligatory run to Starbucks is usually the first order of business. Soon, however, we might be trading in our usual grande soy latte for a new line of drinks with an added upgrade inspired by some of the longest-living people on the planet (and no, it's not pumpkin spice).

Starbucks recently announced that it's rolling out a new line of olive oil-infused coffees—known as Starbucks Oleato Coffee—which combines Starbucks’ arabica coffee with an entire spoonful (a tablespoon) of Partanna cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil. Debuting first in its Italian locations, the new drinks will include options like:

  • Oleato Caffé Latte: Made with olive oil and oat milk
  • Oleato Golden Foam Cold Brew: Made with a version of Starbucks’ sweet milk foam infused with two olive oil servings
  • Oleato Iced Shaken Espresso: Made with shaken espresso, oat milk, hazelnut flavor, and olive oil

Following yesterday's initial launch in Milan, Starbucks will begin to introduce Oleato in select markets around the world, starting with Southern California in the United States this spring. And later this year, it's coming to Japan, the Middle East, and the United Kingdom.

According to Starbucks, inspiration for the new line of coffee olive oil drinks came after Howard Schultz, the CEO of Starbucks, was introduced to the Italian custom of drinking a spoonful of olive oil a day while traveling in Sicily. So, as one in his position does, he started mixing it into his morning cup of joe.

“In 1983, I took my first trip to Italy and discovered the extraordinary relationship that the Italian people have with the Italian coffee bar, and specifically espresso. I raced back to the United States with a vision and a passion to bring that to Starbucks,” Schultz shared in the news release. “I was absolutely stunned at the unique flavor and texture created when the Partanna extra virgin olive oil was infused into Starbucks coffee. 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.”

Clearly, the combination of coffee and olive oil was a match made in heaven. What’s more, these two all-star ingredients are packed with health benefits that are integral in the daily diet of several Blue Zones, aka longevity hotspots around the globe. More ahead on these two longevity-boosting ingredients popular amongst folks living well into their 100s.

Why olive oil is such an integral part of several Blue Zones diets

Schultz came across a longstanding tradition rooted in one of the most important ingredients in the Mediterranean diet: Olive oil. "In Ikaria, Greece, we found that people aged 65 and older that consume at least four ounces of olive oil per day were associated with the lowest mortality rates,” Dan Buettner, a National Geographic reporter, longevity expert, and founder of the Blue Zones previously told Well+Good. Olive oil is very popular among other Blue Zone regions, including Sardinia, Italy, and Loma Linda, California.

But this comes as little surprise, considering the fact that olive oil has long been lauded for its impressive health benefits. More specifically, it’s high in heart-healthy omega-3s and unsaturated fats which can help reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke, has anti-inflammatory properties, and is very high in antioxidants that fight free radicals.

From a taste standpoint, olive oil has rich, peppery notes that leave a slick, luxurious mouthfeel on the tongue. When mixed with Starbucks coffee, it adds depth and dimension to the drink. According to Amy Dilger, principal Starbucks beverage developer, the olives used to make the drinks are sweet and buttery, which further helps enhance the flavors of the coffee. “I think of all the buttery caramels that we mix with our coffee. That buttery smooth richness combines so well with our coffee,” says Dilger in a recent Starbucks blog post. “The infusion is really important. When you infuse Partanna extra virgin olive oil by steaming or shaking it with oat milk, it creates this luxurious, textural experience that’s similar to whole milk."

What are the benefits of coffee, and why is it so popular in several Blue Zones?

Clearly, olive oil isn’t the only star destined for fame and glory in Starbucks’ new collection of drinks. Although there are differences in customs and traditions, coffee is an integral part of several Blue Zones, including in the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica and in the Mediterranean regions of Ikaria and Sardinia.

It’s worth noting that Costa Rica is one of the largest coffee-producing countries in the world and a hub that Starbucks frequently sources from. There, Costa Ricans sip coffee throughout the day; in Ikaria, many folks sip Turkish-style coffee, which is highly concentrated. As for Sardinians, they often gather at a local coffee shop and drink their coffee together after a meal or as a pick-me-up later in the day.

But aside from that healthy jolt of energy, coffee is packed with health benefits. Namely, it's a source of essential nutrients like vitamin B5 (for making red blood cells), manganese (for bone development and metabolism), potassium (for lower blood pressure), magnesium (for energy production and sleep), and niacin (convert vitamins into useable energy), dietitian Tracy Lockwood Beckerman, RD, previously shared with Well+Good. Not to mention, it’s one of a gastroenterologist’s approved drinks due to its antioxidant content that helps reduce inflammation...and ability to help keep you, you know, regular.

All to say, the combination of olive oil and coffee feels like an joy-sparking pair if ever there was—for much more than just how delicious it may taste.

An RD explains the benefits of consuming coffee:

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