Not my cup of coffee? Italy decides on Starbucks’ new range

Everything Italy and (soon) the rest of the world knows and loves about coffee is about to change. Starbucks has stirred up caffeine culture by introducing a range of coffee-based beverages infused with a popular yet unlikely ingredient – olive oil.

Everything Italy and (soon) the rest of the world knows and loves about coffee is about to change. Starbucks has stirred up caffeine culture by introducing a range of coffee-based beverages infused with a popular yet unlikely ingredient – olive oil.

Currently, consumers can experience the ‘unexpected, velvety, buttery’ flavour of the Oleato™ range at a Starbucks outlet in Milan. The company plans to take the range across the world starting with Southern California, then Japan, the Middle East and the UK.

The bold move was concocted by interim CEO Howard Schultz who, while ‘walking the cobblestone streets’ of Milan four decades ago, first conceived the idea of bringing the authentic Italian coffeehouse experience to Starbucks and America.

More recently, during his travels through Sicily, Mr Schultz discovered and started following the Mediterranean practice of ingesting a spoonful of olive oil every day. Inspiration struck again and he began adding said spoonful to his morning coffee.

Finding the combination to ‘enhance the coffee and linger beautifully on the palate’, Mr Schultz shot the idea towards the Starbucks food and beverage team who whipped up a range of three olive oil-infused coffee-based beverages.

After considering hundreds of varieties, the team found Castelvetrano olives (known for their vibrant and buttery flavour) used to produce the Partanna brand of extra virgin olive oil best suited to Starbucks’ coffee.

Mr Schultz admitted to the possibility of a backlash from traditional Italian coffee drinkers, but he maintains his belief saying, “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.”

Surprisingly, Milanese locals took a ‘live and let live’ approach to the infiltration. While some were coy to the idea due to cultural factors, others described the taste as sweeter and stated that ‘novelties are not necessarily to be rejected’.

One bar owner believed that the Oleato had potential to succeed considering that Italy had become more international and is letting go of its culinary traditionalism. “We are willing to experiment much more,’ he said.

For Starbucks, it looks like the gamble is paying off and the olive-oil coffee is going down smoother than expected.

 

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