We tasted Oleato, the Starbucks coffee made with extra virgin olive oil. Here's what it tastes like.

May 31 2023, 15:31
Three variations for one - clever - gimmick: combining olive oil and coffee in a beverage for an unusual coffee break. Much talk has been had on Oleato, Starbucks' latest creation, so we went to taste it: here's what it's like.

Anyone who has tasted olive oil knows this: espresso is strictly forbidden before a tasting. Two mutually exclusive elements, extra virgin and coffee, but they ended up in the same cup thanks to Starbucks. Uniting them in marriage was in fact Howard Shultz, who last February presented Oleato, the beverage inspired by a local habit of drinking a drop of olive oil in the morning, in his Italian outlets. The idea works, there's no question about that, but we wanted to test the taste as well: before telling you what Oleato tastes like, a round of applause - much deserved - to the staff of the newly opened Starbucks Montecitorio in Rome, which confirms the great training work put in by the coffee chain around the world.

We tried all three expressions of Oleato: the Caffe Latte, the Golden Foam Cold Brew, and the Iced Shaken and decided to exclude the latter (cold brew coffee with cold oatmeal beverage cream and oil emulsion) to devote ourselves to the former two. The golden foam convinced us the least, the olive oil is not perceived on the nose or palate and the foam breaks down after a while. Not a bad drink per se, but nothing particularly innovative.

What Oleato Coffee Latte, Starbucks' hot drink, tastes like.

A well-executed experiment is Oleato Caffè Latte, an espresso emulsified with extra virgin olive oil and whipped with oatmeal drink, a warm and velvety, well-balanced beverage, enjoyable from the first drop to the last. On the nose the olive oil remains hidden, one has to go sniffing for it, but in the mouth everything changes: it is an unobtrusive flavour, perfectly balanced with the other two elements, discreet but no less important. A distant herbaceous hint makes its way among the more classic taste of the (in this case vegan) milk: it teases the palate, a funny and out-of-the-box note. Not so bizarre, though, thanks to the oat drink, a tight hinge between black gold and green gold, which with its delicate, sweet hint manages to well harmonise the whole beverage.

In short: a balanced beverage that we would drink from start to finish.

Oleato Iced Shaken: the cold drink with olive oil and coffee

 The Oleato Iced Shaken is undoubtedly the one in which the hint of extra virgin olive oil emerges the most. An espresso slightly sweetened with a creamy emulsion of oat milk and olive oil, a rather full-bodied layer that floats firmly on the surface. And which releases all its aromas on the nose. It is difficult to decipher every aromatic note well, considering the presence of the other elements (ice cubes included), but in this case a note of tomato with its leaf comes in with strength (and not surprising, considering that the Partanna olive oil-which we did not taste in purity-is a blend made with a high percentage of nocellara del Belice, an olive variety that is known for this scent). The olfactory impact is net: at a first (distracted) analysis it would feel like being in the presence of olive oil - different from the usual, of course - the presence of coffee comes only with greater concentration, and even more so after tasting the beverage. The emulsion on the surface greases the lips, a feature that is not exactly pleasant, but the palate after several sips remains clean. Herbaceous aromas and even a hint of almond puncture the roasted notes of the coffee, which defends itself better in the mouth than on the nose. In this case, however, no tie: 1 to 0 for the olive oil component, no question.

In short: a sui generis, curious but not particularly balanced beverage that we would not reorder.

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