How do you take your coffee? Black? Maybe with some milk and sugar? How about infused with olive oil?
Olive oil may sound unexpected, but Starbucks launched a new drink concept that is poised to make olive oil and coffee an everyday pairing. It’s called Oleato™ and it infuses Starbucks Reserve® coffee with Partanna® extra virgin olive oil from Sicily.
You can order Oleato™ beverages at select Starbucks across the US, with many located right in Seattle. However, the most unique way to try them is through the Oleato™ Tasting Experience available at Starbucks Reserve® Roasteries in Seattle and Chicago, plus the Starbucks Reserve® store in NYC’s Empire State Building.
Partanna® extra virgin olive oil that’s used in Oleato™ beverages at Starbucks. Adria Saracino
This barista-led experience takes about an hour and includes a five-step tasting that breaks down what makes Oleato™ beverages so velvety smooth and complex. You’ll get to try the coffee and olive oil by itself, followed by:
This beverage pairs Starbucks Reserve® Espresso and Partanna® extra virgin olive oil infused with a passion fruit cold foam.
Oleato™ Iced Cortado
This drink includes Starbucks Reserve® Espresso, demerara syrup, a dash of orange bitters, and oat dairy alternative infused with Partanna® extra virgin olive oil. It is then served over ice and finished with an orange peel, similarly to a cocktail.
Oleato Golden Foam™ Cold Brew or Oleato Golden Foam™ Espresso Martini
You get to choose between a cold brew or martini as your last beverage. The Starbucks Reserve® Cold Brew is lightly sweetened with vanilla syrup and finished with a Partanna® extra virgin olive oil infused cold foam. The martini includes Starbucks Reserve® Espresso, vodka, and vanilla bean syrup topped with golden foam—a fusion of fior di latte (sweet cream) and Partanna® extra virgin olive oil.
Starbucks and Visit Seattle invited me to the Oleato™ Tasting Experience at the Starbucks Reserve® Roastery in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. The experience takes place at the back bar, but still within sight of the machinery that begins roasting around 9 AM daily.
The Starbucks Reserve® Roastery in Capitol Hill where you can try the Oleato™ Tasting Experience. Adria Saracino
Barista Taylor started the experience stating how Oleato™ is alchemy aimed at changing how we think of coffee. He explained how Starbucks introduced the world to nitro brew and hopes Oleato™ will be the next wave of innovation in the industry. Typically, Starbucks takes over a year to introduce new concepts to the world, but Taylor said Oleato™ came to market in about six months.
It was inspired by one of Howard Schultz’s (the former CEO of Starbucks) trips to Italy. He was drinking a lot of exceptional coffee, taking in the sights while mingling over seemingly endless cups of espresso. He was also visiting farms making some of the best quality olive oil. Schultz noticed that a lot of the same passion and craftsmanship goes into producing both coffee and olive oil. It got him thinking: what if you combined them?
He brought the idea back to his team and half a year later Oleato™ was available for the world to try. To make it happen, Starbucks partnered with the Asaro family, a fifth-generation Sicilian farming brand that produces Partanna® extra virgin olive oil.
Taylor explained that Asaro’s olive oil uses cold-pressed Castelvetrano olives. They take the first crop of the season and press it in temperatures under 70°F so that it produces a smooth oil that won’t burn the palate. I got to try Partanna® extra virgin olive oil by itself and with Princi bread, the Milanese brand that stocks all Starbucks Reserve® Roasteries. Taylor was right in that it didn’t burn, but just gave off subtle floral and grassy notes.
I also tried the Starbucks Reserve® Ecuador Loja coffee by itself before moving onto the Oleato™ beverages. It was delicate and sweet with notes of dried apricot and butterscotch. Since Starbucks got its start selling just beans, the roasteries have a lot of beans available for purchase. I liked this coffee so much I took home a bag!
After trying the olive oil and coffee separately, Taylor moved us onto the Oleato™ Deconstructed beverage. We built it together, first trying the passion fruit foam by itself. I loved how zippy and acidic the foam was alone, but I couldn’t imagine how it’d taste with olive oil and coffee added.
Next Taylor had us drizzle in the olive oil and emulsify it with vigorous stirring. The olive oil tones down the passion fruit and adds an earthiness to the otherwise sweet foam.
Lastly, he had us pour in Starbucks Nespresso, and wow this really changed everything. The passion fruit became less acidic while the dark roast became less bitter. The olive oil was present with subtle grassy undernotes that tickled the back of my throat in the most exciting way.
The Oleato™ Iced Cortado beverage that’s part of the Oleato™ Tasting Experience at the Starbucks Reserve® Roastery in Capitol Hill. Adria Saracino
Next Taylor moved us onto the Oleato™ Iced Cortado. It was fun watching him make the drink almost as if he was a bartender. He shook martini shakers, stirred ice, and squeezed orange peel juices onto the drink as if it was a non-alcoholic Old Fashioned. The citrus is a nod to the age-old Italian tradition of serving espresso with lemon and, I gotta say, it adds so much brightness to the beverage. Acid and grassiness from the olive oil bounced off my palate to create a complex drinking sensation far superior to what I experience with my daily morning coffee.
For my last drink I chose the Oleato Golden Foam™ Cold Brew. This ended up being my favorite drink of the experience. The cold brew was so smooth and the Oleato™ foam gave it the slightest bit of sweetness. I loved how you could taste the extra virgin olive oil, but it wasn’t as grassy as the Oleato™ Deconstructed or Oleato™ Iced Cortado.
A barista pouring foam into the Oleato Golden Foam™ Cold Brew beverage available at Starbucks. Adria Saracino
I didn’t want the Oleato™ Tasting Experience to end, but Taylor left me with some helpful tips. He mentioned that the experience can be customized to include decaf coffee for kids and those that don’t drink caffeine. He also mentioned that the Oleato™ Deconstructed beverage with passion fruit is only available at the tasting experience, but the other drinks he served are available at select Starbucks. Lastly, he said the Oleato™ foam is incredible with mocha if I wanted to try something new.
A barista pouring foam over the Oleato Golden Foam™ Espresso Martini available at Starbucks. Adria Saracino
All in all the Oleato™ Tasting Experience was the perfect excuse to visit the Starbucks Reserve® Roastery in Capitol Hill. If you haven’t been yet, the space is set up like a theater with a lot of warm wood and “stages,” or bar areas where baristas and roasters can put on a show.
After your experience you can grab more beverages and food to enjoy in one of the roastery’s many cozy nooks, or shop the store to take home Partanna® extra virgin olive oil, coffee, and gifts. Many of the items in the store are from small lot farmers and women-owned or community-based makers, so you can expect something unique to take home as a reminder of your experience.