Italians have long understood and preached the value of high-quality olive oil for everything from dipping bread to drizzling atop homemade gelato, and now Starbucks has tapped a century-old Sicilian producer to brew up a new coffee innovation.
Oleato, Starbucks' new line of cold-pressed, extra virgin olive oil-infused arabica coffee beverages, makes its debut in the U.S. on Thursday after it first hit menus in Milan in February.
ABC News chief medical correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton joined "GMA" on Thursday to break down the health benefits of fortified food and drinks, like olive oil coffee.
"This is the ingredient that has been associated with lowering bad cholesterol, potentially lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease, blood pressure," Dr. Ashton said of extra virgin olive oil, which is a staple in the Mediterranean diet. "It's packed with antioxidants."
"But it's not cheap," she continued, "Or you can make it at home and try a little teaspoon in your coffee. I'm not so sure about the taste, but I haven't tried it yet."
The Seattle-based coffee chain partnered with Partanna, owned by the Asaro family, a fourth-generation business based in the Belice Valley of Sicily with over 100 years of experience farming and crafting premium olive oil, to concoct the new slate of drinks.
"When creating the beverages, we were inspired by the rich history and origin stories of coffee and olive oil -- two of nature's most transcendent ingredients," Amy Dilger, principal beverage developer for Starbucks. said in a statement. "Infusing Starbucks coffee with olive oil yielded a velvety smooth, rich texture, with the buttery, round flavors imparted by the olive oil perfectly pairing with the soft, chocolatey notes of the coffee."
Starbucks has long drawn influence from Italy's romance and reverence for the art of coffee and hailed this new venture as a "transformational innovation in coffee."
The company's longtime and now-interim CEO Howard Schultz recalled his first trip to Milan in 1983, and being "captivated by the sense of community, connection, and passion for coffee I found in the city's espresso bars."
"It was that trip that inspired me to bring the ritual of handcrafted espresso to Starbucks and to America. Oleato represents the next revolution in coffee that brings together an alchemy of nature's finest ingredients," he said in a press release. "Today I feel just as inspired as I did 40 years ago, Oleato has opened our eyes to fresh new possibilities and a transformational way to enjoy our daily coffee."
The company said this new inspiration came from "a family tradition that has existed in regions of Italy for generations -- enjoying a spoonful of extra virgin olive oil each day as an uplifting ritual."
That tradition recently turned into a social media trend that left nutritionists and medical experts explaining the overall health benefits and impacts.
Read more about that here.
Partanna makes a "highly curated blend of extra virgin olive oil" using the finest Mediterranean olives, such as the high-quality Nocellara del Belice -- aka Castelvetrano -- olives from Sicily.
At launch, the drink menu will include an Oleato Caffè Latte, Oleato Iced Shaken Espresso and Oleato Golden Foam Cold Brew:
- Oleato Caffè Latte: Starbucks Blonde Espresso Roast, a light roast that is smooth and subtly sweet, is infused with Partanna extra virgin olive oil and steamed with creamy oatmilk to create a velvety smooth, deliciously lush latte.
- Oleato Golden Foam Cold Brew: The inviting aroma of lush Partanna extra virgin olive oil infused cold foam cascades slowly through the dark, smooth cold brew, creating a subtle sweetness in the beverage.
- Oleato Iced Shaken Espresso: This coffee-forward beverage offers layers of flavor sweetened with notes of hazelnuts, rich espresso and creamy oatmilk infused with Partanna extra virgin olive oil.
Plus, the Starbucks Reserve Roastery in Milan will debut some additional beverages: the Oleato Iced Cortado, Oleato Deconstructed and Oleato Golden Foam Espresso Martini.
In select markets, Starbucks will have the option for customers to "add a press," the equivalent to a spoonful, of Partanna extra virgin olive oil as a customization to select beverages.
"The press will then be infused -- steamed, shaken or blended -- as a customization into select drinks such as espresso beverages and tea lattes," the coffee brand said.
Starbucks will roll out Oleato in Japan, the Middle East and the United Kingdom later this year.
An earlier version of this story was originally published on February 22, 2023.