The world’s largest coffee chain Starbucks says it is launching a line of olive oil-infused drinks in Italy.
Chief executive Howard Schultz says olive oil’s “unexpected, velvety, buttery flavour… enhanced the coffee and lingers beautifully on the palate.”
Starbucks is among the major US businesses that have faced obstacles as they tried to expand into the Italian food and drinks market.
Italy’s coffee scene is famous for its independent and often family-run cafes. Starbucks currently has around 20 stores in the country.
“Now, there’s going to be people who say, olive oil in coffee? But the proof is in the cup,” Mr Schultz said on the company’s website.
“In over 40 years, I can’t remember a moment in time where I’ve been more excited, more enthused,” he added.
The firm plans to bring the selection of hot and iced drinks to stores in Southern California in the US this spring. The UK, Middle East and Japan are set to follow later this year.
The Oleato range, which will be launched on Wednesday in Italy, features an iced shaken espresso and a latte with olive oil “steamed with oat milk”.
There will also be a cold brew coffee in which “a silky infusion of Partanna extra virgin oil with vanilla sweet cream foam… slowly cascades through the beverage”.
Olive oil is a key part of the Mediterranean diet, associated with countries including Italy, Greece and Spain.
Its health benefits can partly be attributed to its monounsaturated fatty acids, which contain vitamins and minerals, and polyphenols, that are micronutrients derived from plants.
The term “drink olive oil” trended on video-sharing platform TikTok last year, with supporters saying it had anti-inflammatory properties.
Some Italians called for a boycott of Starbucks when it announced plans to open its first store in the country in 2018.
At that time, Mr Schultz said: “We are not coming to teach Italians how to make coffee. We’re coming here with humility and respect, to show what we’ve learned.”
Last year, news that Domino’s Pizza was leaving Italy was celebrated by some social media users. The fast food giant had struggled to win over customers in the birthplace of pizza since launching there in 2015.
It faced increasingly stiff competition during the pandemic as local restaurants signed up to food delivery platforms like Deliveroo and Just Eat.