Starbucks Wants to Make Olive Oil Coffee the Next Big Thing—Here's What Experts Have to Say, Plus How to Brew Your Own Version at Home

According to experts—including a doctor—the coffee giant could be onto something.

Close-up of black coffee on table

Starbucks' newest drink line includes an ingredient brand new to the international coffee chain: Olive oil. The recently announced Oleato Coffee Beverages infuse Italian Partanna extra-virgin olive oil into classic Starbucks drinks, such as the Caffè Latte, Iced Shaken Espresso, and Golden Foam Cold Brew. The idea is said to have come from Starbucks interim CEO Howard Schultz's daily ritual of adding a spoonful of EVOO into his (Starbucks) coffee, for both health and flavor reasons. But is Starbucks' new line of Oleato beverages just a marketing ploy, or is adding olive oil to your coffee a legitimate way to enjoy the beverage to its utmost potential? Since we can't try the drinks ourselves right now—they launched at Starbucks' Italian locations and will eventually be available in California and elsewhere later this year—we asked an olive oil expert and a medical doctor what they think.

The Health Benefits of Olive Oil

"The major benefit of adding olive oil to your coffee would be to take advantage of the health benefits of olive oil—namely the polyphenols, omega-3s, and unsaturated fats—in combination with those of coffee—vitamin B and magnesium to name a few—in order to deliver a powerhouse of nutrients," says Elana Iaciofano of Colavita, an Italian gourmet purveyor of olive oil. "Some would even suggest that the flavor pairing is complementary as well." Olive oil can bring out the richer notes of coffee, and offer a more luscious sip.

And if that flavor pairing is for you, luckily, medical experts agree that adding a splash of extra-virgin olive oil to your morning brew can be physically beneficial. "Olive oil has been shown to have several health benefits," says Ori Rackovsky, a gastroenterologist with Gastroenterology Associates of New Jersey. "This includes high levels of monounsaturated fats, which are healthy, and antioxidants. It has been shown in some cases to reduce blood pressure and triglyceride levels, and despite the high fat content of olive oil, it is not associated with weight gain and obesity."

Gut Health

Extra virgin olive oil can also be helpful for your gut health. Consuming it has been shown to reduce bad bacteria in the gut and help increase good bacteria. "This may result in an increase of development of short-chain fatty acids which have anti-inflammatory effects," says Dr. Rackovsky. Coffee is already considered an anti-inflammatory, so adding some olive oil can just up those benefits.

Those with Acid Reflux May Want to Skip It

Dr. Rackovsky generally doesn't see a problem with combining extra virgin olive oil and coffee, but for those who already suffer from acid reflux, the combination might be an issue.

Making Olive Oil Coffee at Home

You don't have to wait for Starbucks Oleato to enjoy an olive oil coffee. It's easy enough to replicate at home, and you can customize the drink according to your liking. For example, the type of extra virgin olive oil you use in your coffee depends on your personal palate. "Some might prefer a fruitier olive oil, while others a more peppery variety," Iaciofano says.

How Much Olive Oil to Use

To make an Oleato-style beverage at home, Iaciofano recommends starting with a ratio of 1 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil per 8-ounce cup of coffee, but you can add up to 2 tablespoons, depending on preference.

How to Add the Olive Oil to Your Coffee

Starbucks is infusing its creamers with extra virgin olive oil, such as steaming oat milk with extra virgin olive oil to create a frothy effect. If you have a steamer at home, mix the two and go for it! But stirring a spoonful of olive oil into hot coffee will offer similar effects and benefits. Iced coffee drinkers will have to infuse their dairy or alt milk with extra-virgin olive oil, as oil and water don't mix—the olive oil would clump and not incorporate in a cold coffee beverage.

And, if all else fails, give how Mr. Schulz started his extra virgin olive oil and coffee ritual a try: Just swallow a spoonful of extra-virgin olive oil along with your morning espresso and see how you like it and how you feel.

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