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Starbucks’ CEO was so inspired by olive oil in coffee, he made it a menu item. Here are the pros and cons for your health

Image of a Starbucks barista wearing a long-sleeved blue shirt and a tan apron holding a Starbucks drink
Would you like some olive oil with your coffee?

Stateside Starbucks fans, the company’s new olive-oil-infused Oleato drinks are finally available here. But is adding olive oil to your morning brew a good thing? It depends. While there are health benefits to both coffee and olive oil separately, combining the two may be a different story.

What are Starbucks Oleato coffee drinks?

The following Starbucks Oleato drinks are now available in select cities across the U.S., including Chicago, Seattle and New York:

  • Starbucks Oleato Caffé Latte
  • Starbucks Oleato Iced Shaken Espresso
  • Starbucks Oleato Golden Foam Cold Brew

The new line was inspired after Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz’s recent trip to Sicily where he first learned of the Mediterranean custom of taking a spoonful of olive oil each day. “I was absolutely stunned at the unique flavor and texture created when the Partanna extra virgin olive oil was infused into Starbucks coffee,” he said in a statement about the new line. “In both hot and cold coffee beverages, what it produced was an unexpected, velvety, buttery flavor that enhanced the coffee and lingers beautifully on the palate.”

What is Oleato coffee?

Oleato is inspired by the Latin word for “olive” and “an Italian word that nods to the process of infusing the olive oil with coffee,” according to Starbucks. The new line of beverages specifically include Partanna extra virgin olive oil, which is known for its vibrant and buttery flavor.

“When you infuse Partanna extra virgin olive oil by steaming or shaking it with oat milk, it creates this luxurious, textural experience that’s similar to whole milk,” Amy Dilger, principal Starbucks beverage developer, said in a blog post about the new line. 

Is olive oil in coffee good for you?

The health benefits of olive oil are well documented: It’s rich in healthy monounsaturated fats and antioxidants that may reduce risk of chronic diseases. Olive oil also has anti-inflammatory properties that work similarly to ibuprofen. As olive oil is often found in Mediterranean diets, it’s also been proven to help reduce the risk of heart disease and lower blood pressure.

Coffee also boasts several perks, including boosting energy levels and reducing feelings of fatigue

Whether the olive oil and coffee combo offers extra health benefits depends on who you ask. Dr. Steven Gundry, cardiothoracic surgeon and founder of Gundry MD, a supplement and health product company, points out olive oil’s high polyphenol content, which is associated with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

“One of the easiest daily ways to get polyphenols into your diet is to use cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil on everything, including taking a shot of EVOO every day,” he says.

Kara Burnstine, registered nutritionist and certified diabetes educator at Pritikin Longevity Center, takes the opposite stance. “It would not be my recommendation to add olive oil to coffee as the calories are quite high for a small amount of olive oil,” she says. 

“Olive oil, albeit a healthier oil, should still be used sparingly in the diet, so maybe save it for your salad and try adding fat-free milk, soy milk, or almond milk, unsweetened, as a lower-calorie dense option,” she continues.

“Separately coffee and olive oil have shown to have heart health benefits; however putting them together does not add up to a healthy breakfast or added benefit,” shares Burnstine. “Some might say the fatted-up coffee can boost brain health and help keep you satisfied, but I’m still sticking to my oatmeal for my morning brain boost: a great combo of whole grains, fiber, and antioxidants.”

How is Oleato coffee different from Bulletproof coffee?

The coffee plus high quality fat combo may sound familiar. The once trendy Bulletproof coffee recipe contains coffee, unsalted butter, and a medium-chain triglyceride (MCT), such as coconut oil. 

“Both of these fats [in Bulletproof coffee] are considered high in saturated fat, whereas olive oil is high in monounsaturated fat,” says Burnstine. “So similarly, these fats have about 120 calories per tablespoon, but certainly the saturated fats have been shown to increase mortality overall, whereas monounsaturated fats can have positive health benefits.”

But unlike Dave Asprey, creator of the Bulletproof Diet, who said the drink is a high-energy, low-carb breakfast alternative, Starbucks is not making any such health claims surrounding the new Oleato coffee drinks.

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