Starbucks Is Adding Olive Oil in Coffee. Is It Healthier?

ice coffee with olive oil

Photo Illustration by Amelia Manley for Verywell Health; Getty Images

Key Takeaways

  • Starbucks recently announced a new line of olive oil-infused coffee beverages.
  • Replacing coffee creamer with olive oil may offer health benefits, according to nutrition experts.
  • Olive oil contains monounsaturated fats that support heart health, but there’s no additional health benefit from mixing it with coffee.

I’ve never reached for a bottle of olive oil while brewing my coffee, but since Starbucks’ new line of olive oil-infused drinks are only available in Italy, I had to improvise at home.

Oleato drinks, as Starbucks is calling them, are made with a spoonful of cold pressed, extra virgin olive oil and promise to be “velvety smooth, delicately sweet and lush.” My homemade version strayed from the original recipe but had the essential ingredients: espresso, olive oil, and milk. 

After my first sip, I asked myself: Wait, am I an olive oil coffee person now? But the novelty wore off as I kept drinking. The drink was smooth and tasted slightly like olive oil, but I had a hard time swallowing the last sip since a lot of the oil settled at the bottom (maybe that’s why the flavor was so light at first). I’ll try the Starbucks version once it’s available in the United States for comparison, but I’ll stick with my black coffee, sans olive oil, for now.

Starbucks hopes that Oleato drinks will become a “new coffee ritual,” but the coffee giant hasn’t positioned these drinks as a wellness trend. None of the company’s press releases seem to tout olive oil’s health benefits despite its superfood status.

A Starbucks spokesperson told Verywell that enjoying a daily spoonful of extra virgin olive oil is an Italian family tradition that “nourishes the soul.” Maybe Oleato drinks are just that—soul nourishment.

Nutrition experts also seem cautious about advocating for any health benefits of these drinks.

“Both olive oil and coffee provide positive health benefits on their own,” Vandana Sheth, RDN, CDCES, FAND, a registered dietitian nutritionist who owns a nutrition consulting business in Los Angeles, told Verywell in an email. “I would be intrigued in trying the new coffee drinks out of curiosity. However, I am not sure you need to have them together in a drink.”

Should You Replace Coffee Creamer With Olive Oil?

Studies have associated olive oil with heart health and it’s a key component of the Mediterranean Diet, which is often touted as the healthiest eating pattern.

Olive oil offers health benefits on its own and mixing it with coffee doesn’t magically unlock some extra nutritional properties. Alice H. Lichtenstein, DSc, a professor of nutrition science and policy at Tufts University, told Verywell that she wouldn’t expect any nutritional benefit from Oleato drinks unless the olive oil was substituted for cream.

A 2022 study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that replacing butter and dairy fat with olive oil may lower the risk of all-cause mortality. Olive oil is high in healthy monounsaturated fats, while cream is high in saturated fats that could be harmful for heart health.

However, a spoonful of olive oil adds also adds 120 calories to coffee, which can add up over time. “Assuming no displacement by other foods or beverages, this could result in weight gain,” Lichtenstein said.

How Is Olive Oil Coffee Different from Bulletproof Coffee?

Adding olive oil to coffee doesn’t seem like a far leap from the Bulletproof coffee trend that took off in the 2010s. Bulletproof coffee, also called keto coffee, is made with grass-fed unsalted butter and medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil.

Bulletproof coffee is intended to replace breakfast and proponents say the drink boosts brain health, but many nutrition experts point out the high saturated fat content. Time will tell if olive oil coffee will take off in the way Bulletproof did but these drinks are not a like-for-like comparison.

“Olive oil coffee is made with a spoonful of olive oil which is a healthier type of fat compared to Bulletproof coffee,” Sheth said.

Starbucks Oleato drinks may be available in U.S. stores later this year. While experts don’t necessarily recommend having an Oleato daily, it could be a healthier alternative to some of the other drinks on the menu.

“If you’re looking for a more calorie-dense option with health benefits at Starbucks, these drinks might be better instead of those made with a lot of added sugar or syrups and other fats,” Sheth said.

What This Means For You

Olive oil contains healthy fats that may support heart health, but mixing it with coffee will not yield any additional benefits. Consider adding olive oil to your salad dressing or replacing butter with olive oil when cooking instead.

2 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Guasch-Ferré M, Liu G, Li Y, et al. Olive oil consumption and cardiovascular risk in U.S. adultsJ Am Coll Cardiol. 2020;75(15):1729-1739. doi:10.1016/j.jacc.2020.02.036

  2. American Heart Association. Saturated fat.