Want That Coffee With Olive Oil? Starbucks Thinks Italians Will.

From a cultural point of view, olive oil, like wine and pasta, is “an ambassador of ‘made in Italy,’” he said, and associating with “a colossus like Starbucks” could improve the visibility of Italian olive oil producers.

Some olive oil producers are intrigued by the new horizons that could open from adding olive oil to coffee, “a very challenging innovation” that could relaunch olive oil’s image “especially among young people,” Anna Cane, president of the olive oil group of the Italian Association of the Edible Oil Industry, said in an email. That said, the association, known as Assitol, noted that olive oil had already migrated from the salad bowl to more innovative uses, including panettone, the Italian Christmas cake, and cocktails like “drinkable pizza,” concocted for Assitol based on olive and tomato. “Oil dream,” a cocktail using grapefruit and olive oil, is expected to be presented this year.

But not everyone is enthusiastic about the new products.

“On one hand, it’s good, because people are speaking about coffee. On the other, it takes away a slice of the market, because if you’re drinking that product, you’re not drinking espresso,” said Giorgio Caballini di Sassoferrato, the founder and president of a consortium that is trying to persuade UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, to recognize espresso as part of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Traditional Italian espresso is not just any coffee, they claim. “It’s a culture, a ritual, a social tradition,” he said. “It’s not a product, it’s a system,” in which class and financial status don’t count. For the most part, “rich or poor, people drink espresso in bars.” It typically costs between around one euro or just above; Starbucks is considerably pricier.

Coffee with olive oil, on the other hand, left Mr. Caballini di Sassoferrato “a bit perplexed,” he said.

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