Starbucks is debuting a range of olive oil-infused drinks in its 20 Italian stores, with plans to bring the drinks to the UK later this year.

Chief executive Howard Schultz said the idea struck him when he adopted the Italian custom of taking a daily spoonful of olive oil while travelling in Sicily last year.

He said he started adding it to his coffee and found it produced an “unexpected, velvety, buttery flavour that enhanced the coffee and lingers beautifully on the palate”.

The Oleato olive oil range includes a latte, cold brew and the “Oleato deconstructed”, which pairs espresso with olive oil “infused with a luxurious passionfruit cold foam”.

“Now, there’s going to be people who say, ‘Olive oil in coffee? But the proof is in the cup,” Mr Schultz said.

“In over 40 years, I can’t remember a moment in time where I’ve been more excited, more enthused that demonstrates the pride, the quality, the passion, the heritage and the craft of what Starbucks can do.”

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The drinks will be available in Southern California in the spring, while the UK, Japan and the Middle East will see the range on the menu later this year.

Starbucks opened its first branch in Italy in 2018, causing outcry and prompting calls for a boycott.

Protesters even set fire to palm trees planted by Starbucks in Milan.

Last year pizza chain Domino’s pulled out of Italy after failing to win over the ancestral home of pizza.

It had planned to open hundreds of stores by 2030, counting on its delivery model to boost popularity – but when the pandemic forced traditional pizzerias to deliver, it lost its edge.

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