Why Starbucks' Chantico Drink Flopped

Starbucks may be the world's top coffee company, but they've had their fair share of mistakes. The Seattle based coffee franchise first opened its doors in 1971, and since then, it has experienced some missteps, including their Chantico drinking chocolate (via Business Insider).

The extravagantly rich Chantico was launched by Starbucks in January 2005 and retailed for between $2.65 and $2.95. Described by some of its passionate fans as a "grown-up hot chocolate," the drink was inspired by the sweet hot chocolate commonly found in European cafes (via NBC News). Coming in at 390 calories and 20 grams of fat per 6-ounce cup, the drink certainly wasn't friendly to anyone sticking to a diet. "Imagine drinking a melted truffle and you're close to the Chantico chocolate experience," Michelle Gass, Starbucks' then-senior vice president of category management, revealed to CNN at the time of the drink's debut. The drink barely survived the year, and was scrapped the following January.

Why did the Chantico fail?

When news was released in 2006 that the drink would be discontinued, Starbucks' then-spokesman, Alan Hilowitz, said the Chantico was taken off the menu due to a lack of available customization options. "It was something that customers did like, but they wanted to be able to do something else with it. We wanted to go back and give customers what they are looking for," he explained to NBC News at the time.

Most Starbucks customers were used to tailoring drinks to suit their personal tastes and dietary restrictions, whether that was by opting for different added syrups, milk options, and sizes. The Chantico was only available in the relatively undersized 6-ounce option and had no available customization. It would be another four years until Starbucks would launch items like the However-You-Want-It Frappuccino, but the company was clearly aware that custom drinks played a huge role in their success (via Starbucks Stories).

Fans of the drink mourned the loss of the warm and deeply rich Chantico while Starbucks tried to suggest other drinks to soothe their chocolate indulgence. According to The Morning Call, during one fan's odyssey to get their fix, they claimed that Hilowitz suggested their new Marble Mocha Macchiato as a substitute drink. However, after giving the item a try, the patron felt the beverage lacked the "pure, unadulterated chocolate" flavor they were looking for.