Chantico and Coffee Don't Mix?

Valentine's Day is right around the corner, and everyone knows that's one of the most chocolate-centric holidays around. This year, though, there will be no treating your sweetheart to a Chantico after the big Valentine's Day dinner, because Starbucks (Nasdaq: SBUX  ) has discontinued the decadent drinkable chocolate.

Of course, given the word on the street, it's likely you had no intention of buying a Chantico for your sweetheart, and that's the problem. Chantico has proved to be an anomaly for Starbucks -- a product that went over like a wilted bouquet on Valentine's Day.

Is Starbucks losing its rep for good taste?

Last year at this time, Starbucks was poised to release the rich, drinkable dessert beverage Chantico amidst mouth-watering fanfare. I certainly didn't disagree with Fool contributor Brian Gorman when he observed that the company could very well have another big hit on his hands. He also observed another important element: If Starbucks could push gourmet coffee, there seemed to be little reason why it couldn't push gourmet, drinkable chocolate.

On the other hand, Brian also mentioned the drink's daunting calorie count -- and I certainly think that might have been a barrier to success. Despite my own chocoholism, calorie count was one of the reasons I never even tried Chantico. I figured my daily latte was about as much caloric intake as I'd like to take in from a beverage, and so I did my best to just stay away.

Meanwhile, a story from USA Today quotes a company spokesman who said that the beverage's demise stemmed mostly from the fact that it was an "as-is" product. Anybody who knows Starbucks knows that one of the draws is the individualism that can be achieved by customizing drink orders -- think half-caf, sugar-free, skim, and soy, for example.

Chantico is being described as what many might see as an impossibility for Starbucks -- a product "flop" -- although folks on our Starbucks discussion board are taking issue with that description. (One heard the drink isn't being dumped at all but rather renamed, while another, who happens to be a Starbucks barista, said that the product is indeed customizable -- at least at her store.) Regardless, take heart, chocolate lovers: Starbucks is experimenting with other products that integrate chocolate.

As a shareholder, I'm not too concerned about the loss of Chantico. Starbucks' drink creations generally do go over well. And although I recall that Starbucks had envisioned Chantico to lure more customers into its stores in the evening hours, I'd venture to guess that the coffeehouse achieves that regardless. As long as there's decaf, some cushy seats, wireless Internet, some pleasant music, and a selection of other desserts -- and earnings reports like this one -- I'd say there's little reason to worry about Starbucks losing its good taste.

Read more about Starbucks in the following Foolish articles:

Alyce Lomax owns shares of Starbucks. The Motley Fool has an ironclad disclosure policy.


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