photobucket/welsh73 Starbucks is constantly coming out with new drinks and products to keep customers coming back again and again for a fresh twist on their caffeine fix.
Starbucks is constantly coming out with new drinks and products to keep customers coming back again and again for a fresh twist on their caffeine fix.
Some beverages, like the Pumpkin Spice Latte that debuted in 2004, have become mainstays on Starbucks’ menu.
But others, like “Chantico” liquid chocolate and “Mazagran” — a coffee-and-soda hybrid — failed miserably.
We rounded up some of Starbucks’ biggest fails with the help of Melody Overton, a Seattle attorney who runs the blog StarbucksMelody.com.
Joe Magazine was launched in 1999 by Starbucks in partnership with Time Inc. It survived just three issues before the plug was pulled.
Overton, who purchased an issue of the magazine on eBay, described the articles as “esoteric” and “abstract.” One issue ran an article that compared office cubicles to electronic coffins. Another article described the transformation of a California town into a film set.
Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz talking about the failed venture in a book called “Contemporary Business (2009 Update)” by Louis E. Boone.
“I took Starbucks into the magazine business with Joe – my idea,” he says. “Nobody read it. Since Joe failed, I’ve kept a rack of issues in my office so everyone can see the magazine and realize we shouldn’t hide behind our mistakes and we should have the courage to keep pushing by not embracing the status quo. I keep that there as a memento. It was an embarrassing defeat and we lost a fair amount of money, but sometimes you have to have the courage to fail.”
Barista Bar Blender
The Starbucks Barista Bar Blender was rolled out in stores in 2003 and cost around $100, according to Overton.
An ad for the blender reads, “Whip up everything from rich coffee smoothies to creamy dessert drinks, even frosty cocktails — all in a matter of moments.”
The company released a few recipes with the machine, including an “Irish Bliss” smoothie with Starbucks coffee ice cream, almonds and chilled coffee.
But the company failed to wow Frappuccino and smoothie drinkers, or at least show them how the machine was any different from a regular brand-name blender. It was eventually discontinued.
Named after the Aztec goddess of hearth and fire, the Chantico was literally liquid chocolate.
It was made of steamed cocoa butter and whole milk for a whopping 390 calories and 20 grams of fat in every six-ounce cup. It was rolled out in January 2005 and cost between $2.65 and $2.95.
“Imagine drinking a melted truffle and you’re close to the Chantico chocolate experience,” Michelle Gass, then Starbucks’ senior vice president of category management, told CNN at the time.
Apparently, no one wanted to drink truffles. The drink was pulled from the menu 11 months after its launch.
Starbucks partnered with PepsiCo to make Mazagran, a bottled hybrid of coffee and soda that was sold in grocery and convenience stores in 1994.
On packaging, the drink was called “sparkling coffee.”
“Some loved it, others hated it,” he wrote. “A lot of customers were willing to give it a try because of the Starbucks brand name, but Mazagran didn’t get the repeat business we had hoped for.”
In 1995, Starbucks ditched the drink in favor of bottled Frappuccinos, which experienced huge success and are still popular today.
VIA Ready Brewers
This was “essentially a hot water brewer — and a very cheap one at that,” Overton wrote on Quora.
The VIA Ready Brewer, which is still available on Amazon.com, does not brew coffee.
As Overton notes, it is only a hot water brewer intended for use with Starbucks’ VIA instant coffee.
This tart and fruity drink came in flavors like “tropical tangy creme” and “berry pink citrus.”
The Sorbetto, which cost about $2.75 for 10 ounces, was rolled out in the summer of 2008 and Starbucks dropped it from the menu one year later.
Reuters reported at the time that “it failed to wow consumers and cleaning the machine that dispensed Sorbetto was a bane to baristas, who complained that it added about 45 minutes to closing duties.”
Tazo Tea Infusions
Starbucks tried unsuccessfully to break into the juicing and tea markets at the same time in 2009 by infusing — or technically steaming — juice into its tea.
Flavors included the Apple Chai Infusion and the Berry Chai Infusion.
In a December 2008 press release, Starbucks marketed the new product as a the “perfect winter pick-me-up.”
From the press release:
“It’s essential to take a pause and allow yourself to feel calm and at peace. In fact, taking a break can clear your mind and enable you to be more productive during a busy day,” says Lisa Drayer, registered dietitian and wellness expert. “A tea break is a quick and simple way to rejuvenate the mind, body and soul in the New Year. And since they provide a boost of anti-aging antioxidants, a tea beverage from Starbucks offers a healthful respite in today’s stressful environment.”
But these drinks didn’t last long on the menu. “Those simply were not popular,” Overton writes on Quora.