Thursday, July 30, 2009

Starbucks Caramel Macchiato (Discontinued)

Starbucks Caramel Macchiato TrufflesStarbucks Chocolate is a study in short attention spans.

It was launched barely more than a year ago with little promotion to support it, no website (just a page on the Starbucks site) and a baffling retail plan where it was sold everywhere except Starbucks.

The line included coffee & tea infused chocolate bars, tasting squares and truffles. The packaging echoed Starbucks strong image, was all natural and made no direct mention of Hershey’s as the manufacturer. For Christmas special flavors were created that echoed the seasonal coffee drinks. However, the new brand was a tad on the expensive side and entered the mass-manufactured upscale chocolate market just terms like staycation entered the vernacular.

So last week as Hershey’s announced huge second quarter profits, it also formally announced that they were discontinuing the Starbucks Chocolate line.

CNN Money summed it up pretty well:

But that new line was badly timed because the economy started slowing soon after. Consumers slashed spending last year and early this year, turning away from most extravagances, including pricey chocolate. “The timing of the launch of the Starbucks proposition, frankly, we just missed the window,” said Hershey Chief Executive David West during a Thursday conference call. “Our partner obviously had some other business challenges and the consumer at that price point wasn’t sustainable.”

Added to that happy news about their profits (which were the result of cutting manufacturing costs by closing factories in the US, moving to a Mexican facility, raising prices and using cheaper ingredients), Hershey’s also formalized the discontinuation of Cacao Reserve, Hershey’s own branded high end chocolate line. (Hershey’s also closed Joseph Schmidt, a chocolatier line based out of San Francisco earlier this year and moved all production for Scharffen Berger to Illinois.)

Starbuck's MacchiatoWith this news, I grabbed the last Starbucks product in their line that I hadn’t reviewed yet (and as illustrations for this little death knell post).

The Caramel Macchiato Truffles come in a nicely packaged pair at the ghastly price of $1.39 at the drug store. Honestly, if this sort of truffle pair was available at an actual Starbucks to accompany my plain coffee, I might have gone for it more regularly. With the “startling news” that coffee drinks contain huge amounts of calories which cause cancer, a simple cup of coffee with cream and two truffles would actually be a smaller indulgence than an actual Caramel Macchiato.

I’ve never had a Macchiato (I’ve never actually had anything fancier than a latte or mocha in all my years), so I can’t comment on how well it mimics the frothy creation described thusly by Starbucks:

A signature Starbucks(r) beverage. A creamy mix of vanilla and freshly steamed milk marked with intense Starbucks(r) espresso, topped with velvety foam and our own proprietary buttery caramel sauce.

The milk chocolate shell is nicely molded. It holds a fudgy, smooth cream that tastes a bit like a mocha cheesecake. Sweet, a little tangy with a light coffee taste and maybe, just maybe a hint of toffee (caramel).

It was pretty sweet but with coffee it works ... though the actual coffee overpowers the not-much-coffee-taste.

In the end, I don’t think it was bad timing that sunk this line. I think it was bad merchandising - it should have been available at actual Starbucks. And a year is far too little to decide the success of a new line of chocolate. My view is that Hershey’s is uninterested in building brand loyalty through quality.

The only thing that makes sense about this is the statement on the side of the box:

Starbucks is committed to purchasing cocoa and coffee that are grown and traded in an ethical, transparent and sustainable manner.

To learn more about our cocoa-purchasing practices, please visit us at www.starbucks.com/cocoa

Watching Cadbury & Mars move more and more towards ethically traded and sustainably grown & harvested cacao, I’m not seeing much for Hershey’s except from their Daboga arm. I can see where this Starbucks line is just a liability for profits. Hershey’s has shown itself to be more concerned with profits (and high profits, not just tidy ones) than the quality of its products and place within the economies it locates itself.

Related Candies

  1. Hershey’s announces closing of Joseph Schmidt & Scharffen Berger Bay Area Facilities
  2. Starbucks Chocolate: Eggnog Latte Truffles
  3. Rising Cost of Candy - A Brief Study of Hershey Prices
  4. Starbucks Truffles
  5. Starbucks Chocolate
Name: Starbucks Caramel Macchiato Truffles
    RATING:
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 6 TEMPTING
  • 5 PLEASANT
  • 4 BENIGN
  • 3 UNAPPEALING
  • 2 APPALLING
  • 1 INEDIBLE
Brand: Starbucks (and Hershey's)
Place Purchased: Walgreen's (Echo Park)
Price: $1.29
Size: .84 ounces
Calories per ounce: 150
Categories: Chocolate, Coffee, United States, Hershey's, All Natural, Kosher, Discontinued

POSTED BY Cybele AT 10:43 am Tracker Pixel for Entry    

Comments
  1. Sera's avatar

    I think we all saw this one coming. :/

    Comment by Sera on 7/30/09 at 2:48 pm #
  2. Tricia's avatar

    I’m not a fan of coffee flavors, but I tried one of the tea-flavored starbucks chocolates when they were on sale at Target. I guess I’ll be on the lookout to see what deals they have now that these are discontinued…

    Comment by Tricia on 7/30/09 at 4:53 pm #
  3. Starbucks now has a ice cream line coming out.  I have not seen it yet.

    Comment by Charles on 7/31/09 at 12:06 pm #
  4. starbucks sent me coupon for a free box after they came out

    Comment by Caramel Macciato on 7/31/09 at 6:58 pm #
  5. I tried a bar of the Starbucks milk chocolate from Ralph’s when it was 50% off and I had a $1 coupon to make it 49 cents.  I didn’t think it was even worth that price point—I’d have never paid $3 for it!  I agree that this line did not die because of the economy,  but I would go so far as to say it tasted waxy and just plain not good.

    Your blog is cool—just found it and having fun reading it.

    Comment by Betsy on 8/15/09 at 9:25 pm #

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