Starbucks Chantico

by Michael Alderete on 1/14/2005 · 10 comments

I tried the new Chantico drinking chocolate at Starbucks today. It’s supposed to be richer and smoother and more intense than regular hot cocoa. Or in Starbuck’s marketing speak, a “drinkable dessert with an intense, full-bodied chocolate flavor and silky, rich texture.

It’s pretty good. A little more sweet than I prefer, and certainly no substitute for a true chocolat chaud, but far better than a regular hot cocoa drink, no question.

Would I change the recipe if I was in charge? Absolutely. I’d love a darker, less sweet, more bitter, intense chocolate flavor. But for a mass market product, it seems kind of daring. Given the products available in the US, I get the impression that most Americans want a watered down, dusty, sugary, choco-flavored powder-based drink. The Chantico at least avoids being that, and could actually be too strong for the American palate used to Quick and Swiss Miss.

I hope it’s successful. And I hope that Peet’s offers a competing product, with the differences I expect from Peet’s: darker, more intense. It still won’t be a chocolat chaud, but it’ll be worth getting regularly (I do love chocolate). In the meantime, I’ll probably get a Chantico every other week or so.

Debby January 17, 2005 at 6:10 pm

I think you would like Schokinag’s Extreme Dark drinking chocolate. It is intense, less sweet but no less rich. See http://www.drinkyourchocolate.com for more info.

Simon January 18, 2005 at 12:06 pm

I tried the Starbucks drink with great anticipation, and had the same reaction. There really is no substitute for good home-made chocolat chaud.

Ron January 22, 2005 at 9:50 pm

I noticed that Starbuck’s Chantico is actually powder-based (the barista was mixing up a batch when last I went in for a dense cup of the stuff). Sad. It still beats the heck out of their “hot chocolate.”

erik February 1, 2005 at 8:33 am

completely agree - i had my first (and probably only) chantico the other day. i’d bet that it will fade away pretty quickly… too rich for casual hot chocolate drinkers, but waaaaay too sweet for people (like me) who like good chocolate.

helena February 3, 2005 at 11:27 am

I am so sick of all you chocolate snobs. Why does good chocolate or a good chocolate drink have to taste like dark chocolate or without very much sugar? I was disappointed with chantico b/c it was not SWEET or MILKY/RICH ENOUGH.

Recent (or longtime, depends on who you ask) reports about the health benefits of dark chocolate are just dandy. But all this hype has led to the creation of a self-righteous contingent of people who now say that they only like dark chocolate or Venezuelan chocolate without sugar or chocolate that is 72% cacao with beans from Indonesia, etc.

Give me a break.

Milk chocolate is still the best tasting chocolate to eat. I don’t believe any of these bandwagoners who say they “prefer dark chocolate.” To me, dark chocolate tastes like spackle.

When I write my letter to the Starbucks CEO telling him why I am not a fan of Chantico, I’ll say something like this:

Dear Howie:

Nice try with Chantico. As anyone who has traveled the world in search of the greatest chocolate will tell you, it’s too heavy on the dark and too light on the milk. If I would have concocted this concoction, I would have made it taste like what pours out of molten chocolate cake made with Scharffen Berger’s 41% milk chocolate bar. Next time, try consulting women with PMS. They’ll steer you the right way.

Signed, Milky Mamasita

Alderete February 3, 2005 at 1:23 pm

Helena: to each his/her own. I’d rather taste stronger chocolate flavor than have it diluted by too much milk or sugar. You clearly prefer sweet. We all have different palates, and if dark chocolate tastes like spackle to you, well, don’t eat it. But if you think I’m eating something that tastes like spackle to “get on a bandwagon,” you’re pretty far off the trail.

helena February 3, 2005 at 1:58 pm

I am not saying that all dark chocolate lovers are bandwagoners. I am saying that the reports about dark chocolate have led many to decree that dark chocolate is the most superior, delicious or popular chocolate, which, if you believe the American Confectioners Association, is simply not the case. According to the ACA, 65 percent of Americans prefer milk chocolate.

Dark chocolate is trendy, not necessarily better. Of course, many people love dark chocolate (you, for example), and that’s just fabulous. But I would be willing to bet my stash of goodies from La Maison du Chocolat that there are a bunch of poseurs out there singing the praises of dark chocolate who secretly prefer milk, but they just don’t A, want the added calories of milk choc, or B, want the flavonoids (or whatever the health benefit du jour is) of dark choc.

All this dark chocolate hype has GOT to go! I don’t care if dark chocolate cures the dengue virus; it still tastes like crap, and most Americans AGREE!

Alderete February 4, 2005 at 9:29 am

Well, I dunno if 65% of Americans preferring milk chocolate is a selling point. ;-) If we rated foods by popularity, McDonald’s would be the best food in the world, right?

And, we can probably agree, most of the chocolate sold in the US is not very high quality. So while people might “prefer” milk chocolate, I am not sure they’ve given either kind of chocolate a real try.

In any case, to each his own. Mine’s dark, most of the time.

Alderete February 21, 2008 at 9:26 pm

The New York Times has a great article that talks about the “new” milk chocolate.

“NYTimes: Dark May Be King, but Milk Chocolate Makes a Move”:http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/13/dining/13chocolate.html

It’s a two page read, but well worth your time if you’re a chocolate lover. I was particularly interested by the material at the end, describing how milk chocolate came to be developed, popular, and industrialized, and about the characteristic “sour” flavor of most American milk chocolates.

The “cacao cultists” that helena mentions above come in for a fair share of scrutiny as well, and well deserved. I think in the end, the overall lesson from the article is that there’s no substitute for quality, whether you like milk or dark chocolate.

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