Starbucks Sorbetto: The 2008 delicious test product that didn’t make it.(A piece of Starbucks history)
Starbucks‘ Sorbetto is long gone. It’s never coming back. It was briefly tested in a few stores north of Seattle. Then it moved to a widespread test in Los Angeles and Orange County. I tried it in both places; Since I regularly travel to Orange County I had it there only a few months after trying it in the small test area north of Seattle.
I absolutely loved Sorbetto. There was a “tropical tangy creme” flavor and a “berry pink citrus” flavor. The test of this product began in about the Spring or Summer of 2008 north of Seattle. By the Summer of 2008, it was launched over many regions of Southern California. The Seattle Times made a very brief reference to the launch of Sorbetto in “Los Angeles area stores” on July 15, 2008 (you have to scroll to the bottom of the article to find the Sorbetto mention).
Roughly one year later, Starbucks gave up on Sorbetto. Melissa Allison’s Coffee City blog mentions it here:
So the real question is why did this great beverage fail? Was it not yummy? It was absolutely delicious. Lots of people liked it. Products can come and go for reasons that do not directly relate to their deliciousness. Here’s my theory on why this treat was a failure: it was launched right at the beginning of the recession. The economy tanked. Starbucks closed stores, yet launched a relatively expensive beverage which was offered in a ten-ounce cup (I remember the cup size because it was such an odd size). The beverage was a bit ambiguous between being a beverage and a dessert. The machines required to make the beverage in the store were a terrible problem. They were incredibly labor-intensive to clean. They took up a lot of precious counter space. They looked like a big Slurpee machine which created a very poor 7-11 type image for Starbucks. All in all, it just didn’t add up. It doesn’t mean that it wasn’t delicious. It just meant that it didn’t work for Starbucks.
I hadn’t planned on writing a blog post on Sorbetto, but I was looking at some pics saved on my work computer and I realized that I had four old photos which gave an idea of what Sorbetto was like. They are very poor quality pics – sorry about that – I took them with an old phone that I no longer use. While I completely recognize that Sorbetto is never coming back to Starbucks (and in truth, we all know that Starbucks tries out all kinds of things that don’t make it to a nation-wide launch) I thought it was an interesting part of Starbucks history to tell.
I recall that with the Southern California launch of Sorbetto there were blue Sorbetto barista aprons for that area. I would love to have one for my collection. I am putting a shout-out here hoping that someone will contact me with an apron that they have for sale or would want to just give away.
Also, if you like reading about Starbucks test products, here is this blog’s link with more info on Starbucks tests: StarbucksMelody.com blog category on test products.
Did any of my readers ever get to try this? What did you think?