Posted Sat Oct 3, 2009, 6:54am Subject: Starbucks VIA Taste Challenge
I signed onto FaceBook this morning and was greeted with this offer:
"JOIN THE TASTE CHALLENGE DURING OCTOBER 2 - 5
Our new Starbucks VIA™ Ready Brew instant coffee is just as bold and flavorful as our brewed coffee. But don’t take our word for it. Drop by a participating Starbucks from October 2-5 to take the Starbucks VIA™ Taste Challenge. We’ll give you a free, tall brewed coffee for your time (good on your next visit, with offer card), at participating U.S. locations."
I know that, for the most part, no one here drinks Starbucks, but there are a few who do (yes, we know about you!) Will anyone be partaking of this "challenge"? Have you already tried the VIA?
I can't imagine any "instant coffee" -Starbucks or otherwise- tasting "bold and flavorful." So, as to make this post not just about Starbucks, have any of you tried an instant coffee that you did like?
Posted Sun Oct 4, 2009, 12:43am Subject: Re: Starbucks VIA Taste Challenge
Right at the get-go I want to establish that I don't view Starbucks as great coffee. The brewed coffee is drinkable. I travel between the SF Bay area and Shingle springs CA often and there is a Starbucks in Dixon where I stop for a bathroom break and get a cup of coffee. While not remarkable it is OK.
This weekend they were featuring the instant stuff and the "baristas" were evangelistic about it. I tried the stuff. OK, it is not nasty like Folgers crystals but even with the relatively low bar they set for it (good as their brewed coffee) it fails. I find it to have little flavor at all.
The "barista" claimed to not note a difference but admitted that she only drank coffee with sugar and milk.
The claim is that after twenty years of research they have made a break through. The claim seems to be that they grind their regular beans so fine as to render the grinds soluble. I think they are being careless with the truth. Turkish coffee is ground to a powder and it is not soluble. Now I was no whizz in chemistry but I don't recall learning that if you grind something very fine it becomes soluble if it isn't all ready. Is there some way of grinding to a molecular level which Howie's geniuses have discovered? If an insoluble substance is ground to a molecular level is it then soluble?
Posted Sun Oct 4, 2009, 1:56am Subject: Re: Starbucks VIA Taste Challenge
With all the hype going on throughout the news media I was curious but extremely skeptical. I was in Costco yesterday and they were sampling their latest introduction. One sip and straight to the waste can. Deep within the flavor was a hint of the traditional Starbucks burnt flavor but it was short lived. The breakthrough that they are referring to is the price and if anyone pays this price for a cup of horrible dredge I will be shocked. You can't put enough sugar and cream in it to make it drinkable in my opinion.
Posted Sun Oct 4, 2009, 2:57am Subject: Re: Starbucks VIA Taste Challenge
Call me a glutton for punishment, but I've taken it twice. The first time I picked out the Italian Roast VIA from the Pike's Place drip, the second time I thought the Colombian VIA was the drip. This says more about the fact that I don't like the Sbux roast profile and actually preferred the blander VIA than it does about how "good" the VIA was. That being said, it is head and shoulders above other instants (the second barista gave us some Taster's Choice for comparison, in case we forgot how far removed it is from coffee).
I consider instant coffee to be merely a caffeine delivery system, and the antithesis of how I believe we should treat and think about coffee. But the fact is millions of people drink it. I write a web site about coffee sustainability issues, and people always ask me what brand of instant coffee is the most eco-friendly. Given the market dominance of the big four, in particular Nestle, I usually say that there isn't one. I don't have much doubt in my mind that the beans used by Starbucks for VIA are sourced in a far more responsible manner than those by the big four. I'm working on a post about soluble coffees and VIA to appear in the next few weeks.
I hope Starbucks VIA gives the big four a run for their money. Especially Nestle, a company which has something like half the instant coffee market and a stunningly dismal corporate responsibility record.
With all respect to the product, it's possible it wasn't mixed right. I know our costco was putting in 1 VIA per 16oz of water which is double the volume.
This says more about the fact that I don't like the Sbux roast profile and actually preferred the blander VIA than it does about how "good" the VIA was. That being said, it is head and shoulders above other instants (the second barista gave us some Taster's Choice for comparison, in case we forgot how far removed it is from coffee).
Ditto. That fact that i can be qualified as "not bad" is a pretty amazing step.
This isn't a joke, I would actually buy VIA. I thought it was better less undrinkable than the majority of the coffee you're provided in any given hotel room. It was better than preground in a can drip. I've even had drip at a couple coffee shops that were worse. I can't say the VIA is enjoyable per se, but I didn't find anything particularly offensive and it satisfies the caffiene and general "coffee" thing in the morning. I would definately use it when travelling where I can't bring my grinder and press.
Posted Mon Oct 5, 2009, 6:19pm Subject: Re: Starbucks VIA Taste Challenge
Just got home from giving it a try myself. Now a bit of background - I hated the Green Monster for years, mostly because their coffee was bitter and burned tasting. Anything I had ever tasted had that un-mistakable aroma of "char". That was until they released Pike's Place blend. Wait, is that *acidity* in the cup?!?! Suffice it to say that I certainly don't drink it every day, but some of their brewed coffee's have come a long way, to the point where I can't detect *any* char in the cup.
Getting back on track - I tried the challenge at a close by SB, and was quite surprised. What I had was mixed at the proper ratio (wasn't weak) and had a ton of what I normally identify as Central American acidity. I actually picked the Via as the brewed coffee, which really, really surprises me. One thing I did notice was that as the cups cooled off the Pike's Place held up better, while the Via actually tasted better to me hot out of the carafe. And it is drinkable black!
I had been really prepared to completely dismiss Via as a marketing gimmick, but now I'm not so sure. I immediately realized that next time I travel, I would be purchasing some strictly for use as morning coffee in the hotel room. It is way, way better than anything I've ever had out of one of those in-room makers. But the price is astronomical - it is basically the same price, if not more expensive, as going to a Starbucks and ordering a brewed coffee.
Suffice it to say I'll try it again sometime, just to see if my second experience, with me making it, is equivalent to the test.
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trelhe Senior Member Joined: 24 Jun 2006 Posts: 27 Location: MKE Expertise: Just starting
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Posted Wed Oct 7, 2009, 5:30pm Subject: Re: Starbucks VIA Taste Challenge
Over the weekend I will have to say I did the taste the VIA ( looking for the coupon for a free cup for college daughter) I pick out the VIA right away as the fake coffe it was. It had no body and was flat the taste I will admit was tolerable but i would not purchase it for traveling. I will say myt wife on the other hand that will drink anything as long as it is black and hot like the VIa better because it was not so bitter and laked the burnt taste that comes with their regular brew.
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