Will it be the "blech" heard round the world? To some, probably. Starbucks is an acquired taste in my opinion - even I used to despise it, and now I find myself craving it in the wee hours of the morning. It's a very strong coffee, and it takes some getting used to. So maybe my tastebuds are deadened?? It's very possible, because when I drink Dunkin Donuts coffee I feel like I'm drinking water with three coffee beans stewing in it. Still, whether you're a fan or not, Starbucks will be mass-promoting their new product throughout the US and Canada starting today. Via will also be sold at Barnes & Noble cafes, Marriot and Omni hotels, American Airlines, Office Depot (where's the connection there?), REI, Compass, and will be breaking into grocery stores in 2010.
The issue here is not the promotion, no one should be surprised at that. This is a franchise that feels it's unnecessary to go more than 2 blocks in any direction for a coffee trip. The question on everyone's mind is – does it taste good? Does it taste the same? I've asked around and the people who haven't tried it hope it tastes a little different, because well, when there's a Starbucks on every corner, how much are you really going to use it when you can roll out of bed and into a Starbucks for a freshly brewed cup? So I decided to go downstairs and grab some samples. There is, of course, one IN my building.
So the instructions are simple – mix packet with 8. oz of either cold or hot water. I opted for cold because I like iced coffee, I will later learn this might not have been the best choice. I used my Grande cup from this morning and filled it with water and ice.
Next I poured in the little packet..
Not looking too appetizing so far, so I started mixing…and mixing..and mixing. The problem with instant coffee and cold water is it doesn't totally dissolve. There are plenty of granules stuck to my straw and to the sides of the cup (you can see it below). Still, I added skim milk and two splendas (normally I get soy milk, but I work in a non-soy-friendly office), and took a sip.
My overall reaction? Not too bad. I am surprised to say that it is pretty close to what the brewed stuff tastes like. It has that instant coffee aftertaste a little bit, but it's not a lingering aftertaste which is a huge plus. I don't think I would opt for it if I could walk twenty feet and get the real thing, but if I was stuck somewhere and needed a quick fix, this would absolutely do the trick. Starbucks claims they have been working on this for 20 years. For that amount of time you would think it would brew itself in a magical cup lined with a microfilm of sugar so when you mix it together the particles break free from the cup, giving you the perfect coffee every time. Maybe that will come in 45 years. Until then, there is Via!!
I also really liked VIA. I tried it with hot water, put my normal amount of milk and sugar and was in caffeinated heaven. I know a lot of people were upset with the price – $1 a pack, whereas regular instant coffee is only pennys a cup, however this is convenient for an on-the-go traveler like myself. Overall I give the Starbucks VIA two thumbs up!