No Slivers Here

March 3, 2009

Starbucks Via Instant Coffee

Filed under: Breakfast, Drinks — bettylou79 @ 2:43 pm

I’d like to introduce a guest blogger, my husband, Nate The Great.  I asked him to review some coffee that Starbucks so graciously sent to me in the mail.  I consider my husband to be a coffee conesiour so I figured it was only fitting.  He was a a barista at a coffee stand in college so I thought that also would count for something.  Did I mention that they guy loves coffee?  If you enjoy his writing style then I strongly suggest you head on over to his website/blog.  Enjoy! And now the star of our show, my husband!

Hello, Foodites,

This here’s a guest blog from Becky’s husband.  See, Becky doesn’t drink caffeinated coffee, so I was the guinea pig for this particular experiment.  I’ve never done a food review, so you may have to bear with my unorthodox style.

The subject is the new instant coffee, Via,  from our friendly mega-corporation, Starbucks.  I approached the experience with skepticism because I personally hate Starbucks drip coffee.  Their lattes and mochas are top notch and rarely disappoint, but their drip sludge actually ranks below Denny’s coffee on my scale.  I imagine there are folks out there (perhaps the sort who enjoy chewing roots fresh from the ground) who enjoy it, but there simply isn’t enough cream and sugar in the world to make it enjoyable.  Endurable, yes, but not enjoyable.

First, the packaging:

It's like a really big gift card envelope!

It's like a really big gift card envelope!

The coffee itself is inside two slim little sleeves that remind me of fancy restaurant mints.  One end is perforated for maximum ease of releasing the contents into your mug.  I should also note that the two samples sent to me were labeled thusly:  one Italian Roast, one Columbian.  Both had Xs in the boxes proclaiming them to be Extra Bold, Coffee, and Anywhere.

I could make a quantum physics joke here, but I won’t.

The Extra Bold marker should have been my first warning because that usually translates as Extra Bitter, and I like my coffee the way I like my women: light and sweet.  The second warning is that each pouch is prescribed to make one 8 ounce cup.  Who drinks coffee in 8 ounce servings?  Old women and little kids, that’s who.  Coffee drinkers use huge mugs with thick handles.  It’s part of the lifestyle.

But this is all for the sake of giving Via a fair shake, so I measured out 8 oz. of hot water and poured the Via in.  What happened was my own fault, and I won’t blame anyone else for it.  The steam from the water coagulated the instant coffee as it was coming out of the packet and clogged the opening.  So it became a process of squeezing the powder out like toothpaste, wiping the mouth of the package, and rubbing my fingers together over the mug to get as much into the water as I could.  Yes, I’d washed my hands, so stop making that face.

A note about the coffee:  I’m not sure what you’re used to, but instant coffee for me has always consisted of crystals.  This was not crystals.  Or if it was, it was so finely ground that it looked more like coffee dust.

It mixed evenly and quickly, and my coffee was ready to drink before I finished stirring.  Then, against my mind’s earlier warning, I took a sip of the stuff raw and black.  While my body was convulsing, my mind was calculating, and I have to admit (from a logical and objective standpoint) that it wasn’t bad.  It was definitely bold and strong enough to regrow some of my head hair, but it wasn’t bad.

So I added creamer and drank away.  Because of dwindling personal supplies, I wasn’t able to add enough creamer to make it what I normally consider enjoyable, but it was good enough to drink, and…

…wait for it…

…it was better than Starbucks’ own drip coffee.  That’s right.  With the advent of the Via instant coffee line, they might just be able to mothball those 10-gallon percollaters and just stick to coffee that tastes good.

Now my wife wants me to wrap this up by saying whether or not I’d buy the stuff for real.  There are two roadblocks to the answer for that question.

One:  There will be three packets of Via per envelope for sale, so will I get to pick which kinds of coffee I’m buying?  Or will I get to recapture the retail roulette of my childhood and pretend that I’m buying Magic cards again, uncertain of what cards will be in my foil booster pack?

Two:  Price.  According to the Starbucks store, they’ll be charging about ten bucks for 12 servings.  Roughly the same amount of money at Safeway would get you 16 ounces of Dunkin’ Donuts coffee of the non-instant variety, so it’s really a matter of convenience.

I’d buy it for real, but I don’t see myself becoming an instant coffee acolyte for the simple reason that I’m a purist.  I enjoy the ritual of grinding my coffee, and steeping it in my french press, much the same way that an outdoorsman enjoys hewing their clothing from the skins of animals.

So that’s it.  My thumb is up and hat is off to the developers of Via.

Oh, but there’s one last thing.  Ten minutes after downing the second cup (Italian Roast), my wife could smell it on me from a distance of four feet.  I had to brush my teeth before she’d let me get any closer than that.  So.  Y’know.  Drink responsibly.



  1. Yikes for coffee breath! I can’t wait to get my sample in the mail.

    Comment by tiff — March 3, 2009 @ 10:00 pm

  2. Great review. I appreciate you being up front about your coffee tastes/biases. Also, I loved the humor. Thanks for the free laughs.

    Comment by King Sheep — July 2, 2012 @ 7:06 am

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