You read it right, the world’s most famous purveyor of coffee now retails instant coffee products, and they have branded it Starbucks VIA Ready Brew. True to the form of instant coffee, VIA comes in pre-portioned sachets and to make coffee, you simply add hot water.
Yeah, I know what you’re thinking: Starbucks has sold out! They have taken all their coffee principles, fundamentals, ideals and thrown it all to the waste basket. It’s like Rolex making quartz watches! (Well, they actually do.)
We coffee lovers cringe at the mere thought of instant coffee. I’ve tried all instants at the grocery store and none of them were anywhere close to the taste of brewed. The marketing team at Starbucks swears that their VIA Ready Brew begs to differ. They’ve even conducted Taste Challenges in the US, just to prove that the VIA has “full Starbucks flavor in an instant.” I’m determined to find out for myself…
I was able to get samples of the Italian Roast and Columbia variants, having bold and medium intensity respectively. Each carton contains twelve stick shaped sachets. For this review, I sampled the Italian Roast. Before I even opened a sachet, I’d honestly say that I had set my expectations really low. My mindset was that it’s probably just the same as your garden variety Nescafe, if not just a tad better. I worked as a Starbucks Barista during my college years and with things coffee, I’m not easy to be impressed.
I dispensed the contents of one sachet into a clean mug. What I saw was a very dark brown and very fine, talcum like texture, as opposed to Nescafe’s lighter-colored and bigger granules. The sachet contained less than a teaspoon’s worth of powder, roughly half as much as what a Nescafe sachet would contain. I gave out a cynical chuckle. How’s this going to taste like a genuine brew? I poured a cup of hot water into the mug, added a sachet of Equal and gave it a good stir.
The first sip knocked my socks off! The concoction I just made tasted even stronger than brewed. I had to add a little more hot water and some milk to neutralize the coffee’s intensity. Unbelievable! This Starbucks instant coffee tastes just like it’s brewed equivalent. You can quote me on that. Take any coffee lover to a blind taste test of the VIA versus regular brewed and he/she will have a very difficult time.
Starbucks has done it again and has proven that you can indeed reinvent the wheel in the established world of coffee. This, my friends, is the future of coffee. The usage possibilities are endless! Going hiking to Pagudpud or hitting the beach in Palawan? Do your friends a favor and bring a pack of VIA. Your friends will thank you and worship you at the same time.
The only downside is, at the time of writing, I’m quite certain that it isn’t available in the Philippines yet. Don’t fret, I’m sure the folks at Rustan Coffee are already thinking of bringing it in. Can’t wait? Then e-mail your relatives in the U.S. and tell them to send a few packs over.