I love coffee. Perhaps I love it too much, and I drink a lot more than I should.
This means, however, that I like having a lot of options. I usually have a couple of types of beans and/or grinds on hand to make with my trusty old coffee pot. I also have a Keurig coffee pot and a selection of K-Cups to make when I’m too lazy to go through the ritual of brewing a whole pot of coffee.
Adding the possibility of an instant brew coffee that actually tasted good would be nice. When I was out at a Starbucks two weeks ago, they tricked me into getting a sample of the new VIA Italian Roast Extra Bold Coffee, so I figured it was worth a try.
Great for Instant, But Not Great Coffee
Last weekend, I noticed the sample of VIA sitting on my kitchen table. Instead of making a cup of coffee with my Keurig coffee pot, I thought I’d try out the new Starbucks stuff. I popped open the pack, poured the ground up powder into an empty cup, and then used my Keurig pot to pour a perfectly measured, steaming hot cup of water. With a quick stir, the coffee was ready.
So… how was it?
Initially, I was impressed. I’ve tried instant coffee before. My parents don’t drink coffee, and that used to be their solution for when I came over. It was disgustingly terrible, and we got them an extra coffee pot to make the real stuff.
The Starbucks VIA Coffee was not disgusting. The color was dark and rich, like you’d expect from a normal cup of coffee. The aroma was a bit weak, but still pleasing. The initial taste is pleasant, like you’d expect from something billed as “Extra Bold.”
But, that’s where the positives seem to end. It’s lacking in body. It has a bit of a watery feel to it, something reminiscent of other instant brewed coffees I’ve tried in the past or of weakly brewed fresh coffee. There’s also a bit of an after-taste. I don’t know quite how to explain it – it’s not horrible, but it’s certainly not something you want to linger around.
The bottom line is that it’s great for instant coffee, but as far as real coffee goes, it’s kind of blah. Starbucks has advertised this stuff as being just as good as their fresh brewed coffee. I don’t know what kind of coffee they’ve been getting at their Starbucks, but all the Starbucks around me serve much better coffee. It also certainly pales in comparison to the coffee I brew fresh in my regular pot or in my Keurig single cup system.
[Note: I typically love extra bold coffee roasts. The problem is definitely not with the roast/blend of coffee itself.]
Would I Buy It?
Nope. If I didn’t have a Keurig single cup system, I might keep a few packs around at home for the convenience factor. However, mixing this is actually more work than brewing a single cup with my Keurig.
It’s also not cheap. I’ve seen it advertised for about $10/12 packs – or a little over 80 cents a cup. Since this makes a tiny cup (8 oz), you’re paying about the same price as you would for a real cup of coffee – be it from Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, or some other coffee chain. My Keurig K-Cups are much cheaper than that (~$0.50 each delivered) and make coffee that is far superior.
If you are not a coffee drinker and you want to have some instant coffee in the house, then may want to buy this. It’ll be a much bigger hit with your guests than the typical instant coffee blend.
Other than that, I wouldn’t buy Starbucks VIA Instant Brew coffee myself. Nor would I recommend that friends of mine buy it. There are plenty of other methods – a traditional coffee pot, a Keurig one cup system, or a regular old coffee shop – that will likely give you superior coffee, just as much convenience, and the same value.