Background: I don’t describe myself as a coffee connoisseur like some of my friends, but I do love the aroma and taste of freshly made espresso with (or without) milk, frothed (or not). I also like brewed coffee. I’m not highly particular about the beans I buy (I usually get them from Starbucks) but when I do get the chance, I try to always buy fresh from a local supplier whom I know has only recently roasted the beans. Coffee is the anti-thesis of wine where the latter demands aging. And coffee, despite being in its bean form should not be allowed to stay for long periods of time. This is the same reason why I choose to grind my own beans with a burr grinder. I grind on demand. In fact I wish we had a local service that, in the same way we used to have milk delivered to our doors in the 80’s, they should deliver 50-100 grams of freshly roasted coffee beans per week.
Yesterday, Starbucks PH launched their new instant coffee product line. Starting today, they will be doing taste test challenges in all their stores to see if customers can determine whether they’re drinking brewed or instant. I took the test: Got it right the first time. The kick of brewed coffee is the real giveaway as VIA tasted a bit flat. Again, I’m not a connoisseur, but if I wasn’t aware that I’m being served VIA, my taste buds probably would not have raised a flag. I’d probably think that the barista who brewed it added a little bit more water. Note: instant coffee is much closer to “coffee flavored drink” than it is to real coffee.
Here are my findings:
It’s no secret that Starbucks is struggling in the USA. This is perhaps why they launched a new product line to cater to a “new” demographic. VIA is for those people who can’t afford to take a break from their grueling 9-5 and enjoy the luxury of taking the elevator downstairs to their nearest Starbucks chain. It is also for travelers. Although I travel a lot, I have this. So it’s not for me.
To be fair, VIA is the… “most interesting” (HAHA I’m being politically correct!) instant coffee I have tried as it approximates brewed coffee. So you can take this on many levels. Real coffee drinkers would not be caught dead drinking this. I’d drink it if it was served and that’s that. But if I had a choice, well.
Is it good coffee? No. Is it good instant coffee? Yes.
I think the main predicament is that Starbucks has gone against their coffee culture producing an “evil” product — exactly that thing that ires real coffee drinkers. They’ve been here since the late 90’s and it is because of them that we now have elevated the status of coffee into a more social art. By releasing this product, they may have trouble brewing in the form of coffee lovers who have taken a liking to Starbucks.
VIA comes in packs of 3 (PHP 130.00) and 12 (PHP 450.00). The decaf 12-pack costs PHP 470.00.