A Perfectly Lovely Day, Ruined by Starbuck’s Via


During my Saturday errands, I had the opportunity to stop in my local Starbuck’s coffee shop. Stop in, mind you, not drive through. My visit coincided with Starbuck’s launch of their new instant coffee, Via®. I bypassed the taste test table and made straight for the counter.

I placed my order for a four-shot cappuccino. When counter-girl asked if I needed a receipt, I told her, “It is unnecessary for this transaction to included paperwork.” (I’m a big fan of Foamy the Squirrel). True to her training which I’m sure consisted of a 30-minute video complete with a speech from a Starbuck’s VP, counter-girl asked if I had taken the Via® taste challenge. I politely told her that I have never found an instant coffee that tastes good. Her corporate-programmed response was, “Everyone says they can’t taste the difference.”

I’m not a coffee snob. I can’t tell a Kenyan from a Colombian, except I know one of them is in the White House. I even drink the weak, cheep Maxwell HouseTM filter-pack brewed stuff provided at work. I only bought a bean grinder this, my 45th year, on the planet. My primary prerequisite for coffee is dark, strong, and hot. If there is sugar nearby, so much the better. That’s the extent of my coffee expertise, but I have never had instant coffee that tastes anything close to coffee.

I reiterated this fact to counter-girl, but the training video was stronger than the brewing espresso. She suggested that while I wait, I take the taste test. And since Starbuck’s grinds their beans under the cloven hoof of Beelzebub while you wait, I had a few minutes to kill.

Taste-test girl asked me if I’d like to take the test hot or cold. I told her, “Hot, but I’ve never tasted instant coffee that was any good.”

She replied, “Oh, everyone says they can’t taste the difference.” Now where have I heard that before?

She poured a paper shot-glass of a dark, black liquid. It was good…nectar of the god’s good. She poured another shot-glass from a different carafe and handed it to me. Being the expressive person I am, my face contorted and my body spasmed with the first sip. I was overtaken by the spirit of Shakespeare, clutched my throat, and cried, “I am poison-ed!”

Truly crestfallen, taste-test girl’s now long face asked, “You can taste the difference?”

“Dear God, yes! Number one was rich, delicious coffee. B was some sort of powdered gym sock extract suspended in hot water.”

I believe the looks I got from the Starbuck’s corporate drones were the official “banished to the drive-thru” stare. I was issued an ankle bracelet that automatically locks the doors of any Starbuck’s thus prohibiting my entry into any of their fine world-wide establishments.

If you find yourself in possession of Starbuck’s Via® instant vileness, dispose of it as you would nuclear waste. You mustn’t let even one granule of this chromosome-damaging powder escape into the eco-system. And if you find yourself locked out of Starbuck’s, simply ask me to back away 50 feet.

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7 Comments

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  1. Randy,
    What a great review of a terrible product! Who were they thinking of when they developed Via? Surely no sane person would pay for freeze dried coffee from Starbucks! Stick to the real McCoy – coffee made like coffee. I enjoyed your post. Thanks for making my homemade coffee taste better by making me laugh.
    ~Cindy

  2. Heh, I nearly had coffee spurting all over on reading this one.

  3. I don’t drink coffee at all – but fake coffee just sounds gross. You should go into business writing product reviews.

  4. Why on earth would anyone who specialized in coffee develop an instant variety? As always, your personal spin makes an informative post downright fun.

  5. I tried the VIA or whatever it was today – it’s bitter. They were pushing it as being able to be used in other things besides brewed coffee, like mixing in with ice cream, cooking, etc. So I’m thinking it’s not getting a great reception and they are having to find other ways to promote it as being good.

  6. I hadn’t read your blog in a while, I’m ashamed to say. But, I had to compliment you on this one! I almost fell out of the chair laughing!

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