Starbucks Via: So 20th century!


I will admit it.  I’m an instant coffee drinker.  I know I’m not the only one in America, but I’m one of the few who will admit to it.  I drink instant coffee because it’s easy to make, but also because I like my coffee fairly mild.  I do have a strong preference for Taster’s Choice and Nescafé – so I do have some standards of sorts, but clearly they are not very high.

I first heard of Starbucks VIA last May when I won a raffle for a Starbucks gift card and the card came with a 3 individual samples of French Roast instant coffee.  I tried them and they were great.  The coffee has a rich flavor, stronger and more developed than any instant coffee I drink, but without the bitterness of the real thing.  As far as instant coffees go, it’s by far my favorite.

But… it’s expensive.  Ridiculously expensive, about 83-cents per cup, though if you buy it bulk you can get it down to 60-cents a cup.   A cup of Taster’s Choice costs less than 10-cents by comparison.  So needless to say, I haven’t been buying it.

Soon after I received my sample pack, I saw VIA at Safeway, and not too long after that, at Grocery Outlet.  But even at Grocery Outlet it was too expensive, though I don’t remember exactly what the price was.  Today I noticed that the 3-cup packages are down to 99-cents (though they expired in June).  33-cents a cup is not too bad, so I bought a few packages to have it as the occasional treat.  Lately, I’m drinking tea anyway.

The biggest problem with VIA, besides the price, is all the needless packaging.  I guess they need it to make you think you are getting more from your money than you really are.  It’s unlikely that anyone seeing a $40 7-oz jar of VIA placed next to a $10 jar of Taster Choice would reach towards the former.  But all of this means a lot of wasted materials which come at a significant environmental cost.

I’m sure that Starbucks did a lot of market research before introducing this product, but I just don’t see who it would appeal to.


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