Via? vaya!

August 13, 2010

You’ve got to hand it to Starbucks.

The company’s built annual revenues from around $90 million in 1992 to $10 BILLION today.

And they’ve done it by creating a mystique and a social habit around something common and usually low margin: coffee.

The coffee is ubiquitous. And so are Starbucks coffee houses. They have become our “third places” — not home, not office, but a third place we hang out, meet friends and have meetings.

No question: Starbucks does some shrewd marketing and makes profitable product decisions.

They’re at it again, with their “instant coffee,” called Via.

Have you ever tasted Via?

If you’re old enough to remember Tasters Choice instant coffee, your first sip of Via will bring back memories.

And not good ones, either.

I’m shocked to learn that the instant coffee business is worth $21 million a year. Margins are probably high, too.

The first time I tasted Via, I hated it, just as I hated instant coffee immediately. Via is a thin, vile-tasting brew. I have no idea who would buy this stuff. Certainly no one with discriminating coffee tastes.

Last year Starbucks was pushing Via really hard in its introductory phase, citing the convenience.

When I want a quick cup of coffee, I take a plastic filter cone, insert a filter and the ground coffee of my choice, boil water and make myself a cup of drip. Which takes only seconds more than stirring soluble coffee powder into hot water. Convenient.

Or I stop in one of the gazillion coffee shops I pass any time I go anywhere in my car.

When I mentioned to the barista that I thought Via was awful, she suggested that, like other coffee drinkers, I might try using it to give my regular drip coffee a boost.

That’s right. Add instant coffee to my drip coffee.

Like I said, you’ve got to hand it to Starbucks, and I do.

But as far as I’m concerned, Via can vaya.

4 comments on “Via? vaya!
  1. Anonymous says:

    HAHAHAHA you go girl! I love VIA to VAYA…very witty.

    Yeah I pay 2 dollars for some water and beans and that is just the black coffee of the day. WHY IN THE WORLD WOULD YOU WANT ME TO MAKE MY OWN INSTANT COFFEE that tastes like crap? Oh my…I am getting old.

  2. Hehe. I find Via vile. I also find most Starbucks brews are not that good. A true Italian coffee house, such as Brazza or Artigiano or Crema knows the art and science of coffee trough and through. Nothing comparea. Having said that, Starbucks is so ubiquitous (I understand Vancouver is the most densely populated “Starbucks City”, outdoing even Seattle) that I’m in there handing it over far too often. Their “unsweetened” GTL contains a few teaspoons of sugar in with the mix. That’s so deceptive and bugs me but it tastes sooooo good! Love this post 🙂

  3. I’ve never tried it but at almost 6.00 for 5 cups of coffee…I can buy a whole can of MaxHouse for around 5.00 – and when am I so far away from a coffee shop yet have access to boiling water?

  4. I know, it really is amazing they get people to pay a premium for this crap.

    Actually, Starbucks ground coffee tastes burned to me. I prefer Peets and really prefer Los Gatos Roasting. However, I can get ‘bucks for about 5.99 a bag at Walmart compared to 10.99 or more for LG Roasting so I do end up buying it ground…I don’t like milder coffees so…stuck…. glad to see so many agree tnough. I always wonder who buys that Via

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