Starbucks VIA Instant Coffee is available in a bigger and more economical bulk format from the Starbucks Store online. Click here to learn about the Starbucks 50-Serving Colombia Ready Brew. At $34.95 for 50 servings, you pay 70 cents for a cup of coffee that is ready in as fast as it takes water to boil and according to Starbucks, with all the flavor of its in-store coffee that costs about twice this.
You may remember when the VIA instant coffee was first launched and I was challenged to tell the difference between that and their machine-brewed coffee. What gave it away for me was almost a complete lack of aroma in the instant coffee. And if you don’t remember, yes, I killed that challenge without guessing.
When Starbucks announced the launch of an instant coffee, it was a shock to the specialty coffee market that Starbucks had a large hand in awakening. After all, instant coffee gained popularity in the 40s and 50s in response to rising coffee prices and the overwhelming resistance of North American consumers to pay anymore for coffee than the nickle they were paying.
Instant coffee was cheaper to make than to sell ground coffee and it grew in popularity as people couldn’t give up the drink but weren’t going to pay any more for it. It was also a popular format in wartime since soldiers needed only to boil water and dissolve the coffee crystals for the cuppa they needed. But the bottom line is that the quality of coffee was terrible!
As more quality has been demanded even of canned ground coffee, and as specialty coffee and the quality associated with it has grown in popularity, instant coffee has never been so obsolete. Grocery stores carry less of it than ever, so it was a big surprise that the company that led the specialty coffee charge would be the one to make instant coffee popular again.
My take? To me, instant coffee is the same as the percolator, great for camping (or wartime, I suppose)! By that, I mean it’s so convenient when I’m somewhere I can’t take my coffee bar with me. I wouldn’t buy the best instant coffee in the world to make myself at home because I have time to brew a coffee the right away, either with my drip-brewer or french press. But I will say that for convenience when that’s not possible, Starbucks has definitely created not only the most drinkable instant coffee I’ve ever had, but I’ll admit a surprisingly nice coffee all around.