Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Dump the Sanka, seize the Starbucks Via?

February 17, 2009

STARBUCKS/Now that Starbucks is in the instant coffee business, will you mix up a cup?

CEO Howard Schultz wants to introduce Americans to Via — the company’s own instant brew — and he promises it is better than that jarred stuff your parents drink. It’s so good, he says, that it will help the slumping company grab a share of the $17 billion global instant coffee market now dominated by brands like Sanka and Nescafe.

“This is 100 percent arabica Starbucks coffee, the same exact coffee that goes into the 50 million cups we sell every week,” Howard Schultz told Reuters in an interview.STARBUCKS/

“The reason why instant has such a bad name is that it doesn’t taste very good. It’s not fresh coffee, it’s usually chemically treated,” said Schultz, who added that Via replicates the taste of Starbucks brewed coffee.

Before the product even hit shelves, critics were opining on

BOSTON STARBUCKS REBEL said: “To the ‘instant-coffee consumer’ that is appears Howard is reaching out to, $1 a cup is way too expensive. To the ‘Starbuck’s Snobby Consumer’ instant coffee is a no-go. So who is going to buy this stuff? Roughly the same number of people who consistently buy freeze-dried entrees for their mountaineering adventures. The ‘Premium’ instant coffee market is anything but $17B.”

Will you seize the Via the next time you reach for a brew?



I am a barista at SBUX. Some people underestimate our desire for the best after all we were trained by the best! We want the best, expect the best, strive for the best.

Uncle Howie said something along the lines of “if it didn’t meet our standards, we wouldn’t put our name on it.” Very true. I tried the VIA a few days ago in a store meeting and I love it! I love the idea of it: I can carry a ‘cup of coffee’ in my purse, ready for me at any time! And the taste was great! a lot of people have been throwing it into the pile of all instant coffees. But don’t knock it ’til you try it.

Furthermore, the Instant Coffee is patented. No one else can replicate it and it’s different from everyone else’s. That should say something!

Give it a try! For the fun of it, I would recommend getting two cups of coffee at SBUX. Don’t let yourself know which one is Instant and which one is Brewed (mark the bottom of the cup so you can look afterwards) and I’ll bet you’ll be surprised and delighted! ;)

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