Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

The war over an instant


Via and NescafeThere’s a point in every Star Wars film when the good guy inevitably turns to his buddies and says, “I’ve got a bad feeling about this,” right before all the big explosions begin.

One can only imagine that is what Nescafe was thinking when they saw Starbucks’ VIA instant coffee mix arrive in Chicago, Seattle and London.  After all, Nescafe is nearly synonymous with instant coffee.

So, what is Starbucks thinking?

While the United States is mostly a brewing country, 80 percent of people in the United Kingdom who drink coffee use instant.  The numbers are even more dramatic the further east you go.  So, it stands to reason that with Starbucks seeing fewer customers thanks to a deepening recession, some innovation is in order.  VIA was in development for the past 16 years and Starbucks felt now was the time to unleash the beast.

“We wanted it to be perfect and to mirror the perfectly brewed coffee experience at a Starbucks,” said company spokeswoman Lara Wyss.