Friday, October 23, 2009
the quest for perfect trail coffee
After our Java Juice review, Reader Cristy recommended we try the new Starbucks Via (which, coincidentally, came out the same day as the Blech review).
I have to say, it's pretty awesome stuff. I took the in-store taste-test, and could only distinguish it from the in-store "regular" brew (Pike Place) by looking closely at it and figuring instant coffee would look less...smooth (as it's coming from powder)(I was right). I tried the Colombia variety, though there is also a darker Italian Roast variety available.
I thought I'd perform my own home step-by-step comparison to a store brand of Instant Coffee singles (in this case, Kroger) as that is something that would likely end up in our packs for a backpacking trip. You can see the initial packaging side by side at the top of this post.
There are immediately advantages for the Via. I have been carrying that 3-pack around in my purse for weeks now, and have barely noticed it. The post-consumer package waste is also minimized as you are only left with the small "tube" as opposed to the exterior gold plastic wrap in addition to the tea bag-style remnant.
Then there's the taste. As you can see, the color is strikingly different.
I brewed each cup for the recommended amount of time, so I was not "shortchanging" the Kroger coffee. I didn't even have to taste them to know how they'd differ in my mouth, but WOW the difference. If you happen to like the brewed taste of Starbucks coffee, you'll LOVE Via. It's rich, flavourful, and does NOT taste like any other instant coffee I've had. That's even before creamer. Denise had to try it cold last weekend, and gave it a thumbs up as well.
The disadvantage for the Via is that each of those precious tubes is $1 (it's about $3 for the 3-pack), vs. significantly less for the Kroger baggie. And, the "medium" is really pretty dark, so I'd almost hate to see the Italian Roast.
Still, I have to hand it to Starbucks. The Via is definitely a WIN.