Friday, October 02, 2009

I Took The Challenge

During the last couple of days, you may have seen a Starbucks commercial on TV, which advertises the new Starbucks instant coffee called VIA. The commercial encourages people to come in and take the Starbucks VIA Taste Challenge.

I did exactly that today. I was handed a cup of Pike Place (Starbucks daily brew) and a cup of VIA Columbian (instant coffee). I was not told which cup was which. The challenge is to correctly guess which coffee is instant and which coffee was made today, just moments after being ground. After a moment of looking at the coffee, smelling it, and tasting it, I made my guess and I was correct. I was handed a coupon for a dollar off a pack of VIA coffee and a free tall, brewed coffee for my next visit. These coupons were given to each customer, whether they guessed correctly or not.

Starbucks’ idea of having a taste challenge is a good one. It brings people in, gets the new product out there, but I think there is a flaw in the test I took. Let me explain.

First of all, I knew which cup held the Pike Place when I looked down into the cup. Pike Place was the nearly transparent coffee of the two. Nevertheless, I smelled and tasted both cups, noticing right away that the VIA Columbian was darker, stronger, and more embodying of a fresh-brewed coffee than the Pike Place Roast.

My point being, is it necessarily a good thing that Starbucks has created an instant coffee that can easily rival and, perhaps, beat their everyday fresh roast in a taste challenge? If I were Starbucks, someone guessing that the Pike Place was the instant coffee, which happened several times while I was sitting in the store this morning, would insult me. It is a bit of a catch-22, the VIA does a fair job at hiding its instant-brewiness. That’s something the Bucks can be prideful about. However, it tastes better than the stuff you pay $2 for at your local Starbucks, which, I think, doesn’t bode well for the daily brew at the Bucks.

1 comment:

watchingprogress said...

excuse my pretensions, but...alterra????

i don't know of very many people who went to star bucks because of its quality coffee, but their quality hyper-sweetened espresso.

do you think that this 'via' can compete with any honest to goodness coffee roaster? i have my doubts.