Starbucks instant coffee is now available any time you want. So we decided to give you some insights on this magnificent brand by way of this Starbucks VIA review.
History of Starbucks
Three promising entrepreneurs; writer Gordon Bowker, English teacher Jerry Baldwin, and history teacher Zev Siegl started Starbucks in Seattle, Washington, in 1971. They met while they were studying at the University of San Francisco (1).
Alfred Peet, a businessman who specializes in roasting coffee taught them his technique of roasting coffee beans. The three friends and business partners were inspired to sell high-grade coffee beans and brewing equipment after they learned how to brew coffee beans from Peet.
On March 31, 1971, the first Starbucks opened in 2000 Western Avenue, Seattle, Washington, USA. In 1976, the store was moved to 1912 Pike Place, also in Seattle, which is its location up to this day.
On the first years of Starbucks, the café only sold roasted whole coffee beans and don’t yet brew coffee to sell. They only brewed coffee as free samples at that time.
The company buys green coffee beans from Peet during the store’s first year but later on decided to purchase the cherries directly from the growers.
In 1982, Howard Schultz becomes the company’s director of retail operations and marketing. The firm began to provide coffee to several espresso bars and restaurants (2). In 1983, Schultz traveled to Italy and was impressed by the popularity of espresso bars in Milan which gave him the idea of developing a similar coffee shop in Seattle.
In1984, Starbucks’ Caffe Latte was introduced and was first served in its café in Seattle. The successful experiment gave way for Shultz to establish Il Giornale which soon acquired Starbucks’s assets in 1987 and renamed the company Starbucks Corporation.
That year also saw the opening of branches in Chicago and Vancouver, Canada.
In 1993, the company opened its first roasting plant in Kent, WA and by 1996; Starbucks opened its stores in Japan and Singapore (the first stores outside North America). By this time, Starbucks had more than 1,000 stores across the US and Canada.
In 2009, Starbucks launched the Starbucks VIA Instant and opened the Farmer Support Center in Kigali, Rwanda, just one of the company’s several similar centers aiding coffee farmers. By this time, the company had 16,635 stores across the globe.
By 2015, Starbucks had 22, 519 stores worldwide and more than dozens of coffee flavors on its menu (such as the Frappuccinno Blended Beverage, Starbucks Blonde Roast, Starbucks VIA instant iced coffee, Starbucks Ready Brew Colombia, Starbucks VIA Instant Italian Roast –Dark, VIA Ready Brew Coffee, Colombia, VIA Pike Place Instant Coffee, VIA Instant Vanilla Latte, Evolution Fresh, and Starbucks Instant Vanilla Latte, among other brews and blends).
Currently, Starbucks sourced its 100% Arabica coffee beans from the top 3% of the world’s growers.
Where did the name “Starbucks” come from?
In brainstorming about the name of their new business, the 3 coffee geniuses once considered the “Cargo House” and “Pequod” words as a possible brand name. These names were associated with a book titled “Moby-Dick” (1).
But Bowker wants a name that starts with the letters “st” because he recalls Terry Heckler saying that words starting with these letters connote power.
Heckler was Bowker’s partner in an advertising agency. While the group is thinking about a name, someone showed an old map of the Cascade Range which mentions a mining town named “Starbo”.
In a few seconds, Bowker remembers the name of the chief mate in the book, which was “Starbuck”. On that day, the name “Starbucks” was born.
What is Starbucks VIA coffee?
On February 17, 2009, Starbucks announces the company’s latest innovation in coffee brewing (3): the Starbucks VIA. This coffee brew is a great leap from the company’s traditional coffee offerings which you can only get from their stores.
The Starbucks VIA variety is an instant coffee that comes in single-serve packets which you can buy in their stores, select supermarkets, groceries, convenience stores or online (especially through Amazon.com). This aromatic coffee lets you have a cup even if you don’t want to go to a Starbucks café.
The “VIA” refers to the Italian word meaning “road” (4). This is to reiterate that you can still enjoy Starbucks coffee wherever you may be.
Moreover, the brew comes in both caffeinated and decaffeinated (decaf). The VIA comes in 3 different roasts: the Blonde, Medium, and Dark Roasts.
The Starbucks VIA instant coffee also comes in K-cup pods (also known as coffee capsules) compatible with Keurig Coffee Makers.
How Starbucks VIA is made
Starbucks uses a proprietary technique (patent-pending) in producing its instant coffee like the VIA brand. But they used mostly 100% pure Arabica coffee beans ethically-sourced from the most respectable coffee growers in the world.
Moreover, many coffee aficionados considered VIA as Starbucks’ “high-tech” coffee of the 21st century.
According to Michael V. Copeland of Fortune.com (5), and quoting Andrew Linnemann, Starbucks’ green coffee quality and operations, who said that “VIA is a combination of dried coffee and micro-ground coffee.”
Linnemann also added that “Starbucks takes its beans and makes a liquid coffee extract, which gets reduced to dried form. But whereas your typical instant coffee maker is focused on yield and output, the Starbucks gang focused on taste”.
“We use the same equipment as the other guys, but how we use the equipment is much different”, Linnemann further said. From this statement, it is apparent that Starbucks has a lower extraction for the same amount of beans compared to other brands.
The lower extraction results in more flavor and aroma which may explain why Starbucks instant coffee is more expensive than other coffee brands.
The Starbucks VIA has 7 different varieties which are unsweetened. The brand also has 3 blends which contain cane sugar. Here are some of the leading blends most preferred in America.
Starbucks VIA Instant Italian Roast – Dark
The Italian roast is dark-roasted with a rich, deep flavor, and with a sweet taste of caramelized sugar. The product comes in a box containing 50 packets.
Each packet is individually-wrapped (single-serving) which seals the flavor and aroma. You only need hot water to enjoy a flavorful taste of Starbucks right at the comfort of your home.
Starbucks VIA Ready Brew Coffee, Colombia
This VIA variety is made from 100% Colombian Arabica coffee beans harvested from the country’s mountainous regions. The brew has Starbucks signature walnut flavor so you have balanced and nutty taste in a single brew.
The coffee beans used in this instant coffee are grown 6,500 feet above sea level in the mountainside terrain of Colombia. So it has the natural flavor everybody wants.
The blend comes in medium roast and also perfect for your morning bread.
Starbucks VIA Veranda Blend
This brew gets its beans from Latin America where most coffee farms are run by families. Starbucks says that they sipped coffee with these farmers for decades right at the comfort of the family’s veranda, hence the name.
This coffee is lightly roasted (blonde) which is mellow and soft. Starbucks says they made more than 80 tries to perfect this brew.
Starbucks VIA Pike Place Instant CoffeeIf you want a smooth and balanced taste, try this Starbucks coffee brew. The Pike Place Roast is one of the firm’s favorite roasts since 1971.
It comes in medium-roast.
This blend of Latin American coffees has rich chocolaty notes and toasted nuts. Named after the stores’ first location in Seattle (Pike Place), the blend was recreated and improved by Starbucks’ master blenders and roasters in 2008.
Starbucks VIA Blonde Sunrise BlendIf you want instant coffee that is smooth and with notes of chocolate, the VIA Blonde Sunrise is quite interesting. It is 100% Arabica coffee that is ground for your easy use.
This brew also has an approachable taste and a smooth creamy body. Considered as a Latin American blend; the Blonde is not bland! The instant coffee comes in a limited edition pack of 12 oz (340 grams) weight.
Starbucks VIA Instant Vanilla Latte
The VIA Vanilla Latte is made from pure Arabica coffee beans roasted lightly. The blend is one of Starbucks’ specialty coffees mixed with a generous amount of vanilla and dairy to give you the twist that you are looking for.
This sweet-tasting brew is a hit among teenagers who want a not-so-strong dose of coffee. The blend comes in a box with 5 single-serve packets.
It is so convenient to use, just tear open a packet, pour hot water, and stir. You don’t need a coffee maker just to make a cup.
Starbucks VIA Iced Instant CoffeeIf you crave for an instant coffee which is naturally sweetened (only lightly) with cane sugar, the VIA Iced Coffee is a perfect choice. The blend is medium roast and uses 100% micro-ground Arabica coffee beans.
The blend is designed to be mixed with cold water and comes in single-serve packets. This instant coffee is perfect for those who are frequently traveling.
How much caffeine does VIA contain?
Starbucks VIA is Starbucks equivalent of instant coffee. The coffee beans used in VIA are not freeze-dried but rather finely ground.
According to Starbucks customer service, Starbucks VIA contains about 130 to 140 milligram (mg) of caffeine (6). Furthermore, the VIA Ice comes 2 servings in a sachet which will give double the dose of caffeine (260 to 280 mg) in one seating.
But if you want to drink VIA Ice while you don’t want much caffeine, you have all the freedom not to pour all the content of the sachet and save it later.
Consequently, cheap instant coffees have an average caffeine content of 57mg (7) while more premium ones average 100mg per serving.
So, if you like stronger coffee to keep you more energized, Starbucks VIA blends may help. But we advise you to keep your caffeine intake as moderate as possible.
So, what’s the ideal dose for a Starbucks VIA per day?
Health professionals suggest that the most ideal amount that you should drink is up to 400 milligrams (mg) of caffeine every day (8). The amount is applicable for persons without problems in drinking coffee.
So if you like to make Starbucks VIA as your preferred coffee, 2 to 3 cups daily are just perfect.
Here are some other best things about Starbucks VIA instant coffee
- Comes in various flavors and blend
- Comes in different roasts (Blonde, Medium, Dark)
- 100% natural roasted coffee
- Coffee beans sourced from world’s top 3 suppliers
- No chemicals and preservatives
- Made from pure Arabica coffee beans
- A product of many years of innovations
- Extracted in a way less is drawn out
- Easy to use product
And what’s unfavorable about Starbucks VIA
- Quite expensive compared to other brands
- Some blends are only available during spring
- The packets come with too much plastic packaging
- More caffeine than most instant coffee brands
Do we need to say more?
We have more something to say!
Starbucks had been around for almost 48 years and the company is quite young compared to other coffee makers. But they offer something unique out of the old-fashioned coffee brew.
This Starbucks VIA review gives more insights about the brand. If the high caffeine content will haunt you, you can always limit yourself to the recommended daily servings.
After all, you can now have the chance to taste what others may say as the new breed of coffee in town. Even if the VIA instant coffee is more pricy than other brands, it is still more affordable compared to have your coffee in Starbucks physical stores.