First and foremost, thanks to everyone who took part in my very first taste test! This has been an exciting process, getting to share my coffee addiction with the Blogosphere :). For all of those who tried the two flavors of the new Starbucks instant coffee--whether you got the VIA™ packets as part of an AustenFest prize, were handed a couple of them by me in person during the RWA conference or here in Chicago or signed up for the taste test on my blog--ALL of you are welcome to share your thoughts.
And, as promised, there will be names drawn for prizes, too! Anyone who has tried the coffee and leaves a comment below is eligible...whether you loved it, hated it, thought it was okay but wished it were mixed with something stronger, etc. What are the prizes, you ask?
4 randomly selected commenters will each win: a Crazy for Chocolate step-by-step recipe book, an advanced reading copy of According to Jane and their choice of either a 3-pack of VIA™ Ready Brew (Colombia or Italian Roast--whichever they'd prefer) OR (if they weren't wild about the coffee) a 1.5 oz. packet of Berres Brothers Coffee Roasters, ground for use in an 8-10 cup coffee maker.
1 creative commenter (who shares a recipe he/she tried with the coffee) will win: a Crazy for Chocolate step-by-step recipe book, an advanced reading copy of According to Jane and a $10 Starbucks giftcard, which can be used toward any store or online purchase.
Because it's a taste test, the most important question is this one: Did you like it? How did it hold up against other instant coffees you've tried? Against the prepared coffee you've gotten at Starbucks? I'd love to know if you sampled it hot or cold or both. Did you prefer it one way over another? Which flavor did you like better--the Colombia or the Italian Roast? (I'll admit to a preference for the Colombia.) Were there any flavorings or toppings you added that made it especially tasty? (I've got a few of those...) Did you try it at home, at work or on the go? Would you buy it if you came across it in a store or would you rather just zip over to a Starbucks and grab a beverage made to order??
Okay, since I started this, I'll go first: I DO like the taste, and I enjoyed both flavors. The Colombia is a little nuttier and not as intense as the Italian Roast, IMO, so, if pressed for a favorite, that's mine. I really liked the convenience of the little packets, too. Being that I don't want to leave the house until absolutely necessary in the morning, I appreciated having the instant packets handy. Plus, I was traveling for half of July, so it was really convenient to just open a VIA™ packet, pour in some hot water and some sugar and stir. Seriously simple.
For me, this worked well when I was making the coffee hot. Clearly, though, I am not barista material AT ALL, because I made a total mess of it when I tried to prepare the coffee cold. I love iced coffee, but it would take someone far more skilled than I am (some kind of Coffee MacGyver, perhaps :-) to be able to fix it successfully on the road with little more than a cup and a handful of ice cubes. Or, in my case, even doing it at home didn't work so well. I'll stick to having my VIA™ hot, thank you. And I'll drive to Starbucks when I want an icy beverage.
As for flavorings, well, some people can drink their coffee without added sugar. I'm rather impressed by them and their taste buds of steel, but I'm in no way prepared to do the same. This was my favorite VIA™ variation:
1 packet of the Colombia VIA™ coffee
1/2 packet of hot cocoa mix (like Swiss Miss or Nestle)
4 oz. water
4 oz. skim milk
Pour the water and the milk into a mug, microwave for 1.5-2.0 minutes, add the coffee and the cocoa mix. Stir well. Top with a couple swirls of whipped cream, if desired. (For me, that's always desired. :) Enjoy!
I was pretty pleased with myself for creating this concoction. If you like mochas, it's GOOD. Then I saw the recipe for the "Mocha Malted Milkshake" that Starbucks came up with...OMG! So, check this out:
1 packet Starbucks VIA™ Ready Brew
1/2 cup (4 fl.oz./118 ml) cold milk
1 cup (132 g) chocolate ice cream
2 Tbsp (30 g) malted milk powder
Place all ingredients in a blender. Blend and serve.
*Note: to make a Caramel Macchiato Milkshake, substitute vanilla ice cream for chocolate and add caramel sauce instead of malted milk powder.*
Starbucks has a link with this and other VIA™ recipes featured. Take a look here for more :).
Okay, now your turn! What worked for you? What didn't? All opinions are welcome! And, because this is the very first time I've used the "poll" gadget on my blog, please take a sec and answer my one question (look in the upper right column). I'll post the final results when I announce the contest winners on the 27th!