Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Great Starbucks VIA™ Ready Brew Taste Test: The Results

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:
"Marilyn's Mocha"
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!


Lucy said...

I tried both packets hot, and with Splenda only. I usually add creamer or milk to my coffee, but the first one I tried (Italian Roast) tasted really good when I tried it with alone and with just one packet of Splenda. It was strong, but a smooth, deep rich flavor.

I though I would like the Columbia flavor more, because it said it was a medium roast, but I actually found it to be somewhat more bitter than the Italian Roast, even after adding two packets of Splenda. The taste was sharper, but not quite the deep coffee taste I love, if that makes any sense. Maybe I should have added milk or creamer to that one.

I thought there was a tiny bit of grittiness in the coffee but it was minimal enough to ignore, and the convenience of just heating up water and tossing in a pack was AWESOME. I would definitely buy the Italian Roast for my daily morning coffee, but if I were going for a mixed/flavored coffee drink, I'd hightail it over to Starbucks. They're just better at that--and I only drink the fancy drinks as a treat anyway. :)

I would love it if they came out with more flavors, though. I think I would rank this over any other instant coffee I've had, though not necessarily over some premium roasts prepared with a coffee maker (Godiva, you've spoiled me). But the single serving packet can't be beat for ease of use, which, some mornings, definitely outweighs brewing and waiting for coffee to be ready. It's the type of thing I'd always keep on hand, even if I had different non-instant coffee at home, too.

Whew, that was long! Thanks, Marilyn, so much for giving us a chance to try this along with you!

Pamela Cayne said...

In the lovely, age-old tradition of having a cuppa and reading a good book, I was wondering what books went well with each the Columbia and the Italian Roast?

I do think these would make great stocking stuffers, so I'm really curious to what everybody thinks!

Jasmine Haynes said...

Thanks for the opportunity to try Via, Marilyn! For instant coffee, wow! Much better than the jars you buy at the grocery store. I tried both flavors hot. As you mentioned, the Columbian was nuttier and not quite as strong, but my tastebuds are the exact oppposite of yours as I preferred the Italian Roast. I flavored both with vanilla creamer, and honestly, both were as good as making a pot of coffee.

Would I buy more? I'm a mocha girl, and I have my own machine at home. I'm addicted to having it in the morning and thankfully I live with my very own magical barista (DH) and wake to the scent and taste of a fresh mocha. We just use two cups milk heated in the microwave, 1 hot chocolate packet, and 3 scoops of coffee from Costco which I grind myself. Steam, and there it is! So, I have to say I'll probably stick to that rather than the instant VIA.

Thanks, it was loads of fun being part of the taste test!
Jasmine Haynes

Marilyn Brant said...

Lucy~It was great to have people try the coffee along with me, so thank YOU! I really enjoyed hearing about your experience with it :).

Pamela~I'll give it a shot (but will hope others share their thoughts, too). For the Colombia: Anything by Nora Ephron and Jennifer Crusie. For the Italian Roast (because it's more dramatic): Sue Miller, Sue Monk Kidd and Anne Tyler. How's that?!

Jasmine~I LOVE your mocha recipe and am envious of your having a personal barista at home!! So glad you had fun with the taste test--it was a pleasure having you take part!

Sharpei4Kris said...

I tried both with vanilla flavor and milk, how I make my coffee everyday. While I preferred the italian roast, I liked both. They would be great for travel as the coffee in hotels, just isn't as nice as VIA. It also was much better than office coffee. Thank you so much for the opportunity to try them.

Dorothy said...

I decided to mix my Columbia in a Starbucks coffee container I have, yes I am an addict big time. Then I shook it up, top closed of course and added my splenda and cream. Worked great! I had a fresh cup of coffee that stayed hot longer since it was in the insulated container.
Best time for me, 9pm when I want to stay up and write a couple more hours.

Tiffany said...

I tried the Columbian by itself -- then with Splenda. I was quite surprised that I did not need to add creamer to it. There was a slight bitter taste to it, but I did not mind.

I brewed made a cup of the Italian roast, and since I liked the taste if it by itself, I decided to get a bit adventurous with it.

I make protein shakes in the morning, and decided that I was going to use my cup of coffee to make an iced mocha protein shake. I let the coffee cool down, added ice, added chocolate protein shake mix, and a little bit of hazelnut coffee flavor. Delicious and voila -- A highly caffeinated breakfast shake!

I will have to try this again sometime!

Jill said...

For books to read while drinking coffee I recommend J.D. Robb. Thanks to Roarke Eve has the real stuff in the autochef in her office.

I did a simple taste test, no experimenting. Although I would have liked to try these coffees cold. And I always drink decaf.

I mixed each with 8oz of hot water.

The Italian was first. Almost too bold for me and it left an oily aftertaste in my mouth. It was more like espresso. It would probably make a good iced coffee where you need a stronger flavor. Although I am from Rhode Island where iced coffee is nectar of the gods and "regular" coffee means with cream & sugar I prefer my iced coffee straight up. Just fyi-RI is the only place the makes bottled coffee syrup. OK-now I am homesick.

Next was the Columbia. I liked this one much better. Less bold and not as overpowering so I was able to enjoy the taste.

Both types beat any instant coffee I have tried by a mile. None of that bitter icky instant coffee taste.

Does Starbucks make VIA in decaf ? Yeah, I know-what's the point ? :)
The closest Starbucks is 45 miles away.

Marilyn Brant said...

Kris~I know! When I was traveling, there was no comparison between the hotel coffee and the VIA ;). Thanks for taste testing!!

Dorothy~I hope you got a lot of extra writing done!!

Tiffany~What an awesome breakfast shake! It never occurred to me to add protein powder--thanks so much for the great idea!

Jill~LOL about the decaf :-). That was my husband's question, too. Somehow, I don't think a decaf VIA will come on the market anytime soon, even though I'd really like it as well. (I can't have caffeine after dinner or I won't sleep...)

vvb32 reads said...

Medium - Smooth, nutty
Hot water from a water dispenser
added a splash of half and half

Italian Roast
Extra Bold - Rich, intense
Hot water from a water dispenser
added a splash of half and half

I liked both packets and the descriptions are spot on.
Both are good. If I had to choose though, I'd pick Columbia because of its milder taste.

I like the convenience of the small packets. They can easily fit in a purse and used anywhere with hot water.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Marilyn,

Your website and blogs are great.

I love them both, the Italian Roast and Columbia. I drank them both in the morning, and drank them hot. Both are full-bodied, no nonsense coffees, sure to appeal to the serious coffee drinker. I did have to add a bit of water to the Italian Roast, as it was quite strong. But I drank the Columbia as it was.

Starbucks has done it again. They have created two more flavors that will be sure-fire hits.

Thank you for letting me participate in the test.


Ayn Hunt

celi.a said...

Did you like it?
Short answer: yes. It's probably the highest quality instant coffee I've ever tried.

As compared to the prepared coffee at Starbucks?
No instant coffee will ever taste like freshly ground, filtered and prepared coffee.

I'd love to know if you sampled it hot or cold or both.
I tried the Colombia cold, and the Italian hot. Both were pretty good, though as it's hot outside, the cold hit the spot pretty well.

Which flavor did you like better?
The Italian. I like my coffee strong and bitter.

Were there any flavorings or toppings you added that made it especially tasty?
I almost always take a little half and half or milk with my coffee - these tasted as good as always.

Did you try it at home, at work or on the go?
I tried both packets at home.

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?
I think I'd buy it in a store instead of my usual instant coffee purchases (I keep instant around for emergencies), but not in place of a chance at fresh-brewed Starbucks.

Recipe: Celia's Decadent Iced Coffee & Milk

1 packet Italian Roast VIA packet
3 tablespoons HOT water
6 oz. whole milk
4-5 ice cubes
2 drops vanilla (optional)

Empty VIA packet into tall glass, and mix with the HOT (close to boiling) water. Add ice cubes, then milk & vanilla, and stir. Enjoy!

Marilyn Brant said...

vvb32~Super! Glad it worked well for you, and I agree those little packets just make it so easy when you're on the go somewhere.

Ayn~Thank you!! I was thrilled to have you be a part of the tasting :).

Marilyn Brant said...

Oh, Celia, you're awesome!! I *love* your recipe! And I think you've pinpointed where I may have made my iced coffee mistake: by *not* using hot water in the initial mixing. I'm going to try it your way (definitely with the optional vanilla and, also, some Splenda, because sweetener is a requirement for me...), but I really like the way this sounds, and I'm pretty sure it's going to taste terrific, too. Thank you!

M said...

I liked them both, but the Columbian better. I threw a cinnamon stick in before I microwaved, put the coffee in the hot water, added just a bit of sweet and low and half and half, sprayed on a little reddi whip and a sprinkle of cinnamon and called it an occasion. I do love my coffee! I can't start the day without it! Cheers.

Blythe Gifford said...

Okay, I’m the philistine here. Let me admit upfront: I am not a coffee connoisseur. When I go to Starbucks, I ask for green tea. At home, when I drink coffee, I drink instant. (Oh, the horror!) And I drink it hot, black, and without sugar. So that’s how I tested these two. My take? Too much like Starbucks. (But that was the point, right?) I guess I’d use the word “bitter” or “strong.” Made for additives, which I never use. Of the two, I’d give the slight edge to Columbia. But on those few occasions I might want the Starbucks experience without the hassle, this would definitely do it!

Sara Daniel said...

I tried the Italian Roast with Starbuck's Caramel Macchiato Milkshake recipe (pretty much the same as the Mocha Malted Milkshake, except with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce). It was delicous and oh-so-perfect on a hot sweaty day.
Then I tried the Columbian roast hot with just hot water and cream. Unfortunately, this was quite a letdown, as it was strong and slightly bitter. But that's hardly fair to the Columbian VIA packet, since my Starbucks drink of choice is a hot Caramel Macchiato.

I did try the Columbian again in the Caramel Macchiato Milkshake, just to be fair (and, really, because I wanted another one!). It is as delicious as the Italian Roast in this setting. I tried these a week apart, which unfortunately was too far apart for me to detect any subtle differences in the coffees I used. The Caramel Macchiato shake is as delicious as the Caramel Frappuccino from Starbucks, although the milkshake has a richer ice cream taste.

My biggest complaint (totally minor!) about the VIA packets is I can't open them at the "tear here" spot. I have to use scissors to get to my coffee, which slows me down a few precious seconds when I'm desperate for my coffee fix!

I'll continue to buy my hot lattes from Starbucks, and I'll use my VIA packets for delicious cold treats at home.

Thank you Marilyn for the extremely tasty experiment!!

Avery Beck said...

Hubby's and my taste test packets couldn't have arrived at a better time--on the day our coffee pot BROKE and we were left caffeine-less! Gasp! So THANK YOU for saving us. :-)

I didn't try anything creative with my coffee, just mixed with hot water and drank. I liked both (I'm not too picky, though) but also preferred the Colombian. Most exciting, though, was being able to have coffee without a pot. LOL

Marilyn Brant said...

M~Reddi Whip just makes everything better, doesn't it?! I love you cinnamon-stick idea, too--good thinking!

Blythe~LOL! I have relatives who routinely drink instant, and while I'm not above trying to convert them, the ease of it makes it quite understandable to me. Thanks for weighing in with your experiment!

Sara~Wow, I'm so impressed!! Look at you--the new C-N Barista, I believe! I love the way you made the Caramel Macchiato recipe, and you're definitely inspiring me to give that version a try. Thanks so much for sharing!

Avery~I'm so glad to have been of help, but...ohhhh, nooooo!!!! I'm sorry to hear about your broken coffee pot! Hope you'll have a new one that you love soon :).

Linda Mooney said...

Thank you, Marilyn, for this opportunity! I drank both of mine hot, with Sweet-n-Low and powdered creamer. The Italian Roast tasted like it had a higher acidic content (to me), and I prefer low acid coffees. So my "winner" was the Columbia. However, I'm partial to mochas (Yay, Frappuccino!). That's why I appreciate your mocha recipe!

I also agree with others when they say the packets are nice to have along in your purse when you want a cuppa but don't have access to fresh brewed.

Nean said...


Thanks for including me in this. I generally don't like instant coffee of any kind, and in reality, Starbucks isn't normally my favorite brand for coffee. I did however, really enjoy these and wish I could actually FIND them in our stores around here.

I had both of them hot with just a pack of sugar. I often drink my coffee with creamer, but I was out and about and didn't have creamer. ;)

Both were great. I prefer the Italian Roast (as I generally do in any brand) as I find it to be a far smoother coffee.

Pamala Knight said...

Okay, I only got a sip of the Italian Roast because I made the mistake of placing the packets near the coffee implements which my husband mistook for 'Oh look a present for me!'

Supply was replenished (thank you) and I enjoyed the Italian roast best. I found the flavor richer and more to my taste than the Columbian, which was also nice. My husband the coffee thief also liked the Italian roast if that counts, ;-).

Jill said...

Has anyone tried these


I have one at home and the small one in my friends nursing home room.

I do not think they have Starbucks Kcups yet .

Simone Elkeles said...

So I liked the stronger Italian Roast. I need a pick-me-up in the morning and I'm not usually a coffee drinker because my life is so hectic and the last thing I want to do is clean out a coffee pot and coffee machine so the instant VIA packets are awesome! I even went and bought one of those handy plastic coffee mugs where you can store a bunch of them underneath and see them through the clear plastic (have you seen those??)

I use mine with some sugar and organic vanilla milk.

I can't wait for your book to come out, Mariyn!

see said...

I tried both packets, Columbia hot and Italian cold. I am a espresso drinker so I like the Italian as the Columbia wasn't the strong shot I am used to. I do like cold coffee in the summer so that worked for me. I only use Splenda, but when I tried it without milk the taste wasn't right, so I added a little milk to both. If they made these in espresso shots, I would buy them by the case.

Marilyn Brant said...

Linda~So glad you enjoyed the coffees and liked my mocha recipe! It's quickly become one of my favorite drinks :).

Nean~Thanks for giving them a try! Hopefully Starbucks will have national distribution on the VIA soon so they'll be available in Pennsylvania and everywhere... Really glad you liked them!

Pamala~LOL about your husband "the coffee thief" :). I haven't done an official count yet, but it seems the Italian Roast is in the lead, so you two are in good company!

Jill~I just took a peek at the site--and, wow, those K cups are cool! I didn't see Starbucks coffee featured either, but I *did* see Ghiradelli hot cocoa--yum!!

Marilyn Brant said...

Simone~Thank you!!! I'm getting excited about the book, too. Only six more weeks... And, yes! I bought one of the plastic tumblers also--holds 6 VIA packets!--love that :-).

see~Glad you gave them a taste! I know a couple of people who feel as you do--that espresso packets would be a great next step--and I think that's an idea Starbucks ought to consider... Thanks so much for being a part of this event!

And thanks to K, who emailed me privately, for trying the VIA. Yet another Italian Roast winner ;).

T U Dawood said...

I liked the Columbia flavour over the Italian Roast, the first one cold and the second one hot.

Recipe: Cinnamon Columbia Cooler
1 packet Columbia VIA packet
3 tablespoons HOT water
6 oz. whole milk
4-5 ice cubes
pinch of cinnamon
(Ideal for a Vitamix but can also be made in a regular blender)
Topped with whipped cream (Cream Whip) with cinnamon sugar and chocolate flakes spinkled on top of it.
(tastes best when reading Persuasion during the heated scene where Captain Wentworth literally pulls Anne's nephews off of her)

Recipe: Italian Roast Mint Magic
1 packet Italian Roast VIA packet
3 tablespoons HOT water
2 drops mint liqueur or 1 mint candy crushed into pieces so they dissolve in this boiling hot concoction
(tastes best when reading Sense and Sensibility, particularly the scene when Willoughby carries Marianne in the rain storm)

I really enjoyed both and they had a premium taste compared to many other instant coffees (usually I'm not an instant coffee person).

I would definitely consider buying these, especially when having guests over or when I'm traveling because they are ultra convenient. Would love to try a Starbucks instant Hot Chocolate or my favourite of theirs, Peppermint Hot Chocolate.

Thank you so much Marilyn for sending the packets and for this lovely forum for discussing Starbucks, coffee, books and special moments. :-)

Mel Francis said...

Hey Marilyn! I nominated you for a Kreativ Award! *mwah!*

Brett said...

I rarely drink coffee, but since I enjoy coffee-flavored ice cream I opted to try both flavors cold. I prefer the flavor of the Colombian because it tasted milder and smoother.

When I made the Italian Roast, I mixed it with cold skim milk, and even though I didn't use any hot water, the coffee dissolved just fine. I also added a squirt of chocolate syrup...and then some more...to tone down the strong coffee flavor. You can never have too much chocolate! :)

When I tried the Colombian, I mixed it with cold milk, chocolate syrup, and a few drops of raspberry extract. YUM YUM!! I highly recommend that combo. It was delicious. :)

Vesper said...

Hi Marilyn, I received them two days ago (it really is a snail mail...) so I tried one yesterday and one today. Thank you so much for sending them! :-)
I liked them both, maybe the Italian a bit more than the Colombian. Anyway they are much better than regular instant.
I never put sugar in my coffee, just a little bit of milk.
I'll see if I can find them in Montreal.

Thank you again! :-)

Marilyn Brant said...

TU~What fabulous recipes you came up with, and I love how you included the accompanying book scenes! Just marvelous!! Thank you :).

Mel~Thanks, sweetie! I'm thilled by the honor. *Mwah* back!

Brett~Why is it that I never thought to *buy* raspberry extract?! Combined with the chocolate syrup, the milk and the coffee, it sounds scrumptuous! Adding it to my grocery list...

Vesper~So glad they made it safely to Quebec--wow! that did take a while!--and that you had a chance to try them :). Thanks so much for being a part of the event.

Hope to hear from even more tasters between now and next Wednesday, but what a fabulous group you all have been already--thank you!! Have a wonderful weekend, everyone :).

Tina M. Russo said...

Right now I am sipping the Columbia. I had to wait until the weekend. This is not a rushed affair. I boiled the water (filtered) and used my favorite stone mug and then added the packet followed by real cream as I do when I go to Starbucks.

Smooth. Smooth. Smooth.

I pick up a coffee of the day often, venti, room for cream and this was absolutely comparable.

I usually ask for the less strong brew they have.

No difference in my opinion.

Could I be swayed by the fact that it is Friday and I am off work? Possibly.

I did utter, OH. MY. GOD. This is good.

Tomorrow, Italian Roast.

Helen Ginger said...

I tried my Italian Roast and really liked it - hot. I still have the Colombia and am thinking I'll make it cold with extra cream, over ice. Don't have any special recipes, though. Thanks for sending me the packets!

Straight From Hel

Sandra Ferguson said...

Sorry I missed your coffee party. I can't stand the stuff -- have always been of the tea persuasion. I will be the first to admit that I love anything in a single packet. No muss, no fuss, open, pour, and drink. Would that all my life was so simple.

Beth C said...

Hi Marilyn-
I got the Italina roast and the Dark roast and I like the Italian roast best, I think. I had it one Sunday morning when my dh was gone to work and I didn't want to brew a pot of coffee before church. I like the ease of being able to do one cup and go.
SO are these packets available in stores yet? Thanks for the sample!
Beth Cornelison

Bethany said...

I love frozen coffee drinks so I attempted my own frappacino with these since I hate having to brew extra strength coffee, wait for it to cool, and then worry about whether it's too weak or strong.

I started with a half pack of each and found it perfectly strong.
1/2 pack of via (I liked the Italian more for this, but Columbia wasn't bad)
1/4 glass organic skim (I'm weird and find that different milk just tastes different)
1 tbs sugar (I love sugar, normal people might want less)
3-5 ice cubes, depending on how big they are
Blend until the ice is all broken and the milk is frothy.

Sip while reading Crusie, Wrede, or McKinley while keeping a hand over it so excited foster kittens don't dunk their whole face in (happened with my first cup :( )

Going to have to buy more--I figure it's cheaper than a real frappecino...

Tina M. Russo said...

Italian Roast. Hot with cream. Again very smooth.

This is like comparing apples and oranges.They are very different.

This is a stong brew, definately an after dinner coffee as far as I am concerned. A one cup finale to the meal.

What struck me on both brews is they don't taste like instant and they don't have an after taste.

Some of the Starbucks brews simply are too strong and bitter for me even though I like a bold blend. These were both excellent.

The Columbia would probably be my daily staple brew.

Tina M. Russo said...

I love this product enough to order online. BUT. The retail cost of 12 packets while not cheap at $9.99 is sadly inflated by a $7.99 shipping fee. It is available in Chicago and Seattle Starbucks stores. Thankfully my nephew works at a Seattle SB store otherwise Marilyn would be getting a houseguest very soon.

Marilyn Brant said...

Tina~I'm so glad you had a couple of relaxing cups of coffee to enhance a hopefully calm and stress-free weekend :). And I *love* that you have a favorite stone mug--I do, too!

Helen~Glad you enjoyed the Italian Roast! Hope the Colombia tastes just as good when you make the iced variation :).

Sandra~Oh, me, too, with the single-serving packets!! BTW, I love tea as well as coffee, esp. Berryblossom White (Tazo). What are you favorites?

Beth C~Delighted to hear you enjoyed it! I know they're available online, but I don't think they're in Louisiana yet. Possibly this fall?? I was hoping they'd go national with them soon...

Bethany~Awesome frappucino recipe--that sounds delicious!! And LOL about the kittens ;).

Marilyn Brant said...

Tina~OMG, you're so right! I hadn't considered shipping costs... I know I'm spoiled having 3 Starbucks stores (all within a 2-mile radius) that carry the VIA. Of course, if the coffee doesn't make it to Colorado anytime soon, it would be fun to have you as a houseguest!!

Anonymous said...

I tried both the IR and the C. I'm with everyone who said the IR is stronger and I really liked that! I made them both hot with cream and one packet of natural sugar. Tasted really yummy!


Gail Fuller said...

Here's another vote for the Italian Roast. I love strong coffee. :) It was wonderful! As in 'OMGosh, I hope they have it in Canada' wonderful. I'll have to check that out. :)

Thanks again for the coffee treats! :)

All the best,
Gail, who is looking forward to According to Jane (my Mom too!)

gleecady said...

I am a hot coffee black person and I much preferred the Italian Roast -- my "usual" favorite is drip Sumatra so you'll see why, I'm sure. I wish that these were going to be available elsewhere soon. I think they'd be perfect to send to our deployed troops. Real good coffee for real good folks. Thanks for the opportunity to taste test.

Marilyn Brant said...

Wow! 3 votes in a row for the Italian Roast :).

Samantha~Glad you had a chance to sample both and enjoyed the tasting experience!

Gail~You (and your mom) are wonderful! Hopefully Starbucks will start shipping some VIA out to Canada sometime soon:).

gleecady~What an excellent idea to send VIA packets to the deployed troops... I've tried an MRE before, and the included coffee couldn't hope to compare to this. Thank you for that fabulous suggestion.

Rachel said...

I liked both kinds of coffee. I preferred the Italian Roast over the Columbia because I thought the Columbia was a little too dark for me.

With both I used my creamer, which is CoffeeMate's "Italian Sweet Cream."

I thought it tasted just like regularly brewed coffee. And I might even prefer these to the brewed coffee at Starbucks because Starbucks coffee is so, so strong and dark.

If this is sold in Starbucks, I would certainly buy it again. I doubt I would buy it online, just to avoid shipping fees.

lainey bancroft said...

Mmm, coffee!

Okay, I'm a black and straight-up kinda gal for my morning java, so I made both packages together for a true taste test experience. Hot, unsweetened and black, both the I and C are superior to any other instant I've tried. I like the smoothness of the Colombian a tad better.

BUT...I did not guzzle them and stop there. After a few sips to define the taste, I allowed them to chill. The Colombian made a perfect mid-morning snack mixed in a blender with a 1/2 cup of low fat vanilla yogurt, a few ice cubes and 6 strawberries. Italian roast was a delightful afternoon pick-me-up blended with low fat milk, ice, a drizzle of chocolate sauce and a drop of almond flavor.


(No wonder I don't sleep)...I mean, THANKS, Marilyn. =)

bski0409 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bernadine said...

Oh yes, and it's me, Bernadine. Not sure why my email instead of my name comes up on here!

bski0409 said...

I loved it. I must say, I have never been an instant coffee fan, but this was really good. I love Starbucks anyway, but didn't this would be as good, but it is. My favorite was the Italian roast, but that is my poison of choice. I tried the Italian hot, with just skim milk. It was very good, very bold. I couldn't tell it was instant. I love making shakes with Starbucks coffee ice cream so I tried the following with the Colombian: I prepared the coffee as it said on the pack, then iced it to cool quickly. I removed the ice then put the coffee, 1 scoop of low fat vanilla ice cream, and about 2 oz fat free half and half in the blender and blended into a shake. Was yummy!! You could add your favorite flavor shots too. I would definitely buy the VIA packets, as it was just as good as the Starbucks brewed coffee, but a lot quicker! I really enjoyed this taste test. Thanks Marilyn!

Bernadine, bski0409

Marilyn Brant said...

Rachel~I love your pairing of the Italian Roast with the Italian Sweet Cream--yum! And, yeah, those shipping costs are really high. I hadn't been thinking about that until you and Tina mentioned it. Is it a handling cost? That's the only thing I can figure since to ship anything Priority Mail in the U.S. is only $4.95...

Lainey~You are a true coffee experimentalist! I'm so impressed that you fixed them both hot AND cold--and the coffee treats you made were SO cool (literally, figuratively)!!!

Bernadine~Great to see you here and WOW on the great coffee shake idea!! That just sounds delicious! Thank you for sharing your taste-testing triumph with us :).

Bloggin BB said...

Confession Time: I drink instant coffee on a regular basis. I know. I know. But that's what happens when you are the lone coffee drinker in your house and I can't stand the taste of warmed up coffee the next day.

So, I was pleasantly surprised by the taste of these two brews! The are so smooth and well, GOOD! I prefer the Columbia simply because it is a bit lighter of a roast and that is my taste preference. But the Italian was good, too.

I think someone else mentioned Coffeemate's Italian Sweet Cream creamer and this coffee is great with it. I'm about to go try adding some vanilla or mint, depending on what I can dig up.

Thanks for introducing these. I'm not the biggest Starbucks fan, but once these spread to more cities, I'll be buying some.

Margay said...

I have to admit that I jumped at the chance to taste test this product because it's from Starbucks and they have a pretty good reputation in the coffee field (wink). This, despite the fact that I don't usually like instant coffee - it's brewed or nothing for me. You can call me a coffee snob, I won't mind.

Well, I was pleasantly surprised. I did like the Italian Roast more than the Colombian, but both were good. I was surprised by how fine the coffee was, more like powder than granules, and how easily it mixed with the water. After seeing this, I almost regret not drinking it cold water (I didn't because I was afraid it wouldn't mix well in cold water). I guess I will just have to get some more to try it cold next time!


Margay said...

I almost forgot! Thank you, Marilyn, for the opportunity to take part in this.

Marilyn Brant said...

Blogging BB~LOL! I know about being the only one in the house who eats or drinks something (here, that mostly includes veggies that neither my son or husband will touch :), so there are no judgments from me on the instant coffee!! Glad you had a chance to try the VIA and that you liked it, too!

Margay~You're so welcome! I'm thrilled you enjoyed the tasting experience and that you took the time to share your observations with us, too :).