Monday, October 05, 2009

Starbucks VIA Ready Brew instant coffee & giveaway

Starbucks VIA coffee
I got a chance to try "VIA Ready Brew" coffee last week, and perhaps you tried it too over the weekend when Starbucks was offering taste tests in their stores*. It was the best instant coffee I've ever tasted, and it was certainly the most expensive instant coffee I ever tasted, at about $1 per serving. VIA is being sold in a 12 pack for $9.95 and a 3 pack for $2.95. Starbucks doesn't want you to stop drinking their fresh brewed coffee, they want you to take VIA everywhere you can't get their fresh brewed coffee. For people who drink good coffee everyday, this might be an acceptable option when camping, traveling, or for making iced coffee in a hurry, since it dissolves in hot or cold water.

The story behind Starbucks VIA instant coffee is interesting. The late Don Valencia was a cell biologist who developed a technique for freeze-drying cells for examination under the microscope. In the early 1990's Starbucks hired him to head up research and development. His research led to creation of a coffee extract used in many products including bottled drinks and ice cream. It also led to the patent-pending process for making a new kind of instant coffee with more of the aroma, flavor and body of fresh brewed coffee.

I have a confession to make. I'm not really a coffee drinker. I drink it when I'm in Italy, otherwise, not so much. But I do love the flavor of coffee in baked goods, stews, chili, ice cream, you name it. I have a bottle of espresso powder I keep in the fridge for cooking purposes, but even I can tell that instant is not the same as fresh brewed coffee. Since I am not a regular coffee drinker, I will probably be using my samples primarily for cooking.

I have 10 each 3 packs of Columbia and Italian Roast, both are made from 100% arabica beans, ethically sourced. The Columbia is described as "rich and smooth" the Italian "big, bold and full-bodied." To win a sample, leave a comment with any thoughts you have about coffee, a recipe idea, favorite blend, how you might use it, whatever you like. I will choose 10 winners at random who will receive a 3 pack of each variety. You must have a valid email address and US mailing address since I am paying to mail these out. You can also use your sample to inspire an entry in the Starbucks VIA contest with prizes ranging from free coffee to roundtrip airline tickets or a $2,500 Williams-Sonoma gift card. Good luck!

* Today, Monday October 5th, is the last day of the taste test to try VIA for free at Starbucks stores. They will even give you a free cup of brewed coffee for your time.

GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED, THANKS FOR YOUR COMMENTS