I recently mentioned having conversations with soldiers about how terrible coffee is while they’re deployed and I can only imagine how important it is to their long days on patrol. This video show’s a few Canadian soldiers keeping themselves entertained by showing friends at home how they make coffee in the field. Bring them home!
Warning: every other word beings with “F” if that bothers you or your boss.
However, Starbucks has recently launched a fun new campaign to promote VIA, their instant coffee. The new website allows you to virtually and physically (through the use of a coupon) share a customized mug of VIA with a friend. While I’m no fan of instant coffee, I did review VIA last December and sadly, it’s better than Starbucks drip coffee. But all of my coffee snobbery aside, I do appreciate the design and—to a certain extent—the marketing behind the company. Starbucks has a solid in-house design group in Seattle and they consistently turn out high quality packaging, collateral, and emotion driven campaigns.
This new campaign does just that, while utilizing social media, customization, and mugs—which I love—and something many coffee drinkers have an intimate connection with. Now, if only Starbucks would start using them again in all of their stores, we could begin to stop wasting billions of paper cups each year (atleast they’re trying!).
Colombia Starbucks VIA
Single Serving Micro Ground – $Free
Seattle, WA www.starbucks.com
Bean: Micro ground to a powder as fine as Colombia’s other well known pick-me-up.
Aroma: After deciding to mix with hot water instead of snorting, I hovered, wafted and inhaled a somewhat surprising aroma. It was subtle and earthy, comforting like Grandpa’s sweater, but much more pleasant than the Folger’s he consumed. There was a hint of brightness that occasionally poked through the soft undertones of Mexican chocolate, like oranges married with a ripe hamper full of dirty clothes. I was convinced enough to give this blasphemous convenience a fair chance.
Taste: Sipping from a mug surviving the days when Starbucks actually used them, I was immediately impressed by the smooth, low acidic taste presented by this magical concoction. The shock of burnt grinds never came and the lack of flavor that most Kuerig cups embody was trumped by, well, flavor. The delicate tinge of chili powder seasoned every mouthful of this liquid trail mix, highlighting the rich presence of walnuts. If only it provided the same protein and essential fatty acids, I’d have myself a meal.
However, after my enjoyable stroll through the peanut gallery subsided, a pungent aftertaste took hold. Flashbacks of an older brother stuffing dirty socks in my mouth leapt to the forefront of my conscious. I was forced to drink more just to mask the unsettling memory.
Overall, I am thunderstuck (cool word huh?) by the texture and taste of this instant coffee, one whose marketing budget may rival Avatar’s. I would prefer a cup of this over a fresh one of Pike Place any day, but that’s not saying much.
*I tried the Italian Roast as well, barely making it through half the cup. It tasted, as I imagine a musket full of gunpowder would; sharp, abrasive, and capable of fueling rockets during a Chinese New Year.