Taste Test: Coffee Review Rates Starbucks VIA Against Other Instants

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Starbucks VIA instant coffees proved only marginally better tasting than competing (and much cheaper) instant coffees according to coffee experts at Coffee Review, an online publication that rates and reviews coffees.

Coffee Review experts “could detect little sign of significant breakthrough in instant coffee quality” in two Starbucks VIA non-flavored instant coffees.

In a recent blind tasting of instant coffees available on the North American market conducted by editors of Coffee Review, the experts “could detect little sign of significant breakthrough in instant coffee quality” in two Starbucks VIA non-flavored instant coffees, the Colombia VIA Ready Brew Colombia and Italian Roast.

Coffee Review, led by editor Kenneth Davids, conducts regular sensory testing of coffees sold in whole bean and roast-and-ground formats and reports its findings in the form of 100-point ratings and reviews. This was the first review of instant coffees in the Review’s fourteen-year history. Whole-bean coffees from top-end small specialty roasting companies typically generate ratings in the 90’s; canned coffees in the high 70’s to low 80’s. This set of instant coffees averaged 69, with Nescafé Taster’s Choice Colombia topping the ratings at 78, and Starbucks’ VIA Colombia Instant a close second at 77. The eleven tested instant coffees as a group averaged 69, a discouraging outcome for instant coffee drinkers according to Mr. Davids.

Mr. Davids, who has published three books on the topic of gourmet coffee, speculates that the poor quality of most of the instant coffees his team tested is closely related to their low cost, as little as nine to fifteen cents per serving. Normal brewing extracts about 20% of the solids in coffee, he points out, whereas instant coffee processing may remove as much as 40%, including, according to him, substances that perhaps “ought to get composted with the coffee grounds rather than dried and put in a jar for human consumption.”

“You do get what you pay for, however,” Mr. Davids points out. “The decent-tasting, top-rated Nescafé Taster’s Choice 100% Colombian costs around thirty cents per serving, as opposed to an average of about twelve cents per serving for competing instants. Except, of course, for the Starbucks, which costs an amazing one dollar per serving, or eight to ten times as much as most competing products. I am not complaining about the price,” he concludes. “I only wish the Starbucks VIA instant coffees justified that price in the cup. For us they flat out did not.”

About The Coffee Review

Founded in 1997, Coffee Review is an influential online coffee publication that pioneered 100-point reviews in the specialty coffee industry. Editor Kenneth Davids and other well-respected coffee experts conduct blind coffee tastings that provide an objective buying guide for coffee lovers. Thousands of coffee reviews appear on the company’s website at http://www.coffeereview.com.

About Coffee Review

Founded in 1997, Coffee Review is an influential online coffee publication that pioneered 100-point reviews in the specialty coffee industry. Editor Kenneth Davids and other well-respected coffee experts conduct blind coffee tastings that provide an objective buying guide for coffee lovers. Thousands of coffee reviews appear on the company’s website at http://www.coffeereview.com.

Contact:
Ted Stachura
Coffee Review
510-653-8131

http://www.coffeereview.com

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