Starbucks Coffee Taste Test (House Blend versus VIA® Columbia)


Starbucks Coffee Taste Test (House Blend versus VIA® Columbia)
Where: Madison Heights & Troy, MI, USA
When: Jan 19, 2010, 7:00 AM and 12:00 PM
Misc: 25-35 degrees
Size: Small coffee vs. Columbia instant VIA®
Cost: $2.95 for VIA® (3 Servings), $1.85 for small coffee

Today is all about the challenge of old school coffee making versus instant gratification, or what a marketing campaign calls mobile anytime enjoyment.

The coffee subject for this challenge is Starbucks and their in-store brewed coffees compared to the instant VIA® Columbia. Since they claim they’ve found a way to make a “perfect cup” in an instant form. I guess, we’ll be the judge of that.

The challenge began with a morning stop at Starbucks. I wandered into the store half asleep, but quickly awoke with the freshly brewed scent of their coffees enveloping me. Since most everyone was in the drive thru, I only had to wait a minute for a couple of people ahead of me in line.

“I’ll have a small coffee”, I stated.

Like a pit crew the coffee was in my hand in about 20 seconds. This I very much appreciated.

With my small coffee in tow I headed to the office.

The Starbucks cup is paper and requires a cardboard sleeve to keep the heat off your hands while holding.

Though I must admit, I did continue to get hot fingers because I didn’t always stay on the sleeve.

The lid is a basic solo covering and is the spout is open. This I did not appreciate because in combination with a paper cup allows the heat to dissipate much quicker.

From the first sip it was unmistakable what I was drinking. Starbucks has a deep richness of flavors that do not disappoint. It’s almost as if you get the full story from the coffee each time you taste it and left me wanting more and more.

When my cup was empty, I was eager to see how the instant VIA® Columbia would compare.

Three Stogies Andy and I planned to meet around noon at the Cigar Factory for the second leg of the challenge. Of course while there we might as well pair the coffee with a cigar and truly dedicate ourselves to the review.

When I arrived, Andy and I went into the walk-in in search of a nice accompaniment. Because of the vast choices it was tough to make a decision, but we ended up with CAO La Traviata Divino (a review of this cigar will definite be coming).

With our cigar choice completed we settled in for the VIA® Columbia review. Three Stogies Concert Guy Kurt Goetzke would also be joining us to interview us during the process.

The VIA® comes in a small narrow packet that tears open to allow you to dispense the powder into hot or cold water (ours was hot). After tearing it open, which was easy, I began to pour the powder into my water.

Unfortunately it took some coaxing to get it all out.

When I finally had all of the powder in my water I needed something mix them together, because nothing was at hand I simply folded the VIA® page in half and used it as a stir stick. Funny enough, it worked effectively.

My first sip of the VIA® was a bit disappointing. The taste was not a broad as the store brewed coffee. It still provided the Starbucks flavors that I know, just a little watered down.

The cigar & coffee combination did possibly help the VIA® cause be adding to the pleasant nutty flavors. But as time went on my attention was much more dedicated to enjoying the stogie.

In the end, without question the hands-down winner was the store brewed cup.

Though not a cigar review, I will still use the Three Stogies rating system for your reference.

Store Brewed Rating: Four and a Half Stogies
VIA® Columbia Rating: Three Stogies