Starbucks VIA is touted as the perfection of everything that was wrong with traditional instant coffee. Announced by Starbucks Coffee Company on February 17, 2009, Starbucks claimed that the development of a revolutionary process to allow you to get the quality of a great roasted coffee blend with the simplicity and convenience of an instant coffee.
Starbucks generally sells its VIA coffee in single serving packets, packaged together in either 3 or 12 packets. Each single serving packet makes the equivalent of a tall coffee. A major benefit of the VIA technology is the ability to dissolve in both hot and cold water. Traditionally if people wanted a tasty glass of iced coffee, they were either left with either brewing a pot and refrigerating it over night, or making an Americano (a mixture of espresso shot and water).
On launch day, Starbucks offered only two flavors, Columbia and Italian Roast. Columbia was marketed as the standard cup of coffee and was available at major wholesalers such as Costco in 50 serving packets, while Italian Roast was only available directly from Starbucks. Today, the VIA brand includes five coffee varieties of traditional coffee, including decaf and a special iced coffee blend. In addition, Starbucks has also introduced four premium flavored coffees: Vanilla, Carmel, Cinnamon Spice, and Mocha.
Starbucks also created an entire line of coffee cups, carriers and accessories to support the VIA brand. The custom travel mugs are sized for either a single or double serving and have built in slots to hold additional servings of the coffee. During the Christmas 2010 season, Starbucks launched its first VIA brewer. The VIA brewer is the functional equivalent of a single cup drip machine without the coffee. Thus you end up with one cup of hot water, to which you can add a VIA packet.
If you're a fan of coffee and convenience is key, I definitely recommend giving VIA a try. It's not quite up to the standard of a traditional drip coffee, and definitely not as good as a well done French roast, but for instant, it sure raises the bar.