Sometime in January, I developed a new addiction: Starbucks’ (NASDAQ: SBUX) VIA Ready-Brew. I must admit I’m not a huge coffee snob, I’ll take my caffeine anyway I can get it, but VIA was really tasty — and the instant-ness of it offered me something I value more than caffeine: no Starbucks experience.
I know Howard Schultz has built an empire on the Starbucks experience, but frankly, this grouch just wants a quiet cup of Go-Juice to get through the day. And I want it without having to fight D.C.-Metro-area traffic or tolerating the hipster doofus who wants to know my name and will take 10 minutes to pour a cup. For me, VIA isn’t about a caffeine fix or instant gratification; it’s about my time. The older I get, the less time I have. There are not enough hours in the day. (I risked being late for work just to finish this post.) So if I can get a terrific cup of coffee at home within the space of three minutes — as opposed to the 20+ it would take me at my local Starbucks — then I will happily invest $3 (for the 3-pack) or $11 (for the 12-pack) of my discretionary income in the cute little boxes filled with caffeine, the cute little boxes who won’t ask me my name or try to fake a friendship in hopes of selling me a cardboard biscotti.
In addition to expanding VIA’s presence beyond the Starbucks coffeehouses, the coffee giant continues to build the line by releasing the VIA flavored coffees in caramel, mocha, cinnamon, and vanilla. These are medium-bodied coffees, not the punch-in-the-face extra bold Italian Roast I’ve come to love and need in recent weeks. The Starbucks blog suggests pairing the VIA Vanilla Flavored Coffee (their capitalization) with the Petite Vanilla Bean Scone (“to create dreamy vanilla nirvana”), and VIA Mocha Flavored Coffee is supposed to be a “chocolate dream come true” when paired with the Double Fudge Mini Doughnut. To enjoy these expanded dream-state experiences (sugar rushes?), you have to travel to your neighborhood ‘Bucks and suffer through the tedious up-sell. And the chatter. And the lines. Meanwhile, I’ll be at home, “never without great coffee,” having my own Starbucks experience.