Thursday, May 24, 2012

Starbucks Instant Coffee, At Least The Via Vanilla Flavor, Leaves Me Unimpressed.

The Good: Easy to prepare, Does not taste bad.
The Bad: Exceptionally expensive, Environmental impact of packaging, Does not taste at all like Vanilla
The Basics: A good instant Vanilla coffee beverage, Starbucks Via Ready Brew Vanilla coffee is more expensive and bland than impressive.

Starbucks now has a pretty extensive line of at-home coffee products and I’m not sure what the point is yet. None of the at-home Starbucks products have truly wowed me in a way that I feel like I want to buy them or stock up on them. My wife is a fan of the Via line of Starbucks instant coffees and I figured that meant I ought to give them a fair shake to review them. Today’s flavor, Starbucks Via Vanilla, left me thoroughly underwhelmed. It is pretty average coffee, but exceptionally sweetened and that seems very expensive for what it is.

Perhaps that is the whole point of the at-home Starbucks line: provide mediocre instant coffee products so people will go out and spend more money at the Starbucks cafes. If that were true, that would be delightfully diabolical.


Starbucks Via Ready Brew Vanilla instant coffee is part of Starbucks's new premium instant coffee line and one suspects that the company is trying to compete with the established home-brewing coffee companies, like Taster’s Choice. This mix now comes in plastic tubes in cardboard containers easily found in the grocery store. The box has six packets and at a standard price of about $7.99 per box, that is wickedly expensive by my count.

Ease Of Preparation

Starbucks Via Ready Brew Vanilla instant coffee mix is exceptionally simple to make. The single serving is the packet and six fl. oz. of water. There is no measuring of the product involved, so this is a very simple beverage to prepare.

The top of the single-serve packet has a perforated edge and one need simply tear open the top, which is quite easy, and pour the contents of the packet into a mug that is at least eight ounces large. Then, simply pour near-boiling water over the powder and stir. Stir the powder until there are no blobs of coffee granules visible in the water. The beverage will have a dark brown color to it.


The Starbucks Via Vanilla smells more like coffee than vanilla. The aroma is distinctive and it instantly made me wonder how the beverage would pull off vanilla. After all, most vanilla flavored coffees that I have encountered have smelled like vanilla, but not tasted like it. Not even smelling like vanilla immediately made me wary of taking the first sip.

Oddly, the taste is a real mixed bag. The flavor of the Starbucks Via Vanilla is not at all any sort of realistic vanilla flavor. This is a fairly mild cup of coffee that comes pre-sweetened. The coffee flavor is fairly indistinct; it tastes like coffee that is not particularly dark. Instead, this brought to mind a small diner where the coffee gets changed frequently, but is not terribly good. This is a very average cup of hot coffee and the sweetener makes it palatable, but not good. This coffee has a very dry aftertaste and it leaves the mouth slightly sour.


Starbucks Via Ready Brew Vanilla instant coffee is a coffee mix and therefore is entirely lacking in nutritional value. There are sixty calories per packet and 15 grams of carbs. There is also caffeine, but how much is a mystery. Despite the fact that this possesses a gram of protein, this is not a beverage intended to be a health drink or a drink one might survive on. The caffeine in it is sufficient enough that I am a little jittery after drinking the full six to eight ounces!

This is made exclusively of Arabica instant coffee with natural flavors and cane sugar.


So long as one gets Starbucks Via Ready Brew Vanilla instant coffee mix in the packet, it ought to stay usable. Visiting my local supermarket, most of the packages of this instant coffee had an expiration date over a year away, though the ones I bought on clearance expire in June of this year. One assumes it will last quite a while and dissolve appropriately when one attempts to use it. The packets, for those of us who consider the environmental impact of such things, are terribly wasteful and expensive. The foil/plastic wrappers are not recyclable anywhere I've been.

Cleanup is very easy as well. If the product spills while dumping it into the mug, simply wipe it up or brush it up with a dry or damp cloth. If it has already been reconstituted with water into coffee, simply wipe it up. Light fabrics are likely to stain if this gets on them, in which case consult your fabric care guide to clean it up.


Starbucks Via Vanilla is an expensive instant coffee that is good, but a disappointment for those looking for something that is truly vanilla flavored.

For other Starbucks and coffee reviews, please visit my reviews of:
Starbucks Cafe Estima Coffee
Starbucks Via Iced Coffee
Kahlua Mocha Coffee


For other food or drink reviews, please visit my index page by clicking here!

© 2012 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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