Starbucks is on a big push for this VIA Ready Brew (1) instant coffee. They have been rolling this stuff out for more than a year now, they have been doing in-store tastings and they just introduced flavored VIA Ready Brew instant coffee (2). Starbucks however is not where I go for my instant coffee. No one does. So even though the VIA Ready Brew may be better than Sanka, it may as well be toilet swill. Starbucks needs to kill this VIA Ready Brew push before VIA Ready Brew kills Starbucks.
A quick online search pulls up the following from About.com (3) about instant coffee. “In 1901, just-add-water ‘instant’ coffee was invented by Japanese American chemist Satori Kato of Chicago.” So it’s not new. Instant coffee has been around a long time. And we know where to get it if we want it. We’ve got Nescafe (4), we’ve got Sanka (5), we’ve got Folgers (6), we’ve got Maxwell House (7), we’ve even got Juan Valdez (8). We know what instant coffee is, we know where to go to get this (usually the office kitchen or the back of the pantry at home).
We don’t go to Starbucks for instant coffee. We don’t pay gourmet prices for anything but gourmet coffee. I have had the VIA Ready Brew on a number of occasions and I can say that VIA Ready Brew is not Starbucks quality coffee.
I can appreciate that research and development put a lot of time and energy into this product. A product which will ultimately not find success. I can also appreciate that a lot of other brands of coffee have an ‘instant’ as well as their regular blend. But consider this; Starbucks came at this business from an inorganic route. Rather than try and sop up all the customers they could offering reasonably priced product at reasonable prices and then raising their prices and increasing their quality to the maximum allowable limit that their customers would pay, Starbucks started out robbing us all blind. Seven dollars for a mixed espresso drink? Of course.
So, try though they may like to rebrand themselves as an ‘everyman’ kind of coffee, Starbucks has got the customer they’ve got. The customer who has their single service coffee machines in their homes and office from names like Keurig (9) when they can’t go out to pay for that seven dollar espresso drink.
From an economic standpoint, Starbucks shouldn’t even exist let alone be as wildly successful as they have been. If Starbucks needs to close down some stores or alter their price structure somewhat, that’s fine. The well-to-do who shop their daily won’t stop over a few pennies. But Starbucks should consider themselves lucky for even being in existence.
Kill VIA Ready Brew Starbucks. it’s the only way.