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Backpacker Magazine – 2010 Editors' Choice/Gear Guide

Editors' Choice 2010: Starbucks VIA Ready Brew

The best instant coffee. Ever.

by: BACKPACKER Editors

Starbucks VIA Ready Brew (Steve Howe)
Starbucks VIA Ready Brew (Steve Howe)

We’ve had Editors’ Choice trips devolve into near-mutiny when the java ran out. Our staff caffeinistas insist on carrying fresh grounds and bulky brewing kits, which on long treks inevitably leads to coffee rationing. And it always comes with futzy cleanup and excess waste.

We’re happy to report that we sailed through a week in the Alps with no coffee wars and no mess—and had java to spare. Starbucks may not have intended to make the world’s greatest camp coffee when it launched VIA, but we love the result: easy-packing, single-serve tubes of trip-saving joe. Credit the microgrinding process that preserves the flavor and oils of the 100-percent Arabica beans.

Our favorite roast: Colombian (also available in Italian and Decaf Italian). No bitter instant aftertaste, subtle and complex flavor, and a quick energy boost. $3/3 packets;

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Reader Rating: -


Nov 20, 2011

The stuff is horrible. They don't call it "Charbucks" for nuthin.

Mar 31, 2011

Great product, saves carrying a couple of pounds of grounds on a long trip and no apparatus needed other than a stove. Someone said it was too strong...Dude, add more water! I tried the Folgers packet...yuck! I do wish it came in a bulk container to save packaging. I have to open a lot of little packages to fill up a ziploc.

Oct 26, 2010

Can anyone say "waste of packaging"?

Aug 07, 2010

I thought the Via coffee was awfully strong. If you're used to taking your coffee with cream and sugar and you make the mistake of drinking the VIA black on a trip, forget about it. Jetboil makes a coffee press that seems to be a better choice.

Jul 02, 2010

Via is way good stuff, not only convenient but is worth it's weight in taste also.

May 08, 2010

CostCo may be cheaper, but you can only get the colombia flavor, which is mild. Italian is the best and that is only sold at the stores!

May 06, 2010

Great cup of coffee. Three cross country trips and countless camping weekends in '09, VIA was a life saver. As for the "trash", compared to paper cups, sleeves, gas station lids and so on makes it the better choice in my mind. It has a great taste, and scorched is not on the list of flavors at all. I am a blind test coffee taster and Starbucks VIA made it into my top three. As it did with the other 19 people testing with me.

May 04, 2010

Dennis, I think there is a misunderstanding. Mountaintop or city, there is no need for single servings. I need the wrappers as little in the land fill as in the backcountry. If Starbucks wants to be as environmentally friendly as they say they are, it would be sold in larger quantities.

Nicolas Velez
May 04, 2010

I would never change my french press and my coffee for instant stuff! More taste, less waste !!

May 04, 2010

Finally! Hands down the best cup of "instant" coffee I have ever had. If you are a "diehard" coffee drinker and musht have a cup or two a day, it's definatly worth it! Thank You Starbucks!!!

red dog
May 04, 2010

You can’t please all of the people all of the time, but VIA gets mostly very high marks from the participants in the “Backcountry Cooking” forum on this site whenever the subject of coffee comes up (frequently).
Sure, a bit pricey at one buck per caffeine jolt, but for those of us that like it, it is the only coffee we carry on trail.

alpine bob
May 04, 2010

Buy It at costco It's cheaper there

May 04, 2010

Hey guys, this is great stuff and easy to deal with, for Stu who thinks it is too much trash, please get creative and pour the contents into container prior to your trip, then make it as weak or as strong as you want it and leave the trash at home. But for how small and light and how very little trash it makes, this is a wonderful solution, and for those that simply hate SB, get over it.

Sarah Miller
May 04, 2010

This is very good, when you cannot get the real thing,VIA steps in and does the job.

May 04, 2010

It tastes even worse then other Starbucks offerings. 'Schorched' is very accurate description of the flavor. I much prefer Instant Espresso from Fred Meyer.

May 04, 2010

Good cup of coffee, but a bit expensive at $1.00 per sleve. When I use a insulated mug (14 0z) I need to use two sleves to achive the bold taste that I Like

May 04, 2010

Does it have the same scorched flavor that other Starbucks varieties have?

Apr 27, 2010

To much trash from packaging. The coffee does taste great, but why single servings? Mount Hagen sells an organic freeze dried coffee that is just as good if not better. I can handle deciding how much to poor in.

Apr 27, 2010

I am so lazy I will even drink this stuff at home. Or it's so tasty. Yeah, that's it.

Apr 27, 2010

I haven't tried the Starbucks VIA, but I've been pretty happy using Medaglia d'Oro instant espresso.

Apr 27, 2010

my thoughts exactly. when i did their in-store taste test a couple months back, the first thing that popped into my head was "no more french press and nasty cleanup" while camping. while not quite my soy latte favorite, this is definitely a great cup of joe.


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