Instant coffee has a new look with the launch of Starbucks VIA, a line of 'ready brew' coffee granules in sachets the brand says will give java-heads 'great coffee on the go'.
The company says the product name is a play on Don Valencia, the man who started researching instant coffee for Starbucks 20 years ago.
Not content just to give out 100 free sachets at each of its 100 Hong Kong outlets to celebrate its Wednesday launch, the brand organised a media event at its Hopewell Centre outlet to show off the versatility of the product.
Starbucks baristas presided over a blind-tasting of VIA flavours, Colombia and Italian Roast, against two of the caf?'s brewed house blends - straight up, with no milk or sugar. Some tasters had difficulty differentiating between the drip and instant coffees, to the delight of the brand's marketing team.
More fun ensued with a hands-on lesson on creating different coffee drinks using the granules, including an iced lemon and coffee soda, which met with mixed reviews.
To take the bitter edge off, Starbucks presented special desserts - a panna cotta and a tiramisu - made with VIA, which are not on the caf?'s regular menu.
Judging from the buzz tasters felt after sampling these no-brew coffees, the public can rest assured that optimal caffeine levels are retained in processing, even if flavour and aroma might not have been.