Let’s get it right out there in the open before I even start…I’m a self confirmed coffee snob and proud of it. I’ve tasted the full gamut of coffees ranging from Folgers crystals to same-day roasted whole bean Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee from Oren’s. I can confidently say that when brewed correctly, the later is infinitely better making you forget that you’re even drinking coffee. What? No bitter lingering unpleasant aftertaste to endure? If it’s mellow and flavorful…almost like hot cocoa it can’t possibly be coffee right?
So for me, when I either don’t have my optimal beans on hand or time is of the essence, I stop by Starbuck’s. In my opinion, Starbuck’s has the best national chain coffee and are responsible for raising the bar for coffee quality on a large scale here in the States. There are of course tons of Mom and Pop shops, some of whom are a few shades inferior to Starbucks and others who do it much better as independent roasters. Notice I haven’t mentioned VIA packs yet…Starbuck’s foray into the instant coffee world. Even though it seemed to go against everything that Starbuck’s represented, I put my biases aside and gave them a try during their summer debut. My consensus is that these packs are good under 2 circumstances: You either don’t have anything on hand and it’s 12 midnight or you want to whip up some rather tasty ice coffee without doing it the old fashioned way. However, there is one detraction you can count on, VIA does not have the same caffeine kick as a regular brewed cup of joe.
All this is leading up to a few weeks ago when I was asked to review Nescafe Taster’s Choice packets. I was given an array of flavors
and varieties ranging from Vanilla to French Roast. Nescafe made it obvious in their marketing campaign that they are going head-to-head with Starbucks VIA. Cost and flavor are scrutinized and disputed…. a zero sum game between a company who had been doing instant for years and a conglomerate who staked their fortune on brewing and were now just testing the waters with the powdered variety. From a coffee lover’s standpoint I was thinking, “OK, so show me the flavor. Isn’t that why people abandoned instant coffee in droves to begin with?”
So it was with these thoughts in mind that I broke open a Hazelnut Taster’s Choice packet and poured some boiling water into my mug. I was impressed with how quickly and thoroughly it dissolved into an inviting brew. Starbuck’s VIA packs certainly don’t dissolve so nicely.
Now’s your chance to win some free Taster’s Choice packets along with a colorful mug to spice up the winter doldrums. Just give me your favorite flavor and a short description on how you would prepare it by January 10. The most original comment gets the goods delivered to your doorstep!
Photos courtesy of Steve Mirsky
Review made possible by a sponsored tasting