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March 03, 2009


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Good morning people! I wasn't aware that Starbuck would combine not just regular drip coffee, but also VIA, with sandwiches. Sounds quite hilarious to me.

arabica bean

No 'value meal' to be launched in Canada. We're still going to promote the pairings on the 24th, but there won't be any special pricing. I completed the set-up for Spring 1 last night and it seemed like a waste of time: no new merchandise, no real changes to the menu board (just a different font and tea lattes are no longer the feature), I really just shuffled around the merch that was there already.


unless you're in chicago or seattle, you're not going to see much about VIA today. i've got class today, but i'm curious to see tomorrow when i open the store what kind of response the pairings and VIA will get from my morning regulars...

although i must say, some of the ads i've seen plastered on the redline here in chicago for VIA remind me a lot of the ads for ipod and such...visually appealing, quirky, though just unambiguous enough to make you curious...

but i digress. haven't seen much hype yet, but i'll be sure to report tomorrow after my shift on the mayhem that i'm absolutely sure will ensue over the pairing issue/just say yes/VIA mockery.

Barista Montag

I decided try one of those artisan sandwiches today at a Sbux in Harlem. I was impressed that it tasted quite delicious. So much better than that Waffle thing DD is pushing.

Consider that it does taste pretty good and that you do save some cash, this promo might actually do really well with customers (unlike that "I'm in" thing which left as quickly as it came). I'm kind of curious how the regulars at my store are reacting to it. ^^


I went in and had my breakfast pairing of tall coffee and sausage sandwich. Quite delicious as always. And then I made a point of getting a refill of coffee. With a Starbucks registered card you can either save 50 cents for the refill in my market or with a Starbucks Gold Card, you can get 40 cents off. Bring in a personal mug and you can get another 10 cents off. I think that if you did this, you could get a free breakfast pairing after only 4 purchases. Thats a pretty good deal if you ask me. Buy 4 and get the 5th one free.
Now who's being cheap?


"Executives struggling to reverse the company’s recent revenue decline also play down the difficulty of the balancing act between value and prestige. “If we are a premium brand, it doesn’t mean we can’t provide value,” said Howard Schultz, the chief executive."

Yup, Howie - preformed sammies and instant coffee will go a looooooong way to selling that "premium brand!"


I think Starbucks is starting to look more like Old Navy when it should be like Lacoste.

And another, thing they're not value meals, they're breakfast pairings.


It is funny to see the despiration in Starbucks management.

They couldn't find their butts if there was a bell tied to it.


I am a store manager and have tried the new sandwiches and VIA. The sandwiches taste great and we are having great response to them as well as the new pairings. I thought VIA was OK. It isn't something I would drink regularly, but certainly would take it camping or on a road trip in favor of gas station coffee. The pairings are a great value for our customers! To all you VIA naysayers out there.....if you don't like it, don't buy it and please stop pontificating about it! If Via helps increase my sales and profitability therefore increasing the amount of labor hours I can give my partners, I plan on knocking it out of the park!!!


Just an annoying customer here...

I just got back from my local Starbucks, and there was Via stuff all over the place. I noticed it comes in a little packet, and wondered why they aren't handing out samples to get people to try the stuff. I don't want to pay $2.95 for a 3 pack and find out I hate it.


Spot on, Boston. It reminds me more of the problems Gap has been having with breaking away from their old base, turning over clothing designs too quickly and depending on gimmicky fashions. As a result, their brand lost a great deal of value. I don't think this is a question of offering lower priced quality goods a la Target, but a mismanagement of branding.


Juat another annoying customer here, too, Mr. Manager: How many people camp with instant coffee?! The BEAUTY of camping is campfire coffee!!!

My guess, Patrick, is that they don't want to water down the brand buying giving away Via INSTANT coffee samples at the counter. That way, you could DIRECTLY taste the difference. And avoid it like the plague.



most stores have been handing out individual packets for at least a week. for my store, it's been a necessary talking point at the register.

my advice, just ASK for a sample, we don't bite and we're more than happy to give you a sample of a product, especially one that's just launched; i'd like to know what store it is that's holding out on you.


Stores will be receiving samples of Via for the specific purpose of handing them out to customers in traditional "Surprise and Delight" fashion. I've already handed out a few myself, especially to the cops who work overnight 12 hour shifts.


@anom - VIA is not part of the pairings. Just happen to share the same launch day. Though VIA is only in Chicago and Seattle today, pairings in all US markets.


Via is not launching in my area until fall. We tried it at our once-a-quarter staff meeting, though. The Colombia is absolutely tragic. I thought that the Italian roast was better than regular brewed Italian roast. But I hate Italian roast anyway. I'm just not into that carbon taste.


I think the Columbian is the best instant coffee I've ever had. I'm buying it for storm days (no electricity).

Jen Neill

hey! I'm an ASM here in Seattle and I want to know "where do you via?" check out my blog at wheredoyouvia.blogspot.com

Send me a picture of how and where you enjoy your delicious Via!



I am in the Chicago market. We launched both the VIA and the breakfast pairings today. The response to the VIA was fantastic, lots of enthusism. And we WERE handing out sample packs of it to every customer in the cafe and drive. The new breakfast sandwiches were also a hit, however we did not sell any pairings.


I went to get a ($5.75) sandwich and ($4+) latte at my local Starbucks this morning. The staff were excited about the new breakfast pairings and tried very hard to downsell me to the coffee-and-oatmeal deal.

Via Lost Wages


Dear SM;

Vai sales might help the profitability of your store (if enough of it sells to justify stocking it). However, being that it isn't a labor intensive item, knowing sbux, they will reward you with little or no labor compensation. It's not worth the effort to promote it at at a sbux store. It would make more sence to put it in grocery stores where it belongs, but then you wouldn't get additional labor for those sales.

Oh, I guess the labor issue doesn't hold water (unlike Via).


$2.95 for 3 packets of instant coffee is absolutely insane. I still can't get over the price. We're not selling it yet in my store, but I would love to hear from the other stores and see if any customers are talking back about the price.


Jen Neill: You have a little brown spot on your nose there...must be the via.

back Again

oh Starbucks... you make me chuckle. with your bland, oops excuse me, "exciting!" new product launches.

i've said it before and i'll say it again, starbucks is a sinking ship in the sea of successful companies.

oh so glad i was thrown overboard.


It is ridiculous how Starbucks is following the same failed plan that it instituted in the US a decade ago. We get none of the deals to promote business (no oatmeal, no VIA, no value meal, no breakfast sandwichs, period...) and they are using rapid expansion. the canadian market is gonna fall into the same problem the US now faces.


"It is funny to see the despiration in Starbucks management.

They couldn't find their butts if there was a bell tied to it."

Lol, I think it is this, as well as a little bit of economic desperation


@NorCalBlend - Brown spots might save ppl their job these days. Just saying.


A Starbucks value combo. VIA instant coffee and oatmeal.

Now that is the new Starbucks image.

Via Lost Wages


Don't forget, it's "instant" oatmeal too.


No Vegetarian sandwich pairings...

Sbuxs should have at least 1 Vegetarian and 1 vegan sandwich option for the pairings.


It's begining to look like all you need to open your own Starbucks is some hot water. Unless you want to be really authentic, and then you'd need the three Stooges to run the show.


I am really tired of all the negativity on here. Yes, there have been changes, yes people have lost their jobs. Please find me a company as large as Starbucks that has not had the same issues in this economic environment. There are still some of us who are proud to put on the green apron, and give legendary service to each and every customer everyday!


I confess I like Via. *runsandhidesinshame*

There was a Gold Card coupon (I assume it went to all Gold Card holders) which was essentially buy one packet of 3 and get a 2nd packet free, but it was confusingly worded. I assume that helped sales today. ??

Okay though am I the only that sees an odd resemblance to Vivanno advertising? I saw the in-store launch stuff, and thought, "Wonder if Karate Man carries has got his Via with him too?". I half expected the promotional materials to say 'How great days are made ... in an Instant!' ;-)


Value meal:

why cant you substitute blueberry coffee cake for cinnimon???


I think they need better choices for the tall latte pairing. Will they be changing up the choices or will it always be just the nasty oatmeal or coffee cake? I didn't think the pairing display signs looked tacky or anything, at least some people will save money, although I would rather see lattes costing a little less than only getting a deal if you buy food with your latte.

would you like to know?


I realize that negativity is not always helpful and that some partners still want to be proud to work for Starbucks. So do I. I've been a partner for years. I've loved this company and beleived they stood behind me and other partners. I do love the coffee products (I'm not much of a tea drinker). However, in the last three years I've seen some outragious behavior from upper management and senior management. They have proven to me that the companies charrished guiding principles, that meant so much to me and other partners, meant nothing to them.

Dignaty and respect...my butt. Their idea of this is to insult my intellegence and then to lie to me. These people (DM's & above) don't deserve to wear the green apron (not that they'd know what to do in it if they put one on).

I've seen great partners with great abilities turned away from promotions so this company could hire from the outside. I've seen great partners get fead up with the bull poop and finally quit in frustration. I've seen great partners who gave their all for this company used up and then spit out for very little reason by being fired. I've seen this company do things that appear to be charitable only to find out they weren't. I've seen partners with real needs turned down for cup fund grants and been left out in the cold by this company. I've seen people who didn't kiss the right butt "managed out" and fired.

This doesn't just happen in my store or district, it happens everywhere. I'm privledged to work in a great store with a great SM and other partners. We have a great team until you look higher. Then you see a crazy DM that runs everything into the ground. My DM is a fear based, micro managing, control freak that is loved by a RD that shares similar qualities. Both produce more chaos then they do proffits. Our Store would run better if these bozos would just stay in their cubicals at the regional office and leave us alone.

Am I bitter? Sure I am. I fell in love with this company because of what I was told it stood for. I was lied to. This company was presented to me as much more then it turned out to be. Why don't I quit? Well it's a bit more complicated than that especially in todays job market. I need the insurance too.

So I guess I'll just sit here and have a bit of fun at Starbucks expence. I feel I'm entitled. I also do it in the name of so many fallen partners that never had a chance to find out what hit them when the speeding bus called starbucks mowed them over.

p.s. I change my name frequently to protect my identity because Starbucks managment moniters this site.


iwantblue, because the RFCINN is cheaper. but if you ask, we're supposed to say 'of course we can, for an additional $0.80!

the meals didn't sell greatly today, i think i'll try again the next time i work by calling them value meals. it will cheapen our image, but i'm sure it will flow better in drive thru instead of offering one of our new pairings.


iwantblue, you can substitute RFBLU for RFCIN. RFCIN is just cheaper. we're supposed to say 'of course youcan substitute RFBLU, for an additional $0.80!'

the meals didn't sell well today. i think i'll call them value meals from now on though. people know that. it may cheapen our image, but it's easier than asking 'would you like to try one of our new pairings today?' lol

Via Lost Wages


Great post "would you like to know?"

I've had similare experiences.


Ananasosaur - Read your material. What part of no substitutions plastered throughout the literature did you not understand? Of course they can get a RFBLU instead of RFCIN, it just won't be a pairing anymore. It will be a latte and a piece of RFBLU coffee cake.


Stickler - I think that's what Ananasosaur meant by "for an additional $0.80!".

would you like to know? - I feel your greif. It sucks and I'm with you. Sometimes this company is just toxic.

On a possitive note, I'm glad the company alows us to change the size of the latte and add flavors. This type of foresight isn't usually present in new offerings or products they come up with.


@jacknjill -- great point you bring up at the end of your post. In my store today we actually posted the prices for the pairings at grande and venti sizes -- the cinnamon swirl and oatmeal are both an additional $1.34 (compared to $2.06 and $2.69 stand alone) and the sandwiches are all an additional $2.46 (compared to $3.60 for the new artisans and $2.95 for the sausage and reduced fat turkey stand alone)...don't quote me exactly on those prices but you get the point...it's an easy sell for all your customers who order any type of hot latte, iced latte, or drip coffee, and can actually give you an advantage in average ticket if you approach it from this angle...the tall deals are a great bargain for our customers, the grande and venti deals (with or without modifiers) are a way to earn average ticket while still giving our customers a good deal. The same price differential for each of the two beverage deals is interesting...I think customers will respond to knowing that they save over a dollar off the regular price of a stand-alone oatmeal or artisan sandwich!


Canadian Sbux are always the last to roll out the new features. No Via up here. No Value meals…not yet.

I am fascinated with Via just out of curiosity and want to try it. I would always prefer drip (or Press or Clover) for the aesthetics of the item. However the Process Manager in me sees huge potential for Via and Sbux in their store processes.

Single choice Drip coming to Canada? A disturbing thing I noticed at one of my Toronto Sbux today is the added promotional visuals on PPB. The effect of the 360 degree plug of Pikes everywhere in this store was a complete de-emphasis on the Bold drip (which was brewed nonetheless). Does this foreshadow a single drip policy in Toronto Sbux (like I have heard they have done in some stores in the US)? Are Sbux Canada stores seriously considering loosing the Bold drip in their stores? Just asking in a bemused fashion….

I personally don’t like PPB – but won’t rant about it – it is a taste preference thing. I prefer my smokey and (as another Sbux blogger put it) “carbon tasting” Bold. I have been disappointed the Toronto Sbux have ceased featuring French, Italian and other very dark roasts. Sbux Bold is down to “Casi” which I consider barely-Bold and Sumatra (which I like). Verona (which I really like) is rarely featured any more. If Sbux looses the Bold then I’m outta there as a customer. There is a Second Cup down the street plus countless Indies (which is where I get my real Espressos anyhow).



Starbucks is even starting to make McDonalds look good.


just someone

Is it really that hard to figure out why you can not substitute blue- for cinnamon coffeecake?

In order to offer breakfast pairings at a discounted price SBUX has to commit to buying large amounts from their suppliers (and sign contracts for this and stuff). Therefor they will give the BUX a discount on the delivery price. Cinnamon is currently being bought by the thousands/millions (?) blueberry isnt. I am sure that they research the most popular one .. seems pretty straight forward to me. Simple market mechanics!


blueberry coffee cake cost of goods is significantly more per slice than the rfcin.

Via Lost Wages

@just someone -

Perhaps I'm being cynical, but could it really be that RFCIN is the cheapest coffee cake. Come on, they better hope it's not a hit or we'll run out like everything else. Need I remind you of the salt for SCSHC. We can't even get cups delivered to our store sometimes. The only thing we never ran out of was chantico, and that's just because they turned it into SHC.


In southern Illinois my local licensed store is one of only 3 licensed stores in the country to get VIA. It is selling well. I have purchased both the Columbian & French Roast. I was given samples several weeks ago by Matt @ MSI. I was skeptical but those samples made me eat my words. It is very good. In my store they have a travel mug to go with the VIA. It has little pockets in it to store the sleeves of VIA. We do not have the "Value Meals" and I do not expect them because we do not have sandwiches, only pastry. My store is also handing out samples of VIA but this just started yesterday.



isnt blueberry + cinnimon coffee cakes the same price?!



You’re confusing "price" with "cost" - While they may sell for the same PRICE, it probably COSTS Starbucks less for the cinnamon.

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