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September 22, 2009


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I'm going to sprinkle some Via on my Chia Pet to see if I can accelerate its growth.



I am sure I won't be the only party pooper to this (most likely) joking suggestion... but I'd hate to be wrong.

NOTE: Caffeine is deadly to dogs.

There - now back to your regularly scheduled comments.


I'll be promoting it as a way to kick that Cocaine habit, just snort some VIA instead!

me myself and I

I know quite a few dogs that enjoy their regular latte. They are still doing fine and are pretty much alive. Maybe it is in the dose???


The Columbian is great! I will absolutely sell it to people who work and have to share a bad pot of coffee.


I think that both varieties taste terrible, and I'm not looking forward to pushing it to my customers over the coming months.


I'm more excited about Sulawesi Kalosi coming out than Via... I'm just finding it difficult to get excited about instant coffee, even if its good.

...But I see in my area that this product is allowing us to think outside the box, connect with our community, which is a great thing! My store is selling Via at a school event. We've also got a fishbowl (really a glass Mr. Coffee coffee pot) for peoples' business cards, giving them one stick for free, and politely asking for the sale afterwards.

This weekend I'm going to my grandparents' 50th, and I know my aunts LOVE Starbucks dark roasted coffee. They're both airline attendants, so this product is perfect for them when they're at work. I may try to pre-sale some to them.

The taste challenge sounds exciting, too! I have yet to compare Via to Pike Place Roast, so I'm psyched to do the challenge myself. I'll be honest, if I don't get it right I'm going to be very embarrassed!

Countdown: 7 days till Via.


Here is a link to poisonous foods for pets from the ASPCA.


While animals may not show immediate signs of poisoning, they have different systems than humans and build up levels in their bodies. Just because they can drink or eat lattes or products with caffeine and do not suffer immediate symptoms, they are building up levels of toxic chemicals in their body.

The next time they eat the toxic food, it really could be their last. My grandmother's dog Nikita loved chocolate, and in the 60s, there was not a lot of information about food toxicity for pets. One day Nikita ate a Hershey's kiss and died that night because of the high levels of chocolate in her body.

While all dogs are different, please inform yourself about the short-term and long-term effects of the foods you give to your pets before it becomes a habit or treat.


I would definitely drink Via if I were camping. Otherwise, not so much.


we could suggest to all those customers who hate pike place that they can add a packet of via to it for a whole new {terrible} flavor :)


I'm wondering if there's any guesses on how long it takes before it goes on the menu? Decaf should be out within a year, hey?

Jim Romenesko

The price of VIA could easily be cut in half if they reworked the packaging.


I will not suggest it to people who are looking to buy coffee to brew at home... I will, however, suggest it to people who have more active lifestyles or who live or work far from a starbucks and for some reason cannot brew coffee but do have hot water. I expect that to be a grand total of 2 people. At first we may sell it to more people, as there is an excitement, but I believe that will fade, as everything else does. That does not mean that it is a bad product - the columbia is good (italian is not) - just that it is pretty expensive. If it were half the price i would expect to sell an absolute ton of it and prob make more in the end....

Smart Barista

Uhm I am not sure what was missed with the comment about the Chia Pet but it isn't a dog! It is a kitchy (sp?) clay planter that you spread seeds on and grow sprouts...

Dumb Barista

my apologies, it seems my browser didn't upload the 'dog gets energetic with Via". Actually my dog got into a bag of Organic Serena once...ground. She was her regular crazy self. Is Via really coffee?


People, really? This product will completely transform our numbers in the stores who aren't doing so well profit wise. Don't you think the more partners on board, the more sales you'll make in your stores? Come on. Compare and taste test with Maxwell House, or Foldgers instant coffee. Its 100 times better than either. I promote this coffee and this new drive with Starbucks. I think its a good idea especially to target the markets of hikers, campers, people on the go, people who have "terrible coffee" at work and not able to get out to a Starbucks. Give it a chance. You might be suprised....


VIA isn’t a bad product. It’s overpriced and won’t sell like expected (at least not in the US), but it’s not bad. People will buy premium coffee and pay a premium price for it, but I’m not sure if they’ll buy overpriced premium instant coffee. It is instant coffee no matter what planet, state of denial, or phase of dementia Howard lives in. It is instant coffee as much as separation is being fired. God I wish these fools would just stop with the flowery talk and tell the truth for once.

That being said, no matter how I feel about it, I’m being paid to sell this stuff. I will lie, cheat, and steal to do it. That’s what I’m paid for and that’s what my bosses expect of me. It’s not my business what people think of Starbucks or the dopes at the top. I’m just doing what this company wants me to do. It’s not ethical or honest but neither is Starbucks anymore (they’ve proven this time and time again). We’ll get the sales and possibly reach our short term goals, but customers will begin to catch on and then as a company we’ll have a harder and harder time of manipulating them. We’ll begin to lose customers who don’t want to be bullied into purchases or sold a bill of goods. They will tire of the continuous hard sell and move to a more comfortable “third place atmosphere”. On the other hand, they might continue to visit Starbucks locations but just dismiss any solicitation whatsoever, similar to how most of us dismiss phone solicitation.

Keep up the good work Howard. Your company is doing so much better now that you’re back at the helm.

Seattle Slurp

Just follow the recipe and it tasts great; if you deviate then you are going to get a bad cup and complain and hear complaints. BTW aninmals and caffeine are a no-no, but my cat likes red wine....hmmm


If this were to be 15 or 20 packs for $10 instead of the 12 packs, it would fly off the shelves. The columbia is a great product, but it is quite expensive.


@Tanya - completely transform numbers? I think Via is a great product but I don't see that happening. At least not in this economy right now, I think there are too many people who will say “no” to $1.00 per cup instant coffee. A lot of the comments above me are right on. It'll have an initial success but the magic will wear off. But I think it will stick around with perhaps a small loyal following.

As for promoting it, a barista could point out how incredibly versatile it is. You can cook with it, mix it in a Chocolate Vivanno, ice it, use hot water, and mix it with other beverages from Pellegrino bubbly (makes a nice coffee soda! I've tried this but needs a little added classic syrup), to Dry, to alcoholic beverages, so I hear. It wouldn't surprise me to see some sort of single-serve sales of Via eventually in the stores.


I absolutely cannot stomach pushing this crap to customers.

I'm sure there will be customers out there who love it. You're always bound to find some people who will. But personally, I don't like it. It does taste better than any other instant coffee on the market...but it still tastes like instant coffee, and it still sucks.

At our meeting when our manager handed us the two cups I immediately said okay so this is Pike and this is Via. Duh. He was a little perturbed that I ruined his "bombshell" in 2.1 seconds, but hello, this is OBVIOUSLY NOT BREWED COFFEE, and I hate that I'm being told I'm supposed to market it as though no one will be able to tell the difference. Anyone with a taste bud will know. My manager of course tried to play it off as "Oh, well, that's because you're a Coffee Master," but every other partner knew the difference too, so then it changed to "We all know our coffees so well that we can tell the difference but the average customer..." blah blah blah.

In short, yes, it sucks 100% less than any other instant coffee out there...but it still sucks. Being the least-sucky thing out there isn't exactly a point of pride for me...

PS Our DM made us try the Pellegrino/Via concotion and it tasted like I was drinking volcanic ash. It was disgusting in every way possible. One of our shifts made Via cupcakes...and they were delicious. Because they were cupcakes.


While this might be somewhat popular, I seriously doubt it will do anything to dramatically drive higher sales or create a larger customer base.

It's instant coffee.

Starbucks has a reputation (however incorrect it may be) of being expensive. The instant-coffee crowd rarely intersects with the expensive coffee crowd. (The one intersection I can see are the REI folks; they will love this product when they're camping or otherwise being outdoorsy. Maybe. Via may not be considered healthy, so that crowd may nix it, though, regardless of how little "bad" is in it.)

Anyhow, nothing huge here, just another promo-of-the-month, if anything. And, to boot, this has been out in a few markets already (two, right?) and it hasn't done anything transformative there, if I am correct.


if you do not like your job, or do not believe in Starbucks or what we are selling then you should quit. no one is making you stay here. go work somewhere else.

livin' la VIA loca

so can anyone pls tell me the CAFFENINE content in VIA???

i've looked on the sbux website and asked my dm- so far no answer.
is it a secret?

i'd like to know to compare to our brewed offerings and to know when connecting with customers.

i mix my via w/milk & flavored splenda packets (try mocha w/italian via or hazelnut w/columbian via).


"if you do not like your job, or do not believe in Starbucks or what we are selling then you should quit. no one is making you stay here. go work somewhere else."
Posted by: JE | September 22, 2009 at 07:15 PM

We all will as soon as the job market opens up. Then only the stupid and unemployable will be left to be abused by Howard and friends. Oh, and most of the customers will be gone too. Get a life with your VIA and pull your head out of Howards butt, unless your talking to him face to face.


I kinda like how the packaging kinda looks like a cigarette :)

v v v VIA™

Glad to see you all enjoy my vvv VIA™ stories, got back from the meeting with a bunch of samples, went to my favorite BAR and tossed out the promotion to everyone drinking, I had one guy toss some VIA ™ on top of his Jack Daniels, he loved it!!!

I hope we all can promote this for the benefit of the company, after explaining it to everyone at the BAR we all sampled it and most of my patrons enjoyed VIA ™...

P@p™ hilarious

v v v VIA ™

NOTE: Caffeine is deadly to dogs.

There - now back to your regularly scheduled comments.

Posted by: Kate

As crack is to Humans, what's your point??

Everyone needs to indulge once and a while and pets are no different, I sprinkle a bit on like that butter you put on your bread you shouldn't be eating Kate ;)

The Truth

In the San Francisco Bay Area, partners (DMs down) have been told by their RVP & RDOs that not meeting the VIA targets is “Career Limiting”. Now, I do not know about you, this is for sure a Scare Tactic that the RVP is using. What happened to ethics and integrity. So, when VIA goes live, I wonder how many people will loose their jobs or be on “the list” and further more, I wonder how falsely inflated the sales numbers for VIA will be. After all, if I am an employee, I do not want to loose my job or be on a list, so, I will lie, cheat and do what ever it takes to make the RVP look good.


@Smart Barista
@Dumb Barista

There was no confusion with a chia pet. The webmaster wrote about a partner (who commented in the previous open thread) who put VIA on her dog's food.

The warning about coffee for pets is serious and isn't a joke.

@Kate Thanks for bringing it up.

@v v v Via I really hope you don't own pets. 'People' food is already a treat, so why feed your pet something that is in no way healthy or safe for it? Butter is good in small amounts as a quantity of fat and is also a protein and has calcium. Chocolate, grapes, caffeine are all foods that will poison your pet, it's not a treat or an indulgence.

Barista Ben

Some of your areas must really suck. We've been encouraged to beat our sales goal so we can receive money for a fun store holiday party. They said that Ca is a area that orders a lot of via so sales in Ca should be fairly high. The numbers they gave us to sell, in a 7 week period, was something a round $2,000ish i believe. 7 weeks to sell about 160 12 pack boxes to meet our 'goals'. Honestly, I see no problems with my store doubling our goal. I won't lie, cheat, or fake the numbers -- i'll just try and sell the product to customers and inform them about Via.

Personally? I think the stuff is terrible, but I am not paid to like or dislike a product -- only to sell it and make drinks.

If that is a problem for me, then I can always quit and find a different job.


Im in seattle which has had via for months, and i love getting it for my markout to make easy iced coffees on the weekends. My store does about $400 in Via sales a week, without promoting it quite as feverishly as we did at first. A quick anecdote about how we met our via goals on a deadline. My DM made me do a manual purchase of 100 bucks worth over the phone, only to return it a week later when the goal was in the bag. does this type of shell game smell of integrity to you guys? what are we likely to see in the way of rule bending when the stakes get so high?


Webmaster Jim,
How about a thread about the new iPhone payment method being tested in 8 Seattle and 8 Silicon Valley stores. Tried it today at my store that's testing it and its pretty sweet!

Healthy Coffee

I enjoy my healthy coffee every morning without the cost of overpriced lattes.


My store is supposed to sell 53 3 packs a day. I NEED some ideas!

v v v VIA™

'People' food is already a treat
Posted by K

Human food is no different then chocolate is for dogs, they both are not good and can kill the animal. You shouldn't be giving your dogs ANY human food what so ever, and I garnish the food with VIA™ once and a while-my vet knows and told me that it would not hurt my dog if I sprinkle a bit on, and the DOGGIE'S love their JOE in the morning!

I've been breading these animals for a long time and have never had an issue so my dog pound still encourages VIA, as you would put "sprinkles" on an ice cream...

v v v VIA™


We were told that we had a sales goal and that meeting 100% of that goal was unacceptable, we had to meet 200% of the goal. Why not just make the goal twice what our goal is now? Why make it sound like we already aren't doing a good enough job before we even start?

me myself and I

Umm, compare it with Maxwell House or Folgers???? Yes, of course it will stand out against those two (and other instant coffees), but a regular Starbucks customer wouldn't go anywhere near one of those. So why should he try to drink something that gets compared to it? The typical Starbucks customer is there for real coffee, one of the not so coffee drinks or because for some reason he thinks it's cool to have a "Starbucks". I've never heard of a customer saying: "Oh man, my Folgers sucked this morning, I just need a quick coffee that sucks less"

I do like the VIA. But I would probably consume three to five of them a year. That can hardly be a success for Starbucks.
I really think they should have saved their in store promo money and should have set up tastings and promos in grocery stores, next to the instant coffee aisle. This way they would really reach out to NEW customers. The ones they are actually targeting, the instant coffee drinkers.

The Truth

“aeiou”, I will tell you why the goals and % are set this way. 1) RVPs want to look good and they want to show how much “over” they are able to kill or beat the targets, so this is why artificial goals are set at 200% vs 100%. 2) Sbux wants to show Wall Street and the public that VIA is such a great product that it is beating the projected goals. BUT, Wall Street does not know that the 100% target was set for Wall Street people and the 200% was set for internal use. The bottom line is that Sbux is going against its own guiding principles of Ethics & Integrity. Sbux is threating jobs and every possible way to make this “look” like it is a success. Do not listen to the hype, it is a conspiracy.

disappointed as always

I tried both varieties of Via, and I hate them. They are both very thin bodied, have sharp acidic taste and smell of nothing.

Maybe it makes buisness sense for starbucks to manufacture instant coffee for the market of people that drink it, but it shouldnt be sold in cafes it's completely at odds with our mission statement.

This is the only product they have ever introduced which they are not even claiming is excellent, just that its good enough under the right circumstances.

Karl Dahlquist

Our store manager has been trying to sell this VIA garbage to anyone who will listen. She even did a cupping for a couple of our employees last week, comparing VIA to Pikes Place Blend.

Everyone agreed that they did taste similar in quality...but as I said,

"That is sort of a low benchmark, don't you think?"

We have several Gold Card employees, who go to Starbucks every day to buy espresso drinks, we go though a pound of beans every 4 days at work...but not one of us likes VIA.


Any partner who's been around the block at the Bux recognizes the VIA marketing scheme as yet another over-hyped ploy to suck $$$ from gullible consumers. Does anybody remember the balloons from the Warming launch? Or those damned t-shirts that NEVER fit for that God-awful Sorbetto or the joke we refer to as Vivanno? The protein vanilla latte faded away into Land of Misfit & Disgusting Sbux products....
The upper-management expectations (especially at that price point) are unrealistic and you should expect even more unscrupulous tactics from the RM's and down in their desperation to fufill said expectations.
As for me, I'm going to use my remaining stash of Via for some tiramisu--and I'll try not to share with my pet!


"That being said, no matter how I feel about it, I’m being paid to sell this stuff. I will lie, cheat, and steal to do it. That’s what I’m paid for and that’s what my bosses expect of me. "

Actually, no. Your job is to work in the store and prepare drinks and clean.

Last I checked, we weren't in the marketing dept.


I add Via to my diet shake...it improves the flavor, I also liked it when I added it to my instant hot chocolate last week when camping, it provided a very low calorie pick me up and almost as tasty as a cafe mocha


The Truth: That's kind of what I was thinking, that it would make via look better because we got whatever % over the goals when in reality, our goal is twice what the written goal is.
It's hard to muster enthusiasm for this promotion. It kind of makes me feel weird that whatever promotion I do for via has an impact on the future of my manager's job, though...


I actually really like it with cold milk as a latte of sorts...but as a plain coffee, enh. There are cheaper, and much better, options available at Sbux.


Customer reactions in my store have been incredibly enthusiastic almost across the board. We've been giving samples to customer who order coffee, describing it only as "our new coffee," and they all love it. When we tell them it's instant, they wanted to buy it already.

This is probably going to be a hit. All of the people worried about having to "lie, steal, and cheat" to sell it (whatever that means), stop worrying. It's going to sell itself. It's a good product.

linda sulawesi

get your skin in the game...via can help us to continue growing...im sick of you complainers...seriously buy your program or leave the show...1000 people just lost their jobs here today...try being grateful for a job and paycheck!!!


Starbucks already has good products, we don’t need VIA. If it has to be available at all it should only be sold in grocery stores. What Starbucks really needs is different management. Howard and the board have singlehandedly brought this company to their knees. They were probably the only group of Americans grateful for the recession. At least then they had something to blame the company’s downfall on other than their poor leadership and asinine promotions. If you remember correctly the company had been in trouble for at least a full year before the recession began. That’s when all the talk of “accountability” came out big from the top levels down to the stores. When the recession started then the company blamed everything on that. What nerve, pointing at us and screaming accountability. What a bunch of lying creeps.

Now they expect all of us to sell this stuff. I mean full hard sales-selling. At our VIA meeting we even discussed “closing the sale” and “handling rejection”. First our customers have to put up with PPR, and then longer wait time as a result of labor cuts, now hard sales. Why would anyone come to a Starbucks now? Possibly it’s still a habit to stop in but that will change when people find out it’s not an enjoyable experience anymore. People will tire of Starbucks manipulative tactics. Most partners have and it’s just a matter of time before customers will too.

So go ahead and be cheerleaders for a company that has no more clue of how to do business post recession than they did pre-recession. Nothing has changed and management is too arrogant to notice they are the problem. You can put lipstick on a pig but that’s not going to enable us to pimp it out. We can all be as unrealistic as our illustrious leaders, or we can get ready for more store closures, layoffs, and hard times. Partners will lose jobs and it’s thanks to dishonest, inept, and unrealistic management not the realistic cries of partners who know what’s happening. I’m sorry if you corporate cheerleaders don’t want to hear the truth, but fantasy is only fun to live in until it comes to a crashing end.

VIA will sell because it’s OK. Sales won’t be anywhere near the unrealistic levels hoped for. Starbucks didn’t hire sales people they hired service people. Both groups are not interchangeable. However, I wish you all luck to reach those goals. If you do my stock options will be more valuable. If you don’t, I won’t be surprised and I’ll be more prepared to handle the results.


So many negative naysayers!
It works as an espresso substitute very well. Tomorrow take a columbia packet and stir it in steamed milk with mocha (use a grande size cup, tall if you're an extra shot kind of a person). We taste challanged this at our Via meeting and out of 30 people, 16 picked the via mocha over the real one.

There are lots of times where this is relevant. I'm going on vacation and will not be near a bucks. I'd much rather have the via than the hotel coffee. Today a regular was in meetings and was going to skip his mid day. I gave him 2 packets of via and a grande cold cup. He came back later in the day and loved it. Did he prefer the real iced coffee in this case? Yes... but when he couldn't have that, it WAS a great fit.

I do agree on pricing though. A pound of whole bean yeilds what, 36 cups for $10-$14 vs 12 cups for $10. They really need to almost DOUBLE the pack sizes. That is the ONLY negative I can really think of. And it has a 75% profit margin.... but as far as it's relevance, its a great idea.

With all the incentives I'm offering to my team in addition to regional and national, there's a lot of reasons to be motivated to sell teh via. And really its great shaken in a vanilla or chocolate milk!

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