Starbucks VIA instant coffee taste test


Starbucks recently introduced a new line of instant coffee that they claim is as good as their regular ground coffee. To prove it, they are conducting blind taste tests in store head-to-head with their Pike’s Peak blend to show customers that it can stand up to the most discerning coffee palate.

So yesterday when I was in Starbucks for a meeting, I stepped up to the plate – would I be able to tell the difference? The pressure mounted as the server poured both samples into the small cups. As I tasted both the reality set in – I haven’t had instant coffee in over 20 years! It took Starbucks’ claim that their instant coffee was significantly better than what was on the market to at least get me to try. They claim:

“The magic is in a proprietary, all-natural process that we spent years perfecting. We microgrind the coffee in a way that preserves all of their essential oils and flavor. No other coffee company takes this step, and it makes all the difference.”

I confess that I had seen this statement before I took the test: in fact, without seeing that they were doing something different, I probably would never have even bothered to try it. But I saw numerous posts on it on Twitter so I decided to see if the claims were true.

But what got me thinking was why Starbucks would even bother? For the past 20 years they have been trying to get us into the store for an “experience” centered around premium priced drinks. Does instant give them additional credibility in the home/office or does it take away from the experience they are trying to create in the store? I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on this new direction!

By the way, I was able to pick out the instant. It tasted pretty good almost like french press coffee but will I be buying a package? Probably not, when it only takes me a minute more to make a good pot of coffee using the press.

Posted in customer needs and tagged , , .

One Comment

  1. Starbucks for a while became an aspirational brand. Premium coffee is, after all, a lifestyle purchase. The ability to buy a $5 coffee became a simple means of instant admission to the ‘in’ crowd of internet-bubble ‘Long Now’ nouveau-stock-option-riche post yuppies.

    sigh. that was so long ago. as evidenced by this latest evidence that somehow starbucks thinks that they were somehow, the whole time, selling coffee, and that reigniting their success means finding a way back to ‘their’ roots.

    Hey Starbucks, wake up. you gave us a place to camp and look cool. you were a real estate play with appropriate locations and refreshments. if you want to reignite your success, find a way to make hanging out there say something positive about our current self-image of unemployed losers who really can’t afford a $5 chai every morning if it means the kids can’t go to dance class.

    I can see how someone in product development somewhere in there seems to think that if instant coffee sales go up during a depression..uh, recession, that you need a brand bridge through that till things lighten up again. This is strategically a lose for one simple reason: it’s all about you.

    make it about us again, or die.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *