Free Starbucks Via Coffee

We like this one a lot. Starbucks has just unveiled a new and ambitious –and possibly risky—business strategy with the launch of its new “Via” instant coffee line. That’s right. Instant coffee. As in the Sanka or Nescafe type. The kind of coffee that usually belongs in a college dorm room and which, well, doesn’t usually live up to the normal, brewed cup. Starbucks’ new Via instant coffee, which was test launched earlier this year in Seattle, Chicago, London and a few other US cities, comes in small packets. You simply dissolve them in some hot water and, presto, you have a pretty decent cup of coffee. How do I know this? Because I actually grabbed some packets this past spring and tried them.

This is a huge promotion for Starbucks. They have launched a splashy campaign, with CEO Howard Schultz touting the new product with all the multimedia glitz of an Apple IPod unveiling. With a Starbucks channel on YouTube, the company even put together a video travelogue of sorts introducing the new Via coffee to many coffee drinkers across the country.  Finally, in a first for the company, it is also running a national TV campaign.

Indeed, Starbucks is so willing to bet that you won’t know the difference between a hot cup of their new instant coffee and their own brewed coffee. Starting this Friday, October 2 and running through next Monday, October 5, go into any Starbucks around the country and take the Via (that’s the name) Taste Challenge.

They will brew you a cup of the instant stuff, which, for your information is the Colombian blend (the packets also come in Italian Roast), and then serve you a taste of their excellent Pike Peak Roast brewed coffee. You will decide. And for your efforts in helping them roll out this product, Starbucks is giving you a coupon for a free brewed coffee and a $1 off coupon off the new Via instant coffee packets. Via will not only be sold at Starbucks stores; they will be available at retailers like Costco and Target. Packets of 3 will retail for $2.95 while packets of 12 will cost $9.95

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