Product Reviews

Starbucks VIA Pumpkin Spice Instant Coffee Review

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Reason For Use:

After a long day of shopping at Vintage Fair Mall (in Modesto CA), Ryan and I weren’t looking forward to the hour-long drive home. We decided to hit the 24 hour Starbucks drive-thru off of Sisk to caffeinate ourselves before hitting the road. There, at the pick-up window, I came face-to-face with Starbucks VIA Pumpkin Spice Instant Coffee for the first time.

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At first, I had mixed emotions. “Pumpkin Spice” happens to be my favorite seasonal flavor at Starbucks…but my past experience with instant coffee was less than special. In fact, if asked wether or not I like instant coffee, I’d probably respond with a gagging sound. Granted, I’d never tried Starbucks instant coffee though. And it WAS Pumpkin Spice…

“Is that stuff any good?” I asked the barista at the window.

“I’ve never tried it myself, but we have customers who buy out entire shipments when it comes in so they can stock up.”

Really?! How could I say no to THAT?! And the price was right too: At a little over $1 per cup of coffee, it was definitely cheaper than a Pumpkin Spice ANYTHING at the actual Starbucks locations. I dropped my cash and drove away with our coffees and a 5-pack of VIA Pumpkin Spice Instant Coffee.

The Product:

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Inside the box there should be five single-serving pouches of instant coffee. Unfortunately, I only had TWO pouches in my box! And yes: I was extremely disappointed. I jumped on the internet and sent an E-mail through Starbucksvia.com, as follows:

“My husband and I stopped by your Modesto location (off of Sisk and Dale) on Wednesday night to hit the drive thru before our hour-long drive home to Dos Palos (after a long day of shopping at Vintage Fair Mall). While I was waiting for my drinks at the window, the barista (who was extremely pleasant and had wonderful customer service skills!) convinced me that purchasing a 5 pack of Via Pumpkin Spice would be worthwile after I had admired the package sitting on the ledge of the pickup window. I declined the reciept but I remember the price was very fair for five cups of Starbucks coffee, around $6-$7…until tonight. We decided to break into our new Via and enjoy some pumpkin spice coffee while entertaining my in-laws. We had a hot fire burning in the fireplace and were telling stories while it was pouring rain outside, so a little Pumpkin Spice would’ve been perfect!…except that we only found TWO PACKS inside the “Five Pack” package!! We were SO dissapointed!!! It was our first experiencing trying Via or buying anything besides drinks at a Starbucks location and I can’t help but feel that we were ripped off. To add insult to injury, the two packs that we DID recieve were delicious! I would honestly consider stocking up and trying the other flavors…but I can’t afford to spend money on nothing. Please consider a policy in your stores that prevents merchandise that will be sold from being left on the drive-thru window ledge where it can obviously be compromised. Maybe only use empty display packages out there?”

…and that pretty much sums up my mistake: buying something off a window ledge that was obviously stripped of three single-serving pouches by dishonest customers. Not cool people!!! I was extremely doubtful that I’d get any kind of response, so imagine my surprise when this message showed up in my E-mail inbox a few days later:

“Hi Ann,
Let me start off by thanking you for your patience while waiting for a response.
I’m sorry about the recent experience you had with our Starbucks Via Pumpkin Spice 5-Pack. I want to be sure to make this up to you, so I’m sending your a coupon for a free 8-Count VIA option of your choice. Please allow 7 to 12 business days for it to arrive in the mail.
Thanks again for writing us. If you ever have any questions or concerns in the future, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
We would love to hear your feedback. Click here to take a short survey.
Sincerely,
Kristopher W
customer service”

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…I still haven’t received the coupon but I have no doubt that it’s on it’s way. I’m pleasantly surprised by the quick response though, and Starbucks’ willingness to help. I’ll keep you updated when the coupon arrives.

Instructions:

I’m a huge fan of simple instructions, so I was thrilled by the caveman-quality picture instructions printed on each pouch:

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It’s not rocket science!

1. Heat up 8 oz of milk.
2. Pour VIA instant coffee into mug.
3. Pour hot milk into mug.
4. Stir until blended.

Being a mom with two crazy kids who was trying to make dinner while testing out this much-needed coffee, I instead opted to nuke the milk in my Pikes Place Market Starbucks mug (home of the original Starbucks! Yep. I’ve been there!) and dump the instant coffee into the mug of hot milk, then stir. It worked just fine, without dirtying an extra cup.

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Being just days after Thanksgiving, we still had loads of whip cream leftover from the pumpkin pie. I decided that to *properly* test a product that was designed to “instantly” simulate a fancy flavored barista-made drink, it would be more accurate to serve it with whip cream.

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…Yep. It had *nothing* to do with my unhealthy addiction to whip cream.

Results:

Delicious! I’ll admit that the actual coffee content is much less (or at least not as dark) as I would’ve brewed myself and the caffein level is far from a latte (if existent at all), but the Pumpkin Spice flavor was right on the mark. The drink was also unexpectedly creamy (before I added the whip cream!) which I credit to the fact that it’s made with hot milk instead of the hot water that most instant coffee requires. In fact, if I hadn’t made it myself, I wouldn’t have guessed that it’s instant coffee at all. I wouldn’t rely on it for a caffein blast, but it’s leaps and bounds better than a mug of hot cocoa when you want something steaming hot to drink while you snuggle by the fire… or just need an acceptable alternative to a $6 froo-froo fancy latte craving!

Final Overview:

Price: $6.95
Place of purchase: Starbucks
Ease of use: 9 out of 10
Flavor: 9 out of 10
Buy again?
If the coupon arrives (as promised) to make up for the missing servings, then definitely yes. A convenient, delicious treat to keep in the pantry.

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That’s my “HOLY CRAP! THIS STUFF IS GOOD!!!” face. And yes, my hair always looks that nice while cooking dinner and chasing two kids.

UPDATE:

I received a letter of apology from Starbucks today, accompanied by the coupon I was promised for a free box of VIA in the flavor of my choice. I’m very pleased with the honesty, professionalism and fabulous customer service skills demonstrated by Starbucks. I look forward to cashing my coupon in for a new flavor…and possibly writing another review! 😉

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2 thoughts on “Starbucks VIA Pumpkin Spice Instant Coffee Review

  1. Ann- when I do my FAST events for the Red Cross I always bring a few packs of both the hot and cold VIA packs. They are handy and great to have when doing the events since some day we get 0-1 patients and others we get a few hundred… and well simply put I just love my coffee in general!!! I have had the caramel and the original both are yummy!!! Also glad to hear that they address the situation so well!! Hope you enjoy more yummy flavors soon!!
    Racheal

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