Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Juan Valdez Why Have you Forsaken Us?

The other day I was revving for another crazy-ass day of juggling that has become my life. I was in dire need of a coffee fix, and being at Shane's apartment, there was not a French press or coffee maker in sight. Having anticipated that such a day would come, I had bought a small jar of Folger's Instant Coffee.

I have never had instant coffee before. My introduction to coffee consisted of clandestine ventures to local coffee houses and midnight runs to 7-11 (which has better coffee than one would think).

I stirred in the brown flakes and watched with concern as it developed into a murky mess that looked nothing like my familiar deep brown bean brine (I guess I am feeling alliterative today). I doctored it with soy milk and some flavored simple syrup (because apparently my boyfriend doesn't believe in keeping household staples like sugar around) and took a tentative sip. I managed two more before I spat it out and gave up in disgust. I have had coffee at truck stops, convenience stores, and even Denny's, and I have NEVER had SOUR coffee. It was like a different drink altogether.

There goes $3.50 down the drain. I will never have Folger's Instant again.

Later on that night, Claudia and I were perusing Bloomingdale's post gelato when we came upon these charming coffee cups:

I want one for my desk! . . . that is when I have a desk . . . that I am paid to sit at.

They're only like $8, too, which is pretty sweet. And, then, that is when I heard the horrific news: Starbucks has decided to release a new line of instant coffee called VIA!

My first reaction was dismay and then a keen sense of betrayal.

Why? Would they do this? Why would Starbucks want me to suffer with this sour slop people call instant "coffee"?

I went home and did some research, and apparently the taste is not as reprehensible as Folger's special blend, but still I am not sure if this is really the best move. Especially I am concerned about these individual serving plastic packets on the go. It seems to contribute to packaging waste and if I am on the go, there is a Starbucks on my way to wherever I am going anyway! Okay, that last part was a joke.

Still, I raise the question everyone else does: how can the company who brought coffee snobbery to the American consciousness become the purveyor of powdered instant coffee?

I am not saying it is not possible, but I think "who" Starbucks is, is being compromised. I had just gotten excited about learning about their Clover-brewed coffee, which is supposed to be a whole new level of premium.

So how can you convince me that it is worth going into your store, where I can get the best-brewed coffee possible, and then tell me I can get comparable flavor from a packet of powder? They're going to have to choose whether they want to stand as sophisticated keepers of great coffee or populist purveyors of joe. I think judging from Starbuck's announced plans to produce a value menu, I think we all know which way they are going.

At least I can still get an over priced (yet incredibly delicious) cup of coffee at my local Blue Bottle, where my friend, Jade, and I recently enjoyed their venerable siphon pot coffee. It looks like a science experiment and tastes so rich and buttery and flavorful, no sugar or cream needed (seriously, why would you ruin this coffee with stuff?). Sigh. Maybe some day I can afford 20K for their coffee "system". And a stout Norwegian named Agnar to keep it going at all times.

1 comment:

Natalia said...

I LOVE the brown mugs!