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Starbucks VIA Ready Brew

rated 4.5 of 5 stars
photo: Starbucks VIA Ready Brew coffee

I'm a recovering coffee snob who, in previous years, would have rather drank mud from a puddle than instant coffee of any brand. Those days are over.


  • Miniscule packing size
  • Not hideously expensive
  • Tastes great!

Alright, I'll admit it. I'm a coffee snob. My grounds of choice come from Peet's Coffee, and I take great pride in brewing a full-bodied cuppa Joe, whether I'm at home or out in the wilderness.

Over the years I've used espresso makers for backpacking, drip filter holders of all shapes and sizes, the Aero Press system (still a great way to brew, BTW) and good old Cowboy coffee. I will also admit to an aversion to anything from Starbuck's. All of that has changed since I tried the Via instant coffees. 

My youngest daughter brought some home one evening, and hounded me for an hour to give one of them a go, and I did so just to get her to ease up. I'm glad I did!  This stuff, while not as rich and full-bodied as a good cup of home brew, is pretty damned close, and it comes in the smallest, easiest-to-pack setup available.  Genius! 

My camping coffee kit now consists of about 1/10th of what it did 6 months ago, and that can only be a good thing. My wife and I are taking a 3-week,  6,000-mile motorcycle trip this summer, and we'll camp for at least two of those weeks. Space will be at a premium, and the Starbuck's Via has just given me a nice little chunk to work with. 

There are few pleasures in life greater than watching the sun rise over glorious mountain peaks on a cold morning while sipping a steaming hot cup of ebony goodness.  Makes me smile just to think about it!

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $7.95 for 12 packets

These are tiny and pack very light. They make a nice strong cup of coffee.


  • The coffee is strong.
  • They are convenient.
  • They make a full cup of coffee (not a tiny one).


  • The coffee is strong.
  • $$$

I really love these instant coffee packs. They make a very strong cup of coffee. This really works well for me, because while I don't like my coffee as strong as these tend to be, I can make a cup of coffee in a large mug. There's nothing worse than not having enough coffee to kick start the day, and when I use one of these in a large mug with some extra water and some powedered milk, it makes a very nice, full cup of coffee.

I normally use instant coffee when I'm trying to pack a little lighter, and these will put you into a higher coffee bracket.

The only thing I don't like, is that you can only buy them in those tiny pouches. I would prefer to buy a jar of it, and then pack enough for me and my wife in a small plastic container or a ziploc. It's annoying and a waste of packaging to pack it in all those tiny pouches.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $9

Version reviewed: Colombia and Italian Roast

I brought the Colombia and Italian Roast on my 28-day hike on JMT. I had it every morning! I personally think it was adequate instant coffee for a cheap price to have every day on the trail. Small packaging doesn't take up too much space in the bear canister.

I mixed mine with Carnation Instant Breakfast (vanilla and chocolate) for more nutrients in the morning. It tasted great!


  • Easy to use, just add hot or cold water!
  • Tastes good!
  • SSmall packaging!


  • Not the best instant coffee on the market.

With multiple flavors to choose from, this instant coffee is a great choice.

Easy to use. Just add water. You can mix in any other flavoring, sugars, chocolate, etc to make tasty drinks. 


Been using this product since it came out. It has been my "Go-To" coffee on multiple backpacking trips.

Source: bought it new

I really love coffee, and I especially love the visceral experience of a beautiful place with decent eats when I am out backpacking.

The Via is a reasonable substitute for the Melita/grounds that I have carried for miles. Minimal waste, extreme ease, decent taste, no fuss--for what I miss a little bit in flavor, I will not trade back for the hassle of making coffee again.

I like the Italian roast best. It is not as full and robust as a classically brewed or pressed coffee, but it's very drinkable. I even took it on vacation to my brother's house because I will drink instant Via a 100 times before I want to choke down classic tinned coffee...

All in all, well worth the convenience.

Update: January 15, 2011

Starbucks has released the French Roast--this instant to me is VASTLY better than the other two flavors, neither of which I minded.

The French Roast is a very tasty drink--for ease, convenience, flavor, weight--this blends tops each of the categories!

Price Paid: Gift

Just in time for my UL Ozark Trail hike, Starbucks introduced, online and in a few urban markets, VIA instant coffee. I had a gift card to burn, so I thought I'd try it.

I'm never packing a percolator, press-plunger, or filter basket again. Ever.

Packaged in single-serving sized foil envelopes, the instant coffee powder is mixed into boiling water, and done.

Starbucks VIA wins on 5 of 5 critical standards: weight, space, space, maintenance, taste, and price.

ULTRALIGHT: Each coffee packet weighs less than half an ounce.

SPACE: Completely unnoticed.

LOW MAINTENANCE: No dishes except your cup.

TASTE: Very good. On a scale of 0 to 10, 0 being "nothing like brewed Starbucks" and 10 being "exactly like brewed Starbucks," VIA is a 9. It has even fooled taste testers.

PRICE: VIA is $0.83 per 8 oz. cup of coffee. If you're already inclined to pay for expensive coffee, this is a big time bargain.

Price Paid: $9.95 + S/H

This is by far the “BOMB.” De-caf or full strength it is awesome in taste and aroma. I buy the big pack of 12 and always have it with me you can add a little swiss-miss into it for a café-mocha. I drink it and cook with it makes killer red-eye gravy or add some to some pinto beans or chick peas. Bottom line it taste great, easy to pack, easy to make.

Price Paid: around $4 for 4

I am a "one cup a day" guy, a good morning jolt is all I need. These little packets provide plenty of punch, and with its contents darn near atomized it can be mixed cold if need be. I pack these now on every journey.

Since I can be satisfied with coffee from Denny's, IHOP etc. I am no snob, but they taste good to me!

Price Paid: $5

Fantastic!! This is instant coffee for coffee lovers. Actual strong coffee on the trail.

I've tried many other instant coffees before and they all fall very short of real flavor. Even putting double in was no help, well not anymore, one packet per cup for strong coffee.

Price Paid: $3/3

I'm a coffee snob that normally only drinks "Charbucks" swill when I'm desperate and there are no quality options available. That said, VIA is my go-to source for an enjoyable cup of coffee when backpacking.


  • Weights almost nothing
  • Takes up almost no space
  • Tastes okay


  •'s from Charbucks

As I said, I'm a total coffee snob. When at home or car camping, I make my coffee in a French press. But when backpacking, I love VIA.  It weighs almost nothing. It takes up almost no space in my pack (generally it simply fills space that would otherwise be voids in my pack). And there is no cleanup. (And for a Charbucks product, the taste is actually rather nice.)

Price can be a downside for some. Costco frequently puts VIA on discount, $11 for 24 packets...that's under 50 cents per cup...I can swallow that.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $11 for 24 packets

I am a coffee snob. If you've ever had instant coffee, forget that traumatic experience; this stuff is actually pretty good.

Perfect for camping and backpacking, great taste.

Price Paid: $3 /3pack

This has worked extremely well on my last handfull of adventures. I used to swear by the French Press in my JetBoil, and the coffee that produces does taste a lot better. But now I'm just boiling up some water and pouring it in my mug. Perfect for lightweight, late risers.


  • Packaged in individual servings
  • Tastes good
  • Very little prep time


  • Small amount of trash to pack out

I've always been a bit of a coffee snob. Which is why I'm so surprised with how good these little packets of freeze-dried (?) instant coffee taste. I know the price is quite high, but the convenience factor with the individual packets may make it worthwhile.

Source: bought it used
Price Paid: $10/10 packets

What a pleasant surprise from someone who used to pack a small coffee pot, Folgers tea-type bags, and instant powder in earlier times.


  • Great full body taste
  • Simple


  • Pricey

About 10 years ago on a backpacking trip here in Colorado, the friend who I took to a very remote area happened to have VIA packets (in addition to eggs and bacon in the morning:), I was just amazed at the taste at 11,000 feet.

Now a part of my trips and even used a few times on car camps. Great product, if something is even better...will certainly consider as a coffee snob.


Great Taste, "land" Filling.


  • Taste
  • Taste
  • Taste


  • Giant blister packaging
  • Then a second layer before the final packaging

Could have something to do with Starbucks deal w/Costco, I don't know. These tiny packs of coffee make a wonderful, delightful, full bodied cup of brew that doesn't taste instant. The coffee itself gets 5 stars.

Wasteful giant Costco style mega blister pack, then repackaged in groups of three inside that package...I'll bet the two layers of exterior packaging outweighs the little packs 2:1.

Anyway, tastes good! Starbucks gets zero stars for considering the environment.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $12.99

Starbucks taste good on a regular day... Starbucks is AMAZING first thing in the morning after hiking all day and camping out all night.


  • Easy to use
  • Great taste


  • A dollar a cup

A taste of civilization in the backcountry. If you can boil water, you can easily have a great coffee in the morning before your next day of hiking. This is a lightweight compact treat to help keep morale high.

Source: received it as a personal gift (Starbucks)

Perfect for backpacking trips.


  • Great taste and several varieties
  • Extremely small and light weight
  • Easy to use—just add hot water
  • No muss, no fuss and no pot/filter/press to carry

I use this for all my camping trips even the car camping ones that I could take a percolator.  No extra equipment to take and clean, just add hot water and you're good to go. 

The taste is great and there are several varieties/flavors available. Easily purchased in grocery stores. I've even used it at home when I ran out of regular coffee.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: about $1 depending on quantity purchased

Next best thing to a coffee press.


  • Flavor
  • strength

I love my Jetboil Coffee Press, but I'm not always on trips where I have enough water to wash it out after brewing.

I've used Folgers coffee bags for 20 years and tried the cheaper instant coffees, but Starbucks kills it with this stuff. It's just great—quicker and neater than fresh ground.

Packs small and light and very little trash.

Source: bought it new

Fast and easy caffeine that tastes good and weighs nada.


  • fast and easy caffeine that tastes good and weighs nada


  • ? tad pricey

PV=nRT  OK, for you non-scientists, this means that at different Pressure(s) and Volumes, the temperature will vary.

As P increases, as it will at higher elevations, T decreases. Water at 7000' and higher does not boil at a sufficient temperature to extract caffeine from ground coffee. Oy! Via is a nice alternative

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $7 for 8 packets

Excellent, easy to use.


  • Good coffee
  • Easy to Use
  • Quick

The VIA packs are perfect for backcountry coffee. Tiny packaging—simply add to hot water, stir, and enjoy. Not a ton I can say other than it's good and much appreciated on a cold morning.  

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $7

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Price Current Retail: $59.32
Historic Range: $1.00-$149.00
Reviewers Paid: $1.00-$12.99
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