Food Finds · Trail Cooking

The New VIA Latte? #Fail

I wanted so much to love the new line of VIA Lattes. I mean really wanted to like it. It is very rare for me to be disappointed in a Starbucks product, if anything I encroach the line of being a fangirl.

In most Starbucks you can currently pick up a sampler stick (one 8 ounce drink) of the new VIA Latte in Mocha or Vanilla flavors, for $1. They have a coupon on the back for $1 off a 4 pack as well, a 4 pack costs $6.95.

It looks promising: natural flavors, real dairy (no palm oils) and VIA coffee. Add 8 ounces hot water and stir.

The easy road to coffee heaven, no? It’ll make backcountry lattes a snap?

But……sigh. No, Starbucks didn’t get it right. The problem is that it isn’t a latte! Lets call it a CafĂ© Au lait. Coffee with milk, sweetened with flavor.


(Yes kids, that is an actual Starbucks mug from Romania… business trip hopping better half brought me that back)

The drink is thin bodied, it is slightly bitter, not very sweet, and the worse part is that the milk doesn’t dissolve well. I took 2 sips, chucked it and made myself a REAL latte (little known fact? I spent my 20’s as a barista :-D) Sorry Starbucks, but this doesn’t work for me. Granted, in the backcountry I am less picky. I happily dump plain VIA into a mug, add a packet of hot cocoa mix, dry milk and water and have a trash-mocha. But that is the thing: that trash-mocha is richer in taste, sweeter and costs a lot less per cup (especially if you pick up VIA at Costco).

If you go into this expecting a “latte”, thick and creamy with milky foam on top, you won’t be happy. If you are OK with a thin bodied drink..sure, it’ll work. But Starbucks could do better. A whole lot better! Still, if you are 20 miles out it’ll work in a pinch.

PS: One reason the drink is the way it is, is simply the lack of palm oils. Palm oils give a texture to drinks. Instant coffee drink mixes found at grocery and Asian stores, Trader Joe’s and similar contain it. This is what makes them rich and even have foam. The downside is palm oil is red-hot now and is causing deforestation/death of orangutans. So I’ll give Starbucks a nod for using milk.

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