Starbucks “Via Veranda”

by on November 26th, 2010
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When I first saw ‘Veranda Blend’ on the rack at my local Starbucks, I wondered what had they come up with now. My wife and I are not casual Starbucks customers. Either of us can tell you where the nearest Starbucks store is within a five mile radius, and where there is an alternate if you are headed in a different direction. We take coffee seriously. And somehow anything CLOSE to instant coffee, especially with ‘Blonde’ or even ‘Veranda’ in the name doesn’t sound very serious, to us. We are ‘porch’ or ‘stoop’ people, not ‘veranda’ types.

What kind of Coffee is Named “Veranda”?
Good question, and the answer is-a pretty good one. It turns out that “Veranda” is one of two “blonde” roast varieties, Willow being the other. The fact that this Veranda is also Via, a combination of instant coffee and micro ground coffee beans, makes “pretty good” even more surprising to a coffee snob like me. The beans are Arabica (the kind that account for 75-80 percent of the world’s production) so that is not a big surprise. They come from Latin America, a pretty general area, but a good coffee growing region. Because this is first, a blend and second, designed to be a less intense coffee flavor makes those two choices both understandable and acceptable.

How Does the Taste Compare to Their Bold Roasts?
I am a fan of bold coffee from Starbucks. I make no apologies about that. But… this is good coffee, just not as intense or acidic or as rich. It isn’t watery or tasteless; it just isn’t bold. It is much less acidic, and not as ‘rich’ as the Espresso, Italian or Komodo I would normally gravitate to. The packaging uses words like “soft cocoa and lightly toasted nuts”. The Starbucks website uses terms like “lighter bodied and mellow” and “subtle and soft with mellow acidity”. Good words, although I didn’t get the ‘soft cocoa’ flavor from my cup of Via just now. I did add Heavy Cream, as I almost always do. That might have covered it up.

It’s different from my regular Starbucks choice and being “instant coffee” I am inclined to not ask as much from it for flavor. However, I think it holds up well against even fresh brewed when the grounds/beans are not fresh. And that would include (again, in my opinion) most of what you see on a grocery store shelf.

The lack of acidity is a real plus, in my opinion. I was informed by the Barista that because it is a lighter roast, there is actually more caffeine in both of the Blonde blends-Veranda and Willow- than there is in the darker roasts. I, of course, do not believe them. (How could I? My favorite is … etc etc. ) On technical grounds, however, I will bow to their expert training. It is, after all, their product.

Will I Buy More?
That is, of course the real question. The answer is yes, but… We don’t normally buy Via, grounds or beans at the Starbucks store. Sprouts Farmers Market is close to home and, frankly, enough cheaper that they get our money except special occasions and holidays. But I could be talked into buying it again, especially if friends are coming over who do not like the ‘burnt’ flavor (as they call it) that I love so much. And when on a road trip, definitely I would get a box of Via Veranda. There are indeed stretches-very long stretches-of Interstate with no good coffee to be had, especially late at night. And in those spots, Via Veranda is maybe quite literally a life-saver. It’s that good.

Sources:
http://www.coffeeresearch.org/agriculture/coffeeplant.htm

http://www.starbucks.com/coffee/blonde


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