giveaway! win a starbucks via gift bag

This is not your grandma’s instant coffee! I got a sneak preview of Starbucks’ newest product, VIA — instant coffee that is nothing like any you’ve ever had. Meaning, it tastes like actual, high quality coffee. (I liked it so much, I had three cups in one sitting.) You won’t be able to buy it online until March 3, and when it first reaches stores, it will only be in Seattle, Chicago and the UK. So here’s your chance to try it now, plus get a few other fabulous prizes.

Leave a comment on this post telling us about your favorite recipe that uses coffee (whether instant, brewed, or coffee liqueur) for your chance to win this Starbucks VIA swag bag:

- A lunch-sized, 100% cotton tote bag from Fairwinds Trading, Inc., handcrafted in Rwanda
- Eight samples of Starbucks VIA Ready Brew coffee — four Italian Roast and four Columbia
- And a special VIA ceramic I Am Not a Paper Cup from MoMA!

Leave your comment by Tuesday, Feb. 24, at 5 p.m. EST. Be sure to use your real email address (we’re the only ones who will see it). One entry per person. Once entries are closed, we’ll select one winner using a random number generator. And read more about my VIA experience after the jump! –Mary T.

The Starbucks folks let us compare Via with a more traditional instant coffee. Big differences here — VIA smelled, looked, and felt like coffee. The existing instant coffee didn’t. (No, I don’t know what brand the “OTHER” was.)

Here’s how VIA is packaged — easy to fit in your purse. Heck, even your wallet.

After we enjoyed some pre-made VIA, we got the chance to mix it up ourselves. I made a good cup of hot coffee in seconds. I confess that I didn’t use the whole pack; I like my coffee strong but using the entire pack put it a little over the top for me in terms of strength. I’d say the size of my coffee cup was midway between an old-fashioned china cup and the more standard mug that you might use in your office. So for a mug, a full packet would work just fine.

VIA mixes up instantly, hot or iced. We tried the Columbia and the Italian Roast. I liked the Columbia better, though I don’t have the tasting vocabulary to tell you why. It had a cleaner feel, if that makes sense. Starbucks calls it “nutty” as opposed to the “bold” flavor of the Italian Roast. Either way, it was good with bread pudding. (Sadly, not a Starbucks offering.) Many thanks to Starbucks for a tasty time!

P.S. Incidentally, the VIA event took place at Seattle’s Boat Street Cafe. It is a lovely spot, tucked away in a building less than a block from the sculpture park. So if you find yourself in town, stop in! Three words: amaretto bread pudding.

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