Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The great coffee caper

Let's take a brief respite from this week's car-based nostalgia for a moment while I regale you with a short tale of today's lunchtime shenanigans.

Now, I think it's pretty much common knowledge that I do like a good cup of coffee, and I do like Starbucks. So you'd think I'd be pretty much up to speed on any new developments in the Starbucks coffee world. Apparently not, however. On Monday, y'see, I was sitting outside Secret Starbucks watching the world go by when I noticed an advert at the bus stop across the road for something called Starbucks Via. How very interesting, I thought, and resolved to head back to the office to Google it.

As it turns out Starbucks Via is Starbucks' new instant coffee range, and it's being launched exclusively today in the UK in a handful of West London stores. Armed with that knowledge, I strolled into Secret Starbucks today and was immediately confronted by all manner of Via imagery; I kid you not, they're not launching this thing by halves. The baristas were all wearing promotional t-shirts and there were boxes and posters *everywhere* - in fact, the posters were a bit like an iPod advert with silhouetted figures holding Via sachets. I half expected one to have some headphones plugged into his sachet and be in the process of throwing some shapes nightclub-stylee.

Anyway, one of the lovely baristas in Secret Starbucks gave both me and Yazzle Dazzle a sample sachet as we ordered our drinks, which we gratefully accepted and stuck in our pockets. As we headed outside to grab a table though, I noticed that someone had left a sachet behind - so I pocketed that one too. While drinking our coffees one of the other baristas we know popped out to say "hi," and told us that one of the other Starbucks stores in Hammersmith were doing a big giveaway on the high street. That being the case we resolved to pass by that way as we headed back to our respective offices. That made three.

Hammersmith actually has four Starbucks, though, and I figured that it would be rude to neglect the others on such an important day. About midway down the high street we came across a chap on a Starbucks bike-thingy (they've twitpic'd him HERE) who also had some freebies. To be honest I thought I might fail here, because I went up to the dude and held my hand out all expectantly like I was Oliver or something, and he looked at me like I was a bit speshul. Ultimately realising that he was being employed to dole out freebies to all and sundry rather than just the people he wanted to, however, he reluctantly gave me a sachet - which was lucky because I was just about to say "I want one - gimme."

Further down the high street, by which point Yazzle Dazzle and I were on the verge of hysterical laughter at our (I think the word is) chutzpah, we came across the fourth and final Starbucks. And here we faced our greatest challenge - and what could be our greatest victory. Outside this store there was a barista holding a tray of sample Via drinks as well as the free sachets. Dare we try our luck?

Of course we did.

We wandered up to the dear lady with expressions of complete innocence, and gamely plucked a sample beverage off her tray while she launched into her pre-programmed spiel about how the coffee was developed and why it is the best instant coffee on the market. I was trying to listen, but I was also trying to a) drink the sample, and b) not laugh because by this time I actually didn't care whether the coffee was any good, I just wanted to blag as many freebies as I could.

And we were doing so well until the barista handed us our fifth free sachet and then whispered conspiratorially: "Y'know, there are several other Starbucks in Hammersmith - you could just put a dumb look on your face and wander up and down getting as many samples as you can. I mean, you could be doing that now for all I know."

Yazzle Dazzle and I guiltily looked each other in the eye, turned back to the barista, said "noooooo - we'd never do that!" in unison, then scurried off as quickly as we could, pockets bulging with free coffee, no doubt leaving the poor woman to wonder what the hell had just happened.

We totally played the game today rudegirls *snaps*.

Wednesday's haul of free coffee - good times!

So, what are my thoughts on the fruits of my lunchtime labours? Well, I've just knocked back my first full cup of Starbucks Via, and I've got to say I'm pretty darn impressed. OK, it's not quite the coffee you get in-store, but it's waaaaaay better than almost all other instant coffees I've tried, and I'd probably go as far to say that it's the next best thing to popping into Starbucks. It certainly saves the time and effort that goes into brewing some fresh coffee in a cafetiere. I think I'll definitely pick some up (and by that I actually mean 'buy some') to stash in my office drawer ready to help fend off those post-lunch, mid-afternoon slumps…


the projectivist said...

they were TEENSY little packets!
you were entitled to about 20 each based on packet size alone.

did you get to try that ice cream?
i don't love ice cream that much really, but that ice cream looks innneresting.

the projectivist said...

ps. how's the decoration coming along at your office?

missyandchrissy said...

SO many free packets! i'll have to try that out when Via samples make their way over here.

also, that Starbucks bike-thingie is pretty cool! i've never seen one of those before.

Tim said...

The Projectivist - Teensy indeed, but they make a sterling cup of coffee! In all honesty, the sachets are about as long as an index finger, and I did amass about two quids worth of them!

Unfortunately they don't do Starbucks ice cream over here. And looking at their U.S. website it would appear as if we don't get a lot of their new products, like mochaccinos in a bottle and hardcore coffee energy drinks. I shall write a demanding email!

Decoration…? Office…? I'm not following…

MissyandChrissy - They're only selling them in Seattle, Chicago, and London at the moment, which seems a tad bizarre, but hopefully they'll be unleashed worldwide soon!