Starbucks has just introduced "Via Ready Brew," their $1 instant coffee packet, and according to CEO Howard Schultz, "It took a lot of courage to say that even though instant coffee is the worst cup of coffee you can have, we are going to reinvent it." Only time will tell whether Schultz's courage is actually madness, but the instant reaction hasn't been too favorable. Though the company insists Via "completely replicates" a fresh-brewed cup, many customers have been blanched. One tells the Daily News simply, "It's bad," while another observed, "You can get a cup of coffee for $1 on every corner of New York City that tastes better than this. Maybe it's a product for people in other cities. I don't see it selling here."

Starbucks Gossip has the barista reaction to the rollout; the very first comment is probably our favorite: "I heard that we are suppose to get it wet and in their mouth and in their hands. Starbucks VIA, are you ready to brew?" And of course Nescafe sees this as nothing more than rank style-biting, and has launched an ad campaign declaring, "Imitation is Flattery. Charging 400% more, not so much."