Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Starbucks Via. An in-depth review

During the last few days, I have been hearing so much hype about this "awesome" new instant coffee Starbucks had come up with titled "Via." I decided to give it a try and write a thorough review.

...But before I do that, let me give you some background into my coffee drinking habit.

I drink A LOT of coffee.

I got this from my parents, mostly my mother, who had a full percolator of coffee hot in the kitchen all day, even during July and August. I had my first cup around the age of 8 and I have been a daily drinker ever since. So I know my coffee.

As for my opinion on Starbucks, I love it. It tastes great and their regular coffee is my coffee of choice. I would drink it every day if I could gather up enough pocket change.

So my love for Starbucks is strong, but I have to admit, I was skeptical of "Via." And rightly so, instant coffee is disgusting, but I was curious.

So this morning came and my boss was kind enough to have a nice black, unsweetened cup of iced Starbucks coffee waiting for me (thanks). She also gave me a free sample of Via she received. So without any further boring talk, here is my review:


The marketing push for this product has been intense to say the least, and I like what they have done. The orange color fits along nicely with the start of fall, and the clever instructions on the packet give you that feeling that you are really awesome and lucky to be drinking this instant coffee. Starbucks also has a strong Social Networking/Internet campaign going as well, which is really smart. So I give the marketing/packaging a solid 5 out of 5 stars.

Step 1: Opening package and pouring into cup

The package of Via has an easy to use “rip” top located roughly ¼ inch from the top of the package. All you do is simply rip across at this “rip point” to open up the packet.

The illustrated instructions tell you to pour in the Via mixture before you add the water.

This was actually my lowest point during the entire process, because this stuff honestly does not look very good by itself in the mug. It basically looked like I had just poured a tablespoon of dirt into a cup, BUT, I was not going to lose hope just yet.

Step 2: Adding hot water

In our office, I am lucky enough to have a coffee machine that pours out instant hot water. I truly believe that is vital to the success of Via. You HAVE to have truly hot water. Zapping a cup of water for 60 seconds isn’t going to work. It need to be piping hot.

As I added the 8 ounces of hot water to the Via mixture, it instantly transformed into a great looked cup of black coffee. It even gave off a trademark Starbucks smell.
After a few seconds of stirring the water and Via mixture together, I took my first sip.

I was pleasantly surprised. It tasted like a good cup of Starbucks coffee! There is a difference but it is VERY small. But I do not normally drink my coffee black. Will this cup of Starbucks Via accept various condiments or reject them?

Step 3: The condiment test

My perfect cup of coffee consist of a strong brew, with “LIGHT” creamer and one package of Sweet-in-Low (yes I know its bad for me).

I was skeptical that I would be able to add these condiments to this cup of Via. But to my surprise, they blended perfectly. The coffee kept it’s strong flavor, even with the liquid creamer added in. I took the cup back to my desk and happily drank it dry.

Final thoughts

Starbucks Via is good. I’ll actually say it’s really good. I was a skeptic but I am now a fan. I am even seriously considering buying a pack so I can take some with me when I travel to the Lexington KY office. (I don’t like their coffee at all).

I now understand why Starbucks is promoting Via so heavily. I think they understand that they have a good product on their hands and they want to get it out into the public.

Consider me a fan. You should try it and don’t be scared off by it’s dirt like appearance at first.

I give Starbucks Via 4 ½ stars out of 5.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Meditation. Let's start!

Meditation is the backbone of some of the philosophies I like best. Namely Buddhism and Hinduism.
There are numerous reports and stories about how a little daily meditation can totally change your outlook and make life and work much more enjoyable. I like to talk the talk and say I meditate every day but I don't. Why?
I've decided that's enough talk, I'm going to start this weekend. All you have to do is take 15 minutes and sit attempting to clear your mind. That's all it is. There is no "practice" or "getting better." You simply meditate.
It helps to keep your mind centered, thus allowing you to perform better in your everyday activities.
Today people are dealing with a lot of stress managing their careers and family life. If they would just try a little meditation, they would find things to be much more relaxed and easier to handle.

But if you bring up the idea in most of our workplace environments, you get laughed at. I think meditation would be a perfect thing to try at my job for example. The staff I work with are mostly happy and it is a great place to work, but as with any job, sometimes the stress can have an effect.
If we took 15 minutes before the start of the sales meeting once a week to meditate and clear our thoughts, I guarantee you people would find it to be a positive experience. Many businesses out there have found this to be true. But I don't see that happening anytime soon. I get made fun of enough for having this Buddha statue on my desk!
Starting this week, I'm going to make a serious effort to meditate each morning and evening. I don't know if I can get Kayla to join in but I'll ask.

Here are some links below on the subject.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Horizon Archive: "You Don't know the Power"

After watching “The Empire Strikes Back.” for the 827th time last night, I found myself asking the exact same question that I’ve been asking myself since I was six and saw the move for the first time.

Is the Force real? And if it is real, how do I use it?

Let me first start by saying that although this column is going to come off as an extremely nerdy, Star Wars geek tirade, I am really not a huge obsessed Star Wars fan.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Star Wars a lot, but I don’t play the RPG card games and I don’t have any of the action figures.

Well, maybe one or two, but anyway, as a kid, I always believed in the Force.

I would listen to Yoda’s teachings and, like Luke, would attempt to join in the training.

I would put my right arm out and attempt to move my TV remote with my mind.

Well, now that I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to realize that Star Wars is simply science fiction,

but I still haven’t really let go of the idea of the “Force” as a real power or phenomenon.

After all, the religion of the Jedi arts is an officially recognized religion in the UK.

Believe it or not, I believe that the Force does exist, more or less.

There is a power in our universe that surrounds us and connects all living things.

And I do believe it’s possible for humans to manipulate that power.

The scientific term for the ability to move objects with your mind is called "telekinesis."

It is a skill that has been proven possible by the famous psychic Uri Geller, who has the power to bend and break metal objects, and has demonstrated his ability many times.

It is a skill many people are said to have. What is most amazing is if one truly studies

the techniques for learning telekinesis, it isn’t even all that different from Yoda’s teachings.

One of the most common theories on how it works is an individual concentrates with her hands cupped together to form a “PSI ball,” which is basically a ball of energy.

They then send out psychic waves of energy through magnetic or electric energy fields that are all around us, and if one concentrates hard enough, the psychic waves sent from their mind will send a shock through the energy field and manipulate the object the individual was concentrating on.

So, as you can see, this is a very simply concept, extremely plausible.

Basically, material matter is really nothing but an illusion.

All of the objects we have are made up of nothing more than force fields of atoms.

Therefore, everything is connected and if we know how, we can manipulate the force field.

I believe that with years of practice and meditation, everyone has the ability to learn these skills, but the public simply does not believe in them.

Which once again comes back to Yoda’s teachings.

If a person goes into a situation already believing they know the outcome, then that is the outcome they will receive. It’s like studying for and taking a test.

If you tell yourself you do not know the material, then, most likely, the test will roll around and you won’t know the material. The Force is the same way: if you don’t believe in it, then you can’t learn it.

During his training Luke said, “I don’t believe it,” and Yoda said, “That is why you fail” is a perfect example. Even as I write this, I do not truly know if deep down, I really believe in it. I have to

open up my mind.

Yes, Star Wars has a lot of fiction in it. The ships for instance are not realistic at all, and much of the technology in the films could never realistically be created; however, the philosophy of the films is a completely different animal.

The philosophical message of Star Wars is what effects its viewers the most.

All of the technology in the world cannot compete with the power of the force and the

Universe Much like Darth Vader’s famous quote from “A New Hope.” “The ability to destroy a planet is insignificant to the power of the force.”

Many similarities can be made with this and the current political agenda. It’s not an accident that “The Empire Strikes Back” is everyone’s favorite movie in the series.

I believe it’s because so many people, whether consciously or unconsciously, connect with Yoda’s teachings the idea of the religion of the Force.

I think we connect with it because in one way or another, it actually exists in our world as well. And, just like the characters in the movie did, we have to stop being so close minded and shallow and embrace it.

-Oct, 2005

Sunday, September 20, 2009

A Fully Wired(wireless) Household

I think I may be taking this social media phenomenon a little too seriously. Let me paint this picture for you.

  • I'm sitting on my couch watching the Emmys in Hi-Def.
  • Typing out this blog entry on a laptop computer.
  • Listening to the local police scanner because of the flooding rain.
  • Keeping track of my Tweets on TweetDeck.
  • Keeping track of my Facebook status on TweekDeck.
  • Sitting next to Kayla who is using my iPhone to tweet.
  • Watching live score updates of my Fantasy Football matchup.
So, here is the kicker. I'm doing this all right now at the same time!

...........Sorry about the delay, I was listening to the scanner. They pulled the occupant out of the car. They are fine, but the car is going to be stuck in the road until the water recedes.

Anyway, how is it possible that I am doing all this and my brain isn't completely fried? (maybe it is).

It may be information overload, but I'm enjoying it. I just need to make sure I get back into my running routine every day so I don't turn into a big pile of lard.