I am deeply embarrassed to admit it, but I am a Starbucks VIA whore. It’s a miserable thing to own up to. Under ordinary circumstances this is how I feel about coffee. Snoberific. Stupendously pretentious. Not like this guy, who would drink the boiled Bunn water from any American truck stop and maybe chew on the overcooked Sanka grinds, too.
But Starbucks sent me some iced VIA to try recently, and it sat on the shelf in the kitchen. I didn’t touch it. Why would I? Oh, right, I once wrote that the lightest weight, most portable camp coffee on earth is VIA. That still holds true; it’s the only instant hot java that doesn’t taste like it was cut with WD-40.
Eventually, I went on a mountain bike trip to Whistler…and idly threw a VIA iced coffee sleeve into my kit as a just-in-case-of-emergency measure.
Morning one. Eyes glued wide open. It’s 5 a.m. and I’m starkly awake but fully exhausted. Jet lag. As an East Coaster I’m hosed for getting back to sleep once the light hits my eyes in the Pacific time zone. Worse, I already know I’m hosed on the caffeine front, because as I rolled in last night I saw that the best (and kinda only) espresso joint in the village doesn’t crack its doors until 8 a.m. What the hell, dude. What kind of coffee shop doesn’t serve the elixir of life until the sun is already warming the planet??
In the lobby I manage to motivate to the coffee maker just ahead of the baggy-eyed, dredded dude dumping off a bundle of Vancouver Suns and get a styrofoam cup right into the rainfall of brown drizzle as it makes its way into the pot. It’s not even palatable. It’s pathetic. But I drink it and refill my cup.
Next morning. 5 a.m., again. Wide awake. This time I cave. Hard. I’m worked from hammering a DH bike the day before and doubly worked by the lack of Zzzzs. It’s a fearful thing, knowing you’re going to fly down the best bike park on earth and needing to be on your game even without sleep. So I head to the ice machine in the hall add a little water and the VIA to the cup and…hey, you know what, it’s good. Hell, it’s just taken my downhilling dread and jet-lagged bleakness and flushed it. I’m CHARGED!
Later I’ll read that VIA Iced, just like the hot stuff, has two servings per sleeve; there’s the same 180 grams of caffeine as in a 16-ounce drip. There are also four teaspoons of sugar that I could have done without, but today I don’t care. And later, when I’m similarly hard up for a boost, I won’t care either. The stuff tastes decent, I’m not taking it in pill form (a la Five Hour Energy), and you could turbocharge any Camelbak or Kleen Kanteen in your pack in a heartbeat, because VIA iced dissolves in water of any temperature.
Principle schmintziple. Snob, schlob. I’m a VIA believer, hot or cold.
Even if I feel a little dirty inside.