The last couple of months, I have really been enjoying iced coffee at Starbucks. I don’t know what it is about walking to the office with a reusable tumbler in hand full of iced coffee when the weather is hot and generally icky that makes it considerably more bearable. It is also a pretty simple drink to order — in a coffee place like Starbucks where guides are written to show you how to order a cup of coffee.
For the last couple of years I have been enjoying the Starbucks Via — earlier than most because Seattle was a test market for the product — and family in Seattle was kind enough to send us some after Elizabeth and I moved. I loved Via because it really was indistinguishable, in my sensitive coffee drinking mouth, from the drip coffee that I would buy from Starbucks or make with their beans.
I was therefore quite excited when I found out that they had a line of instant iced coffee that they were going to begin selling. I was given a sample packet and was immediately wary when I read that it came already sweetened. Here is why — sweetness in coffee is an incredibly sensitive thing. There’s a reason that coffee shops like Starbucks leave the sweeteners out for you to use with your own discretion — as much or as little as you like.
The instructions said to mix the powder with sixteen ounces of water. The problem with this is that if you have a glass that only holds sixteen ounces (such as the reusable iced drink cups from Starbucks) it leaves no room for ice. The first time I tried making the iced coffee, I put in the ice first and then the water, and it made dissolving the powder nearly impossible. I ended up stoppering the top and giving it a hearty shake to make something that resembled iced coffee.
When I took my first sip, I nearly spat it out. It was disgustingly sweet — as though someone took the essence of Candy Land and poured it into my cup. The second time I tried making the drink, I made it without ice, thinking perhaps it wouldn’t be too sweet if I used the right amount of water. No dice — it was still way too sweet. If I added any more water — it would have a vile, but diluted, taste to it.
I mentioned all of this to an employee when I went into Starbucks and he told me that the company is working on an unsweetened version. Until then, I suppose I will just stick to what is made in the store — or maybe brew my own iced coffee.