This week marks the initial launch of Starbucks VIA Ready Brew into select London Starbucks coffeehouses.

First day sales of the product launch illustrated the need for innovation in the $17 billion coffee category. Sampling activity, advertising, and point-of-sale materials created a buzz around the launch with customers responding overwhelmingly positively to the new product. Demand for Starbucks VIA Ready Brew peaked particularly in the Heathrow coffeehouses.

Howard Schultz visited participating coffeehouses to see the launch take place, a significant breakthrough for Starbucks that has been 20 years in development.

“I am thankful our U.K. customers are excited about this game-changing innovation from Starbucks,” Schultz says. “With over 80 percent of people in the UK drinking instant coffee, we want to provide the best-tasting, highest quality coffee in a format that matches their lifestyle.”

The UK launch follows the successful roll-out of the instant coffee in key U.S. markets, Chicago and Seattle.

Starbucks VIA Ready Brew is 100 percent natural roasted coffee featuring no byproducts, chemicals, or processing aids, and is made from the top 3 percent of the world’s highest quality Arabica coffee beans.

Starbucks VIA Ready Brew is now available in 32 Starbucks coffeehouses in West London. Portioned into single-serve packets, Starbucks VIAT Ready Brew is sold in packs of three or twelve and is available in two flavors: bold, nutty Columbia and smooth, rich Italian Roast. The suggested retail price for the UK will be £1.20 for three and £3.95 for twelve, making a great cup of Starbucks coffee for 40 pence or less. Look for broader UK distribution in early 2010.

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