nce upon a time, Kent Sheridan couldn't find a decent cup of instant on the market. At the time, besides the basic instant brands such as Folgers or Taster's Choice, there was only Starbucks VIA.
Sheridan is something of a coffee snob—someone who weighs his coffee, grinds it to the perfect coarseness, makes sure the filtered water temperature is 30 seconds off the boil and knows that the first pour is known as the "bloom pour." He's the person who brings his specialty coffee equipment camping, waking early to brew the perfect cup. The problem was, he couldn't brew the perfect cup outdoors, because it never tasted as good as it did when he made it at home. So he set out to create an instant coffee called Voilà, aiming for something so good it could compare to the pour over from your favorite coffeehouse. Sheridan believes the next big trend in specialty coffee will be in the instant market.
Creating the Perfect Cup of Instant
To create a great cup of instant, Sheridan started with what he believes is a perfect cup of coffee. He had to figure out how to preserve the coffee so when it was rehydrated it tasted the same. Sheridan found a process, which includes freeze-drying, that he says works. With this new discovery, the next step was bringing it to market. Sheridan started a Kickstarter campaign to raise the $27,000 he needed. To successfully fund a Kickstarter campaign, the project needs to meet the monetary goal—and with the help of locals and people from around the world, Voilà, he hit that goal.
Then There Were Two
After the Kickstarter, Sheridan met Nick Holmboe, a Bend native with experience in food and restaurant management and a strong culinary background. Sheridan invited Holmboe to a "coffee cupping." For those of us not steeped in the coffee world, that means they intensely sniffed brewed coffee and loudly slurped so the coffee would spread to the backs of their tongues. They discussed mouthfeel, flavor and aftertaste of different coffees. Sheridan discovered Holmboe had a sophisticated palate and could pick up the flavor and tasting notes in coffee like Sheridan could, so he asked Holmboe to join Voilà as co-founder.
What does it taste like?
"It's the best instant coffee in the world," claims Sheridan. I wish I could tell you this was true. They told me I would get a sample, but when I interviewed Sheridan and Holmboe they didn't bring it. I did witness a panel of venture capitalists taste it at the Bend Venture Conference and they seemed to like it. I also know Voilà has received funding from the vice president of Stumptown Coffee Roasters, so I'd like to think taste had something to do with it.
Still, we don't have long before we can decide for ourselves. Voilà will be releasing its instant coffees in early November. Order instant coffee subscriptions through the website and you'll be able to choose your instant coffee by taste preference. Then it's delivered to your door each month. Initially Voilà will be featuring coffees from five different local roasters, and its founders expect to expand to include more over time.
When do you use instant coffee?
The point of instant is so we can have coffee anytime, anywhere. But convenience and taste aren't cheap; you'll pay the same price per cup as you would stopping at the coffee shop: $4 per cup. Voilà will be sold locally at Market of Choice, Backporch Coffee Roasters and Companion Coffee.