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Starbucks to offer instant coffee

SEATTLE Starbucks will unveil an instant coffee product next week that it says is more than 20 years in the making.

Starbucks said in a brief statement Thursday that the product would help it tap into a $17 billion global market for instant coffee.

"We have been working on this project for more than 20 years," Starbucks said, "and have a patent pending on the technology that delivers Starbucks coffee in an instant form."

The soluble coffee, called Via, will be sold in the chain's stores in packs of three for $2.95 or packs of 12 for $9.95, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal. The new product would allow customers to have a cup of Starbucks coffee for under a dollar, which could help the chain as it faces growing coffee competition from such fast feeders as McDonald's and Dunkin' Donuts.

Starbucks has struggled with falling sales as consumers cut back on their spending amid the recession. Starbucks recently laid off 2,000 employees, including 870 assistant store managers, and added 300 stores to a previously announced list of 600 that it plans to close.

Contact Molly Gise at [email protected].

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