Starbucks replaces baristas with vending machines

Starbucks vending machine

In a move that directly contradicts the Starbucks’ position of “putting people before products,” the company is reported to be launching vending machines in place of baristas to serve coffee at grocery stores in 8 states.

Starbucks unit brews up self-serve espresso bars

Starbucks Corp. is experimenting with selling espresso drinks from a machine, sans barista.

The company, through its Seattle’s Best Coffee label, has teamed up with Coinstar Inc. and a small Bellevue company, Concordia Coffee Co. Inc., on automated, self-serve espresso kiosks in grocery stores in eight states.

The idea is to “bring coffee to places where you wouldn’t or couldn’t put a full-service espresso bar,” said Tom Ehlers, general manager and vice president of Seattle’s Best Coffee.

The machines, which grind their own beans, crank out lattes, mochas, chai teas, hot chocolates and drip coffees. There are 86 machines installed in Albertsons stores and other groceries in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah, Illinois, Wisconsin, Maryland and Tennessee. The machines take credit and debit cards, cash and coins.

I suspect that they’ll come up with a catchy trade name for the “experience,” perhaps Vendissimo or Place v3.0, in reference to their quickly eroding “3rd place” concept. This should not come as much of a shock to anyone; since the company switched to superautomatic espresso machines a few years back, their baristas have been essentially pushbutton operators of similar vending machines behind the counter. It only makes sense to remove employees from the processes and have the customers push the buttons themselves!

What’s next for Starbucks, you might ask? I suggest developing automated customer robots that can interface directly with the machines to remove the cumbersome button pushing and coffee drinking parts of the process. Direct WiFi or RFID transmission of coffee — that will give the full virtual coffeehouse experience!

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Starbucks replaces baristas with vending machines

10 Responses

  1. Would like information regarding business opportunities to place the Starbucks expresso vending machines in Arizona.

    July 24, 2008 at 9:42 am #
  2. To Whom It May Concern:
    Is this machine available for placement in the Atlanta area? Also, please advise of pricing and new account set up.

    Looking forward to hearing back from you. Feel free to contact us at any of our contact below.

    Narissa Smith
    Executive Co-Owner
    Fresh Vending Services
    P.O. Box 1876
    Smyrna, GA 30081
    fax: (928) 396 – 4511
    phone: (404) 396 – 4511
    phone: (334) 803 – 2517
    e-mal: [email protected]

    November 4, 2008 at 7:22 pm #
  3. Heelllooo! Is anyone reading the article and my comments or are they just looking at the pretty pictures?

    Andrew Hetzel November 4, 2008 at 7:39 pm #
  4. Hello i would like to know if these machines are available in Australia I run a corporate vending cCompany and i am interested in the purchase of a few hundred machines and account seup regards,
    Cass

    April 17, 2009 at 1:24 am #
  5. Mr Mahmud Khan, you do not deserve to be anywhere any sort of coffee ever if you don’t know the difference between an espresso and the non-existent eXpresso.

    June 2, 2009 at 11:57 am #
  6. I live in Ocean city maryland, I wanted to know if this machine is available for placement in this area, also who can I contact for more information and pricing

    thank you

    January 31, 2011 at 4:04 pm #
  7. wondering the price and how to get them in cleveland, ohio

    April 20, 2011 at 10:33 am #
  8. Ive got a corporate contract to place this type vending machine
    in over 200 grocery stores in the Carolinas
    and Florida. Are you interested in a joint venture?
    Contact Lee 843 455 2525

    December 29, 2011 at 9:00 am #
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