By Margaret Core, Vice President, Marketing & Industry Relations, FMI
A few summers ago, I was having dinner with a college student and he was in the middle of an interesting summer internship. He internship was with an Austin-based startup, Briggo, trying to market a robotic barista capable of making 10,000 custom ordered coffees a day. Earlier that year, I had seen a yogurt machine at the Consumer Electronics Show Eureka Startup Zone so I knew the concept. My family friend had me laughing as he told me about working on his laptop helping with financial reports while also drinking and/or pouring out coffee made-to-order to test the machine.
Fast forward two years and last month, in the Austin Airport, I so enjoyed my Briggo almond milk espresso with a shot of carmel.
Today, I was delighted to read about more innovation beyond coffee coming from vending machines from The Spoon. Please enjoy the story and examples of the food and beverage innovations we see all around us and thinking about the opportunities for sales and consumer connections.
On a recent trip to San Francisco, I enjoyed a steaming hot bowl of ramen that was fast, delicious… and came from a vending machine. Last week, PanPacific unveiled a beer vending machine that uses biometrics to verify the age of the buyer. Briggo announced this week that it is opening up a second automated Coffee Haus robo barista at the Austin airport.
We are entering the golden age vending machines, and I am totally here for it. (You will be too.)
No longer dull black boxes with half-filled coils of Doublemint gum and Texas-sized cinnamon buns, vending machines are increasingly complex devices that are equal parts robot and IoT-connected automated storefronts.
All this is to say that vending machines are the new food court. Only this food court 2.0 requires little real estate, no on-site staff, and can operate around the clock in busy places like airports, hospitals and dorms. Need a meal before your 6 a.m. flight? No problem!
But all the automation and convenience in the world is useless if these machines serve a cruddy product. The good news is, they don’t. Briggo roasts its own high-end coffee. Yo-Kai Express’ menu was created by a Michelin-star chef. And PanPacific’s beer vending machine can be outfitted to serve any kind of craft brew to satisfy even the most discerning of palates.
Vending machines are also poised to change the way we eat. The smaller footprint means more meal choices in a smaller space. The connected devices will provide data on inventory and sales for more accurate and efficient supply chain and logistics. Taken together, this will mean hungry people, especially those in a hurry, will have more and healthier meal choices (and will spend more money).
That sure beats a sad row of Texas Sized Cinnamon Buns sitting in a coil.