Starbucks believes in hot beverage vending; Do you?

Feb. 10, 2011

When you think of good coffee, do you think about vending? If you don’t, you might be in danger of falling behind the times.

Coffee is the bright spot of refreshment services nowadays, but for many operators, the action in coffee isn’t anywhere to be found in the vending side of the business. Vending operators have recognized the growth in OCS as coffee products have gotten better. Most astute vending operators have expanded into OCS while coffee vending has languished on the sidelines.

To many veteran operators, the full size hot drink machine represents yesterday’s business which was dominated by blue collar accounts and is now passe.

Given this scenario, I was pleasantly surprised when I came across the Seattle’s Best Coffee bean-to-cup vending machine at the OneShow in Chicago last spring.

Starbucks has integrity

I had seen specialty coffee vending concepts displayed at trade shows before, but Seattle’s Best Coffee, a brand owned by Starbucks? A company with an impeccable reputation for knowing what it’s doing?

If I thought my eyes had deceived me, my taste buds did not. When it comes to coffee, there’s no substitute for that full body brew. And the quality that came out of that machine gave any Golden Cup barista a run for their money.

I wrote about this joyful discovery in a post-OneShow blog. I claimed that a chance was at hand to revive hot beverage vending. The value proposition makes sense. A premium coffee that rivals anything sold in a coffee house – in a convenient setting – at a value price. Starbucks, one of the nation’s most successful marketers, doesn’t do things on a whim, as noted on page 18. It knows the coffee consumer well. Do we?

Just the beginning?

For Starbucks to believe vending can deliver a high quality product consistently says something about the vending industry’s professionalism.Might a water soluble Starbucks Via machine be lurking in the future?