Looking to make barista jobs a bit easier, Starbucks has filed a new patent for a coffee machine that makes personalized drinks for customers. Despite having a menu that boasts a wide selection of hot and cold beverages, customers frequently request special mixtures.
According to Insider, sales have increased due to personalized drinks. In fact, Sara Trilling, president of Starbucks North America, revealed that extras like syrups and sauces generate $1 billion in sales each year, doubling since 2019. Last quarter, 60% of the drinks sold were personalized. At the same time, baristas are tasked with creating super-specific mixtures that often take longer to make, and are easier to get wrong.
Personalized orders vary in cost; for example, syrup add-ons cost up to 80 cents, while other items were free to include. In a patent filing on February 9th, Starbucks said that the new machine would alleviate the pressure of memorizing complex orders, providing a guide for baristas. It will also clean itself, and make drinks at a faster pace, without errors.
“Starbucks takes a customer-centered approach to beverage innovation and is always looking for new ways to delight our customers as part of the Starbucks Experience,” a company spokesperson told Insider.
Starbucks hasn’t announced when the machine will begin rolling out, or even if a prototype has been made. An initial filing for a provisional patent application took place in July 2021. Insider states that Starbucks baristas have shared their frustration with customers taking advantage of the mobile order modification option, often adding absurd amounts of syrup and coffee simply because they can. Additionally, drive-thru workers have time limits on how long they can take on an order.
Interim CEO Howard Schultz said at Starbucks’ November earnings that, “There is no other coffee company anywhere in the world that has our ability to respond instantaneously to a customer’s request about customization, nor there isn’t a coffee company that has our ability behind the counter in terms of flavors, syrups, modifiers, foam, etc., to provide the customer what they want.”
An additional feature the company plans to add to the machine is an option for customers to customize the color of their beverage, along with its individual layers. If someone wants their coffee to match the color of their shoes, the machine will be able to do it. It could also recommend colors based on themes like weather and holidays. This feature will also be available through their app and at digital kiosks.