Cold-Dispensed Fountain Wars Heat Up

Coca-Cola, PepsiCo unveil high-tech, countertop units

Steve Holtz, Editor in Chief, CSP Daily News

Pepsi Spire and Coca-Cola Freestyle

Countertop models of the Pepsi Spire and Coca-Cola Freestyle soda fountain.

ATLANTA & PURCHASE, N.Y. -- The high-tech soda-fountain market got a lot more competitive today. Five years after Coca-Cola Co. introduced its Freestyle machine to the restaurant channel, today it unveiled three countertop versions designed to "significantly expand the number of customer locations suited for the technology." Also today, PepsiCo announced the availability of its new state-of-the-art touchscreen fountain unit, the Pepsi Spire.

"We are in the middle of an exciting evolution of personalization," Brad Jakeman, president, PepsiCo Global Beverages Group, said. "The 'maker movement' has influenced the way people relate to brands and one another, and design has infiltrated everything we consume. What better way to empower consumers to make their own personalized drinks than by giving them the chance to create more than 1,000 beverage combinations with one simple touch of our sleek, engaging, modern Pepsi Spire."

Pepsi In-Spire-Ation

The Pepsi Spire portfolio currently consists of three touchscreen fountain-unit models that allow consumers to easily create their own personalized beverages. After quietly testing the units is restaurants--including Buffalo Wild Wings sites--Pepsi Spire is now available in select U.S. locations and will continue to roll out through 2014, according to the company. The unit pours a wide range of brands from PepsiCo's portfolio of carbonated and noncarbonated beverages, including Pepsi, Mountain Dew, Sierra Mist, Brisk Iced Tea and SoBe Lifewater, as well as an assortment of zero-calorie flavor shots, including cherry, lemon, vanilla, strawberry, raspberry and lime.

"Not only does Pepsi Spire bring the fountain beverage experience to life for consumers in a dynamic way with the brands they love, but it meets the varying business needs of our foodservice operators," said Kirk Tanner, president, PepsiCo Foodservice. "Our customers want flexible solutions and a portfolio of equipment choices, while also being innovative, fresh and fun. The Pepsi Spire portfolio offers something for everyone and it will play a key role in our broader foodservice growth strategy."

The Pepsi Spire lineup currently includes three models:

  • Pepsi Spire 1.1 is a countertop self-service unit that allows consumers to create up to 40 beverage combinations using a 10-inch touchscreen.
  • Pepsi Spire 2.0 is a countertop self-service unit that allows consumers to create up to 500 beverage combinations using a 15-inch touchscreen. This equipment is also available as a countertop crew-service unit for restaurant staff.
  • Pepsi Spire 5.0, which is launching soon, allows consumers to create more than 1,000 beverage combinations using a 32-inch touchscreen. This equipment will be available as both a self-service countertop or as a free-standing unit.

It's not apparent how or if the Pepsi Spire differs--beyond the unit design--from the Pepsi Touch Tower, which was put into test in restaurants one year ago. That unit allowed consumers to create a variety of flavor combinations, such as strawberry Mountain Dew, reported the Associated Press. The test follows Coca-Cola's introduction in 2009 of its Freestyle machine, which also lets customers touch a screen to pick from a wide array of flavor combinations. At the time, a Pepsi spokesperson said the company had other tests planned and that the Touch Tower was just the first in a series of new fountain equipment the company was considering.

A Freestyle For the Rest of Us

Meanwhile, the Coca-Cola Co. welcomed three new dispensers to its Freestyle line, aiming to expand the number of customer locations suited for the technology. The new units offer the same elements that have made the full-size Coca-Cola Freestyle popular with consumers--beverage choice including more low- and no-calorie options, high-quality, connectivity and an engaging experience--in designs that fit on countertops. The new Coca-Cola Freestyle dispensers will be piloted by the end of the year.

“Since Coca-Cola Freestyle made its debut in 2009, it has proven to be a game-changer,” said Jennifer Mann, vice president and general manager, Coca-Cola Freestyle. “Through a relentless focus on innovation, we are now able to provide a Coca-Cola Freestyle dispenser appropriate for the unique needs of customers while still giving the same great beverage experience.”

The expanded line up of Coca-Cola Freestyle dispensers will now include two designed for medium-volume locations that are able to dispense 80 different beverage choices. The third unit is designed for locations such as work break rooms or cafes and provides more than 35 drink options. The same touch-screen interface is part of all the new dispensers. All three are designed as countertop units and will be available to customers globally.

Also this month, Coca-Cola unveiled the “Create Your Own Mix” Freestyle app, allowing users to choose from 100-plus drink options to create a custom mix of their own and then, for the first time, connect their smartphones to dispensers at participating outlets and pour it on the spot. How it works:

  • The App is free for Android and iOS devices.
  • Tap and drag up to three different options from over 100 choices, adjust the percentage of each and name your mix.
  • Scan the QR code to connect with Coca-Cola Freestyle at participating outlets, pour and enjoy.
  • Share your personal mix with friends.

Steve Holtz, CSP/Winsight By Steve Holtz, Editor in Chief, CSP Daily News
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