Foodservice

Coca-Cola Launches Touchless Fountain System

Customers select and initiate beverage pouring from their smartphones
Coca-Cola Machine
Photograph courtesy of Coca-Cola

ATLANTA — The Coca-Cola Co. is bringing a touchless fountain experience to restaurants, retailers and other foodservice operators in the United States.

Through its Coca-Cola Freestyle dispensers, customers can select and pour their fountain beverages from their phones without having to create an account or download an app. Users scan a QR code on the Freestyle machine that prompts a digital experience similar to that of the Freestyle touchscreen, allowing them to select their beverages and pour into their cup, which is placed on the fountain. Only one user can scan and pour at a time, and a unique URL is listed on each Freestyle machine in case customers using older-model smartphones cannot scan the QR code. 

Freestyle contactless pouring will be available on 10,000 machines by the end of this summer, Coca-Cola said.

“All Coca-Cola beverage dispensers are safe with recommended care and cleaning,” said Chris Hellmann, vice president and general manager for Coca-Cola Freestyle. “But in these uncertain times, Coca-Cola is providing consumers a new option—a touchless fountain experience. It has been exciting to see our team continue to innovate—mostly from home—to meet the evolving needs of customers and consumers. Our partners are doing everything they can to maintain a safe and hygienic dining environment, and we’re doing all we can to provide options for their guests to continue to pour the beverages they want on a platform they love.”

The Freestyle team set out to make the touchless fountain experience as easy as possible, Coca-Cola said. The team developed the contactless system in just a few weeks, building from the Coca-Cola Freestyle Operating System (FOS) introduced in 2019.

“Holding your camera up to the display auto-scans a QR code, which immediately connects to the cloud and brings the Coca-Cola Freestyle user interface to your phone,” said Michael Connor, chief architect for Coca-Cola Freestyle. “You then select from the full menu of brands and flavors—and pour. The idea is to be safe, seamless and fun.”

About 60% of consumers prefer to pour their own fountain drink versus having it clerk-served, and more than 40% strongly agree that they feel safer while in control of their own drinks, according to Coca-Cola, citing data from CivicScience.

These consumer demands for customization and safety promoted Coca-Cola to create the contactless Freestyle system, the company said.

“We intentionally designed this so anyone with a smart device could pour a drink,” Connor said. “When you have a tray or a sandwich in one hand, you don’t want to deal with downloading an app. We took steps to make the solution super-easy, super-fast and super-reliable.”

Coca-Cola launched its Freestyle machine in 2009. The interactive dispensed-beverage platform offers 200 beverages across nine categories, including more than 100 low-and no-calorie options and more than 90 caffeine-free choices.

“One of our top priorities is being a great partner for our customers,” said Hellmann. “Restaurants have been among the hardest hit businesses during the pandemic due to dining room closures across the country. Our goal is to provide a variety of solutions so our customers can offer consumers the Coca-Cola beverages they love, while driving critical revenue to their bottom line.”

Atlanta-based Coca-Cola Co. offers more than 500 beverage brands in more than 200 countries. In addition to the Coca-Cola brand, its portfolio includes AdeS, Ayataka, Costa, Dasani, Del Valle, Fanta, Georgia, Gold Peak, Honest, innocent, Minute Maid, Powerade, Simply, smartwater, Sprite, vitaminwater and Zico.

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