A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to stop by Coinstar’s annual analyst day, checking out some of the Bellevue company’s latest kiosk inventions. It was a fun day, getting hands-on demos with a photo booth of the future and a kiosk called Gizmo for refurbished electronics.

Unfortunately, due to time constraints, I didn’t get to check out Coinstar’s new self-service coffee kiosk, known as the Rubi. I did, however, drop a joke that it could threaten job security for thousands of coffee baristas throughout the city.

Well, that threat might be more real. Today, Coinstar inked an exclusive 5-year deal with Seattle’s Best Coffee — a unit of Starbucks — to roll out 500 Rubi kiosks at grocery stores, retailers and drug stores across the West Coast and northeastern U.S this year. That adds to the 53 locations in Seattle, San Francisco and D.C. where the Rubi has been tested over the past several months. Over the course of the partnership, the companies said they plan to put the Rubi in thousands of locations.

The Rubi serves up a variety of hot drinks, from mochas to lattes. Coffee drinks are available for as little as $1. The device takes up nine-square feet of retail space, and Coinstar CEO Paul Davis tells The Wall Street Journal that the machines eventually may be able to produce iced drinks as well.

“We are delighted to introduce the Rubi kiosk, our third automated retail business. Just as our Redbox movie rental and Coinstar coin-counting kiosks reimagined retail, we believe our coffee kiosk reimagines the coffee experience for consumers,” said Davis in a release.

What do you think? Coffee from an automated kiosk rather than a barista? Will that fly in the geek and coffee heaven of Seattle?

Previously on GeekWireVideo: Watch the ‘Textspresso’ machine brew the geekiest cup of coffee ever

Comments

  • http://twitter.com/parkerknapp David Milesi

    If the coffee is good and the kiosks don’t look sketchy then I am all over it. I don’t need a barista to pour me a cup of coffee.

  • Guest

    Finally, a Keurig machine for hardcore coffee lovers ;-) 

  • The_Tim

    We’ve had one of their beta units at the Everett WinCo for quite some time.  I’m not a coffee drinker, but my wife has used it.  She had no complaints about the coffee.

  • Guest

    Is there a list of where these units are installed? Coinstar, Inc.’s web site barely mentions Rubi except in press releases. I’d love to try one out.

    • johnhcook

      I am trying to track one down. I’ve not seen one in the wild in Seattle, but I think I recall the execs saying some are at Albertson’s.

      • johnhcook

        The company tells me that the machines are currently available in Washington state at select Albertson’s and at all WinCos in Seattle, Bellevue, Everett and Burien. 

        • Mr. Scott

          There is one at the Albertson’s in Issaquah and another at the Albertson’s at the Fairwood Albertson’s…

  • http://twitter.com/kforeman1 Kevin Foreman

    Great idea.  “Unattended Retail” is a big trend.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Cameron-Newland/10700278 Cameron Newland

    So happy to see such a promising machine come out of the Seattle area!

    I’ve had flavored coffees from a few different Rubi units (one in the Eastgate Albertsons, one in/near West Seattle), and found the coffee to be quite good. The mochas produced by the Rubi don’t taste quite the same as Starbucks’ mochas do since the Rubi kiosks serve flavored brewed coffee and not espresso shots, and though the flavor difference is certainly detectable, the difference in quality certainly isn’t. The kiosk has a really slick UI, and you can earn rewards by typing in your unique identifier (phone # or email) each time you buy a cup. Great product!

  • Rayburt456

    Who makes the machine?  I know there are some local makers of such machines…..

  • Jonah

    Starbucks was originally concieved because the cafe feel was missing.  Now they are trying to remove the cafe feel.

    As long as the sheep pay $5 for a $.75 cup of coffee, who cares?

  • http://www.facebook.com/phillipi Tyler Phillipi

    ‘Seattle’s Best’ coffee out of a kiosk sounds like a cup of tar… but if you are going between low end, franchise coffee like Starbucks and Peet’s coffee you might not tell the difference.

    • Mr. Scott

      Actually the coffee is quite good. 

  • Joe d’Coder

    If I want a cup of coffee, I’ll make it for myself.  If I want a coffee house experience, I’ll go to a coffee house.  Will I buy coffee from a robobarrista?  Probably, but only when suffering caffeine withdrawal symptoms.  Going out from coffee is so much more than just obtaining the product.

    • Guest

      Thank you, Joe. On behalf of all the men who will not leave their homes solely to visit a Rubi automated coffee drink machine, thank you for finally speaking the truth.

  • Guest

    What makes this different from the ones that have been on Washington State Ferries for decades now?

    • firewallender

      Branding. 

      • http://twitter.com/Cigarcurator Cigar Curator

        ..

  • John Lauer

    The big question is can i text my order in like i can on the Zipwhip Textspresso machine?

  • guestred

    why do the words “cooked coffee” keep coming to mind?  they will to pay me to try it

    • Cough Fee

      Kiosk freshly grinds the beans.  Tastes as fresh as anything brewed in a store.  Better actually.

  • JBob

    Redbox to limit my movies, coinstar to take ten cents of every dollar from my kids cashing in their change jars and now coffee from a machine that is likely even worse than Starbucks??? Good coffee is made by a talented person that knows how I like it, not a machine that is just happy to accept my money, whether it is good or not at least they suckered everyone into giving up a buck.  Congratulations coinstar, way to take the necessity of a persons touch out of everything!!!  Maybe you can build a machine to do my job, drive my car, and kiss my kids goodnight.  

    • Skippy

      We’re working on that!

      • Scott

        Good one Skippy, what about putting these in free standing stores in small towns? Many small town’s downtowns have been destroyed economically by the chain stores and the buying greed and laziness of the public. Owners could open a self-serve diner with the Rubi machine and a gormet sandwich machine. Add the coinstar and the phone booth and maybe a 24/7 WEBCAST radio show for kicks and giggles and spice.

        Parents could log on and see their kids at the store. I have a pilot location in a small Indiana town that I own, it’s a beautiful space. Could become a reality tv show Or a 24/7 online commercial for coinstar. Like the Coinstar fan cave. Maybe you’re President will read this and call me. 770-330-9592 Scott, Atlanta.

    • Mr. Scott

      1.  Redbox is still the best rental deal around.  2. Coinstar has plenty of ‘no fee’ options.  3.  The coffee from a Rubi is better in some instances than a barista.  There is consistency from cup to cup. 

    • MCK

      Who do you think has been taking care of your wife while your gone?
      Btw, the coffee is very good. Fresh brewed while you wait. Takes about a minute per cup.

  • Dave

    Part of the addiction is the ritual…is there anything special about this machine that takes it beyond the experience of buying a subway pass…?

  • Douglas Anderson

    I love Red Box and use coin star when necessary,but would never use something like this. A machine like this cannot come close to creating a real coffee drink. There is at least one company making a kiosk that can (the kiosk is also 4 times the size.) I would give that one a chance, but not this thing.

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