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 GeekWire: Video: Watch the ‘Textspresso’ machine brew the geekiest cup of coffee ever