Recently, a cool new product debuted in the Boston area at Kelly’s Roast Beef locations. The Coke Freestyle is a touch-screen soda fountain that was introduced by Coca-Cola in 2009.
From this beverage station you can enjoy more than 100 different flavors of Coke products from Diet Coke with lime flavoring or Dasani water with vanilla. You can also get obscure beverages that were only available in foreign markets like Orange Coke.
I first learned about the Coke Freestyle machines from a report on the Disney Food Blog.
I recently tested out the Coke Freestyle machine at Kelly’s and here are my initial reactions:
- The technology is really cool. So much so that the lines can be ridiculously long and slow. At Kelly’s, if you wanted to avoid getting your own soda, the staff would use a machine in back for you. But, what’s the point of that when you want to push the touch-screen buttons?
- The touch screen is a bit touchy. It had issues trying to identify your selections. If it couldn’t figure out that you had touched something soon enough, you were brought back to the main menu and needed to start the process all over.
- The ice machine is in the machine, too. I didn’t get this right away, but first you want to push the metal lever to fill your glass with ice. It doesn’t instruct you to do that and you assume there would be “push here for ice” sign, but no.
My first time up to the machine I enjoyed a Coke Zero flavored with cherry. As the beverage poured into the cup, you could see two definitive streams. How the streams don’t cross-contaminate one another, I don’t know. But, it’s pretty cool. The second time around, I enjoyed Mr. Pibb Zero – a beverage I had never seen offered before.
One of the cool technology aspects about the Coke Freestyle machines is that they communicate back to Coca-Cola HQ in Atlanta using RFID chip, or radio frequency identification. They are able to figure out what flavors and combinations are the most popular, and help with resupplying needs.
The Coke Freestyle machines, as of June 2011, were available in 600 stores in 50 markets across the country, including some Wendy’s, Fuddruckers, Five Guys and Dairy Queen outlets.
Find the closest Coke Freestyle machine at www.coca-colafreestyle.com.