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Have you tried the new Coke Freestyle machine yet?

cokeI recently found myself with a group of tween fencers at the Wendy’s on Howell Mill Road. After everyone got their food and empty cups to fill, we found ourselves face to face with one of these fine machines — called the Coke Freestyle. This branch of Wendy’s was one of several dozen test sites for the new machine, which spits out 104 flavors of soda and still beverages in whatever flavor profile your palate craves. You want Vanilla Coke? Peach Fanta? Yours for a moment of scrolling through the screen, making choices and pushing the right buttons.

The machines are being tested in Georgia and California. A full list of the sites can be found on the Coca-Cola Freestyle Facebook page.

How did my gaggle of kids react? With supreme indecision — pushing buttons, tasting, pushing more, acting very much like they were at the World of Coca-Cola until I told them to get a move on. They wanted to go back and get more, but I enforced the one cup/one drink rule.

I ended up with some kind of weird, zero-calorie lime-flavored water the color of Homer Simpson errant nuclear rod.

You can read the Coke press release here.

Has anyone else tried the Freestyle? Did your kids react with the same indecision?

26 comments Add your comment

Steve

May 11th, 2010
2:45 pm

I wanted to kill some kids at Willy’s on Roswell Rd. What would usually take 20 seconds to decide on a soda took over 2 minutes while the line behind the machine just backed up…I guess it was my fault for going there on a Sunday right after little league time. I don’t have any kids, and waiting food-in-hand while seeing them swarm over the machine – during which time their parents were 50 feet away, slouched into booths and blasting their faces into burritos – made me pretty pissed. (Did that sound bitter? All I wanted was a diet coke.)

Kenbud

May 11th, 2010
2:56 pm

I do this it’s kinda of neat with the choices, BUT I do feel the taste is different. Maybe it’s a pre-conceived thing, but there’s a different taste to say, Cherry Coke Zero.

AJ

May 11th, 2010
3:09 pm

It’s a great idea that needs to be tweaked some. The Sam’s Club on Clairmont has the machine and it’s never stocked. It’s essentially a machine with 104 flavors that dispenses 15!

Mark C.

May 11th, 2010
3:17 pm

I tried the same machine for the 1st time back in March; overall–very cool! Tried 5 different flavors, which was really fun.

Some issues:
- Sanitation: tons of people touching a screen and then eating food with their hands or vice versa leads to a dirty screen and unsanitary conditions
- Traffic: single dispenser nozzle can lead to lines and frustration
- Responsiveness: as can be typical with touchscreen kiosks it sometimes took multiple taps (5-6) on the screen to get a response, but was better than many other screens I’ve encountered

Everyone I asked really liked it; the novelty delighted them and they loved trying new flavors. Seems like a success for Coke.

john mickins

May 11th, 2010
3:27 pm

best thing since sliced bread. i drive from decatur to the parkway pointe amc theatre in cobb just to get a taste. and i dont even drink pop like that (sorry from indiana) like that….go figure

Hungry Gringo

May 11th, 2010
3:27 pm

I was very disappointed by this machine. I was expecting 100+ different sodas, but it’s actually just 4 sodas with diet options and several varieties of flavored corn syrup. Yawn. Honestly, when I see Coke, Coke Zero, and diet Coke, AND Sprite, Sprite Zero, and diet Sprite, I only see two real options, not 6. On top of that, nobody I know like Vault except drunk people at Krystal’s at 4am. I might have been able to let all that slide and just enjoy the novelty, but they TOOK AWAY MY DR. PEPPER! …and I cannot forgive that.

AtlTiger

May 11th, 2010
3:38 pm

Agree with Gringo, not THAT many choices actually. And I do not like the hands thing, I usually push the buttons with my knuckles b/c the screen is greasy. And it takes freaking forever. Was almost late to a movie at Cobb’s Parkway Point b/c of kids playing with it and an old lady who acted like…well…an old lady trying to use the internet.

Amy

May 11th, 2010
3:46 pm

Yeah…that’s because Dr. Pepper is not a Coke product. Try some Pibb Xtra. It’s very refreshing!

Overall, the machine is a great idea, and a terrific way to ramp up sales. Not to mention that the company is compiling the data gathered at these machines to use in new product development. It’s like we have a say in the future drinks! My personal favorite is the Peach Sprite. Mmm mmm good.

AtlTiger

May 11th, 2010
3:47 pm

Sounds like Amy works for Coke hehehe

Quenched

May 11th, 2010
3:49 pm

This machine rocks! I’ve tried many different flavors on many different trips and have yet to be disappointed. Sure, the kids will want to try different things and there’s a bit of a learning curve which slows things down a little. But I’m thankful for the variety, and often go out of my way to have vanilla and orange Coke. Fantastic!

Steven A.

May 11th, 2010
3:53 pm

I like these machines, although I have noticed that they do present a logistical challenge since giving people that many more choices is inherently going to create indecision in lines. Not so much an issue at, say, the aforementioned Parkway Pointe AMC where they have 3 or 4 machines, but at a high-traffic counter service place, it can get bogged down. For instance, the Subway near that theater installed a Freestyle several months ago, then added a second, then removed both and brought back the old multi-spigot fountain with five options.

Of course, consumers like this machine because of the whiz-bang controls and the myriad options, but it offers a considerable environmental and cost-cutting benefit as well: It uses tiny, super-concentrated flavor cartridges instead of the huge boxed bags of syrup that often require their own room and runs of hoses to connect them to the machine, not to mention a lot more energy and effort to ship. This new form of flavoring may explain why it tastes a little different to some (or perhaps it’s remnants of all of those different flavors coming out of a single spigot).

Anyway, I think the machines are cool and provide a lot of benefits (well, as many benefits as sugar water can provide), and hope they receive wide adoption.

Sarah

May 11th, 2010
3:53 pm

I love the one at the Willy’s on Roswell. I had a strawberry Sprite today, and it was divine. Worked for me with one tap on the screen and no line. The greasy screen isn’t so fun though, and multiple dispensers would be a great improvement. And to you who only had a few flavors to choose from, sorry about that. The Roswell Willy’s gives you the full spectrum: Coke to Dasani to Powerade.

Jessica

May 11th, 2010
3:54 pm

Cool concept, I’ve seen them in a few Firehouse and Sam’s Club locations. But my biggest complaint has already been mentioned: only one dispenser means only one person can use it at a time. Waiting is *almost* as frustrating as getting behind a technologically-challenged person in the self-checkout line

Equipment Guy

May 11th, 2010
4:05 pm

The Coke-CCE merger will be interesting for equipment like this. It is one thing for TCCC to fund equipment for “novelty” sake, but another if a bottler has to pay for it (the stores get it gratis, just having to pay for the syrup – same with Pepsi, btw). TCCC has long over-engineered their fountain equiipment, but once they take on the CCE Assets and Debt, they should rethink some of their strategy. What nearly everyone I have talked to about these machines has said the same thing, too slow and too often out of syrups to make flavors. So why did TCCC pour $millions into the development? Because you can talk about it and it is “cool”. But from a shareholder perspective, why pay for a $8,000 – $10,000 machine if you can get the same thing from other manufacturers for about $3,500, except TCCC has an exlusive contract with one manufacturer for this equipment? That to me is pretty poor philosophy in these economic times. I know TCCC will spout volume figures, but take them with a grain of salt…lots of people will try these, but after one year, the volume will not be sustained with the slow process this machine forces. Does TCCC care about that?

Howard Beale

May 11th, 2010
4:40 pm

Are any of the flavors sweetened with good old cane sugar, as Coke was before the great “New Coke” scam of 1985? Or does the Mighty Coca-Cola Corporation still insist on pushing its liver-damaging high fructose corn syrup on us, in order to keep their profits at a maximum? I’ll stick to my Pepsi Throwback.

KEEPING IT REAL

May 11th, 2010
4:45 pm

Seems to be a very interesting concept. As adults I think people think its not cool to mix flavors at the drink machine. Change is hard and older people will have a rough time adapting to the new machine. Yes it take a while to get your drink but its worth it when trying something new. Six months from now people will be able to walk up and get excatly what they want.

As long as the kids are happy, everything else doesn’t matter.

Amanda

May 11th, 2010
4:50 pm

I tried it at the Wendy’s on Peachtree Rd. back when they first put them in stores in October I think. There were two people there from Coke to be bothersome in the process, trying to suggest things when I had a general idea that I wanted to make something raspberry flavored. I just found it hilarious that someone had to be there to explain it.
I went to another one about a week later and that was pretty much it. I know they think they’ll be able to get more sales from people who usually opt to just drink water but it’s the syrupy taste more than the lack of options that makes me pick water.

puerquito

May 11th, 2010
7:32 pm

I can’t believe people still drink high fructose corn syrup garbage.
Coca Cola is an obesity dealer making the world an unhealthy place for us and future generations.
Why drink these lab-designed concoctions when nature has the ability to provide more interesting stuff?

Chuckles™

May 12th, 2010
1:54 am

Indecision? The point of having this system available is to give you CHOICES. One flavor-one cup? Drink Naziism is A Bad Thing, John! Chances are, these kids have never tasted some of the Fanta and fruit flavors, especially the Raspberry Sprite or the Melon Coke?

For those of you who haven’t used the machine yet, gives you basic soda ‘base flavors’ to start with like Coke, Diet Coke, Coke Zero, Sprite, Dasani, etc. You then have 8 modifier flavors to add if you wish, like vanilla, cherry, raspberry, lemon, lime, etc. The machine is ingenious.

The key with it is that it gets the basic flavors RIGHT. If it messes up the basic flavors, no one will use it. But it does a great job of making the flavors you expect, and delivering new things to try.
Folks pay $$ to go to The World of Coke to try the different flavors of products Coca Cola makes. You get a chance to mix your own now!

John: how old are you? Have you never heard of a Kamikase? You have graduated to Old Fartdom, man. I am disappointed in you. Next thing you’ll tell us, those poor kids have to eat oatmeal for breakfast with no addins. One bowl – one cereal. For SHAME!

Reds

May 12th, 2010
8:41 am

I just want to be able to get lemon fanta in the states like I get in europe. <3

Robert Givens

May 12th, 2010
2:01 pm

I’ve used e same machine at the Wendy’s on Howell Mill. I loathe it. I go for the ice tea now in the separate dispenser.

American Gringo

May 12th, 2010
4:54 pm

I tried them and I do not care for the product it delivers. Too slow. I now avoid places that have these like Firehouse subs if I have a choice or I simply do not order a drink.

Chuckles = Crazy

May 13th, 2010
6:59 am

Take it easy. Drink nazism? Old fartdom? Article says author was with a group of tween fencers. A group of tweens. I certainly wouldn’t want to be waiting for several children to return to play with the magic drink box (keeping in mind they are now drugged on caffeine and sugar). Give the guy a break.

John Kessler

May 13th, 2010
7:58 am

Chuckles — I also believe the restaurant sold each of the kids one medium drink apiece. Just trying to play by the rules and let the people behind us have a spin on the magic HFCS machine.

I Like Coca-Zero... with Raspberry... and Peach.... and Strawberry... and Grape....

May 13th, 2010
8:11 am

The Coca-Cola Freestyle is THE GREATEST invention in the history of restaurants. (Yes, THE.)

When my beloved Subway location Akers Mill stopped carrying their red and silver duo of Coca-Cola Freestyle machines due to “high cost of constant repair and maintenance,” I cried like a little girl.

Praveen

August 24th, 2010
11:44 am

I worked in a fast food place and am a consumer. No one really cares if kids refill their drinks with different options. The syrup is so cheap and the reason why different size prices even exist at such places is for the takeout customers.