- Coca-Cola's Costa Coffee unit this year acquired Briggo, a startup that lets mobile users order coffee from automated kiosks, and is now rebranding it as Costa Coffee BaristaBot, the Austin American-Statesman reported. Terms of the deal weren't disclosed.
- The kiosks, which can make 100 coffee drinks an hour from whole beans, fresh dairy and gourmet syrups, accept mobile orders and have a touchscreen tablet. Briggo installs the kiosks in highly trafficked spots like airports, medical and educational facilities, corporate offices, retailers and grocery stores.
- The investment includes Briggo Coffee Hauses that serve hot and iced coffee and teas in several customer locations, along with the company's technology and expertise, a Coca-Cola spokesperson told the newspaper. The Costa Coffee BaristaBot app is free to download from Google Play and Apple's App Store.
Coca-Cola's acquisition of Briggo is an indication that the soft-drink giant sees potential in automated foodservice technologies that are integrated with mobile devices. The company traditionally has made product distribution a key part of its sales strategy, recognizing that when consumers are thirsty, they'll typically choose what's quickly available.
That strategy has evolved to not only include vending machines, but also smart beverage dispensers that let customers customize a soft-drink without tapping on a touchscreen. Amid concerns about coronavirus infections, the company this year updated its interactive Freestyle soda fountains to make them contactless. Instead of touching the beverage dispensers, mobile customers can scan a QR code with a smartphone and pick a drink from a digital menu.
The acquisition of Briggo is another step by Coca-Cola toward competing more directly with Starbucks, Dunkin' and other chains that sell coffee. Coke last year acquired Costa, a U.K. coffee chain that operates thousands of stores in more than 30 countries, for $5.1 billion to expand into a faster-growing beverage category. At the time of the acquisition, the coffee category was growing 6% a year, according to Coca-Cola.
The addition of Briggo to Costa's portfolio gives the chain more flexibility to expand distribution, particularly in high-traffic areas or locations where space is limited. Briggo's coffee stands are 40 square feet in size, which is small enough to set up in locations like building lobbies and other busy areas. Briggo was founded in 2009 and opened its first coffee-dispensing kiosk on the University of Texas campus two years later.
Last year, Briggo signed an agreement with SSP America to install kiosks at dozens of airports in the U.S. and Canada, per a company announcement. The startup's locations include Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, the Austin Convention Center and Dell Technologies, the American-Statesman reported. While the ensuing pandemic has led to steep drops in air travel, foot traffic at airports ideally will recover when the health crisis subsides, and the automated kiosks may appeal to customers looking to limit interactions with other people.