Starbucks patents coffee machine that makes colourful drinks to match your outfit


As Starbucks’ baristas juggle increasingly wacky orders, the company could turn to automation to create more complicated custom drinks.

A recent patent filed by the coffee store chain details a machine that can make drinks with colourful layers that match your outfit. Starbucks could potentially allow customers to upload pics of their clothes to its mobile app showing the colours they want, according to Business Insider. That way, your jacket can match your iced tea.

Starbucks currently allows you to customise your order through its app for an additional fee, including options to add extra sauces and syrups, milk or a milk substitute, ice and whipped cream. The company’s app also rewards you three stars for every £1 you spend, which can be exchanged for a free drink when you reach 150 stars.

In the US, customers have reportedly been purchasing more bizarre drinks using the tweaks on offer. Some of the custom orders have been linked to viral TikTok videos.

In total, Starbucks offers 170,000 ways to customise beverages at its stores, the company said in 2020. The extras helped Starbucks to rake in an extra $1 billion in yearly sales, the firm’s president of North America, Sara Trilling, recently said.

Meanwhile, workers have also taken to social media to bemoan the bewildering amount of modifications they have to put up with. One barista was fired for jokingly tweeting about an order that included 13 alterations, including banana syrup, cinnamon dolce topping, and seven pumps of caramel sauce.

Starbucks appears to be aware of the hardships of the job. The company’s patent claims the new machine can make baristas’ lives easier by guiding them through recipes so they don’t have to memorise them. It can also clean itself and dish out extras like syrups and flavours to stave off “arm fatigue” for employees.

More broadly, automation could lead to an increased amount of drinks being produced and fewer errors, Starbucks notes in the patent filing on February 9. It first filed the patent in July 2021, but has kept mum about whether a prototype has been produced. Some patents never see the light of day, so it’s currently unclear if the machine will ever make an appearance at your local Starbucks.

But the real novelty lies in the new customisations the system can produce. Starbucks claims the machine could recommend colours based on the day of the week, time of day, weather, and holidays. It could even whip up more localised recipes, including colours based on a sports team during match day at a stadium.

Beyond app-powered orders, customers could also purchase colourful new creations at a digital kiosk. Other features on the machine would include microphones for voice recognition, and a Wi-Fi connection to fetch updated information on new recipes.

At this rate, it’s only a matter of time until coffee stores start handing the entire job to robot baristas.