New soda dispenser offers 120 drink combinations
After ordering a meal to-go inside the Burger King on South Federal Highway in Fort Lauderdale, 61-year-old Charles Davis took his empty cup and headed toward the soda machines. But he stopped short, confused for just a moment as he looked at two tall, sleek, silver-colored machines with face-level touch screens.
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“It’s going to take time to get used to these,” said Davis, after filling up his cup with Diet Coke. Video: Woman sought in robbery spree in Hollywood, Miramar, Pembroke Pines Coca-Cola Freestyle machines, the newest in soda fountain technolgy, are popping up across South Florida. The touch screen machines that offer more than 120 different types of Coke brand soft drinks, are being used at several South Florida Burger King locations, Pei Wei Asian Diners, local burger joints and most recently, Miami Subs Grill. “These machines are the iPods of fountain machines,” said Coca-Cola Senior Customer Marketing Manager, Dan Redler. Thirsty customers place their cups inside the machine, then choose from a variety of sodas, sport drink and water options on the touch screen. Some options include drinks that aren’t sold anywhere else, like Coke with orange flavoring or Sprite with peach. In one month, at least every drink of the 125 options are chosen once on most Coke Freestyle machines, Redler said. When a drink option is chosen, the machine uses microdispensing technology – used commonly in medicine dispensing machines — to add filtered water, carbonation, flavor syrup, brand essence and sweetner into an individual cup. Each component is stored in separate cartidges inside the machine. Some versions of the soda fountain machine require users to hold down a “push” button on the front of the machine to fill their drinks. Others are formatted to fill a specific sized cup to the brim without spilling over. The machines are able to track which types of drinks are the best sellers and at what peak times, Redler said. The machines also request work orders when refills are needed and alert Coke headquarters when something is wrong. Miami Subs CEO Richard Chwatt said the new machine is worth the “slighty higher” price over the traditional soda fountain machines. Unlike older soda fountain models, the Coke Freestyle doesn’t need room to stack bags of syrup flavors, nor will restaurant employees have to change out the bags when they run out. Prices for sodas haven’t increased with the new machines and refills are free at most restaurants that use them. The new Coke machines were installed in eight South Florida Miami Subs locations two weeks ago on a trial period. Chwatt said he hopes to install the new machines in all 50 Miami Subs locations soon. The machines have been introduced to 54 different markets, mostly in larger cities, on the east and west coasts. Cristian Garces, a 15-year-old Nova High School student, tried out the machine for the first time Thursday at Burger King. “The whole thing is pretty cool,” Garces said. “There are just so many choices and stuff I’ve never seen before.” He said he got the hang of the touch screen pretty quickly. As for Davis, it took him a minute to find the type of soda he wanted. “It’s got to be fun if you’re a kid,” Davis said.
Copyright © 2011, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
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