Coca-Cola’s ‘Pour By Phone’ Brings Touch-Free Tech to Freestyle Beverage Machines

Lisa Johnston
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Coca-Cola is bringing contactless pouring to its Freestyle beverage machines.

Using any smartphone, consumers can choose and pour a drink from their phone by holding their camera up to a QR code on the machine’s display. The Freestyle user interface is transmitted to the phone without needing to download an app or register for a membership.

But, yes, there is an app for that: Should consumers wish to save their selections, they can scan the QR code within a Coca-Cola app for future use.  

The mobile experience was piloted earlier this summer at select Wendy’s, Five Guys and Firehouse Subs restaurants in Atlanta. The tech builds off Coca-Cola’s existing Freestyle operating system, a connected platform the company developed in 2019.

As such, it took just over a week to develop the touchless experience — aligning Coca-Cola with other consumer goods companies that have been quickly pivoting to meet new demands prompted by COVID-19.

The upgrades will be pushed to more than 10,000 Coca-Cola Freestyle dispensers this summer, and all Freestyle dispensers are slated to be contactless-compatible by the end of the year. The company is also working to patent a touch-free, optical dispensing solution for legacy fountain dispensers. With these machines, a sensor-enabled lever detects a cup beneath the nozzle and then pours the drink, stopping when the cup is removed.

Chris Hellmann, Coca-Cola Freestyle VP and general manager, noted consumers’ growing preference for touchless experiences, as well as the company’s priority to support the hard-hit restaurant industry.

“All Coca-Cola beverage dispensers are safe with recommended care and cleaning,” said Hellmann. “But given these uncertain times, people may prefer a touchless fountain experience. It has been exciting to see our team continuing to innovate – mostly from home – to meet the evolving needs of customers and consumers. Our partners are doing everything they can to maintain a safe and hygienic dining environment, and we’re doing all we can to ensure they can continue to pour the beverages their guests desire on a platform they love.”

“We’re excited to get these in market, see how consumers engage with them and adjust accordingly,” Hellmann added. “The technology and resource investments we’ve made have enabled us to be nimble and innovate quickly, proactively and with scale.”