The Untold Truth Of Coca-Cola's New Touch-Free Soda Machines

The pandemic has sparked significant changes within the restaurant industry and we can expect them to be around for at least the foreseeable future. One big shift has to do with beverage stations. Many fast-food chains such as McDonald's have nixed self-serve soda fountains at their locations due to concern about cross-contamination among guests.

But Coca-Cola has been busy at work to create a contactless solution for its existing Freestyle machines, which is its brand of DIY soda dispenser. As seen in a YouTube video from Coca-Cola Freestyle, the new touch-free initiative is called Mobile Pour, which is an update that allows customers to select and pour drinks via their smartphones.

And they don't even need to download an app or create an account. Guests can just scan the QR code on the Freestyle machine's display with their phone's camera. This connects their phone to the user interface and gives the user access to the beverage menu. Once an option is picked, the machine pours out the drink into the cup in a matter of seconds. Those who use the Coca-Cola Freestyle app can also scan the QR code in the app and have the ability to pour pre-saved drink mixes (via USA Today).

How to use Coca-Cola's new touch-free soda machines

Coca-Cola is not 100 percent sure how customers will react to these new contactless Freestyle machines, but the company wants to provide an alternative for restaurants and entertainment businesses who are in need of touch-free beverage solutions. According to Chris Hellmann, Coca-Cola Freestyle vice president, the brand is fine with experimenting and seeing if the new function takes off with people (via Business Insider).

"This could be very common, and consumers might be very comfortable and want to use it all the time, or it could be a small part of our business," Hellmann said. "We'll see, as behavior evolves." The vice president also told Business Insider that Coca-Cola plans on expanding this no-contact tech to 50 Freestyle machines this week and then to about 10,000 by the end of this summer. By the end of the year, all Freestyle machines will be touch-free. There are approximately 52,000 of them across the U.S.

That's not all. In addition to rolling out this new tech, Coca-Cola is also working on contactless alternatives for its pre-Freestyle soda dispensers and working with restaurants during the pandemic to create other safety options, such as hand sanitizer and disposable stylus pens.