Starbucks' New Patent Hints At Faster Customized Drink Orders

Starbucks is no stranger to innovation. In fact, according to Justia, the company holds dozens of patents for everything from a method of carbonating beverages to a particular design for an insulated beverage container to a method of infusing spirits into coffee beans. On February 9, 2023, the coffee giant filed a new patent, according to Insider, one that could change both the way we order drinks and the way they're made.

Keeping track of changes in the Starbucks universe could actually be a full-time job. Whether you're tracking the company's plan to open 400 new locations in its Asia Pacific region or keeping tabs on the newest arrival of Starbucks retail products in your grocery store (hint: think pink!) the coffee chain clearly puts effort into generating excitement around its efforts to deliver new food and drink in ways that focus on accomplishing a goal they've identified, namely (according to Starbucks) "meeting customers wherever they may be, with the right store, in the right place, and at the right time." Starbucks' new patent gives us an inside look at how they plan to achieve that goal in the future.

Customized drinks with the push of a button

How much does customization mean to Starbucks? If you think customization is the sort of thing you can't quantify, you're mistaken. Nation's Restaurant News reported that in 2022, customized beverages accounted for 60% of the chain's sales, amounting to a staggering $1 billion. While Starbucks told Insider that providing customers with the ability to build their drinks is a point of pride (while charging extra money for some of those options, of course), endless customization requires extra time for baristas and can increase confusion over drink orders that aren't on the regular menu.

Cue the new machine-to-be. We're not exactly sure if Starbucks has a prototype of the machine yet. Still, the patent filing explains that the new machine will automate recipes and processes, streamlining the barista's job and even allowing for custom requests like a particular color for the drink. The goal is to continue to allow customers to request even highly-modified drinks while turning out the finished beverage more quickly and consistently. And about those colors: Insider reported that Starbucks envisions suggesting holiday colors for beverages, as well as colors to match your favorite sports team. What's your signature color? You may be able to drink it!