Starbucks Auto Vending Machine and a note on Design

I am here at Washington DC at the beautiful Gaylords Hotel. On the 2nd floor, they have installed a vending machine from Starbucks. The automatic coffee vending machine is definitely cool. You swipe your credit card, follow 3 simple steps and then there you have it – your fix of Starbucks coffee.

Interestingly, there is a queue even here.

It seems like everything would work really smoothly. It did for the first three people in front of the queue. Not for me. The person right in front of me started engaging me in a conversation and I got totally into it. So I started doing two things at a time – followed the instructions on the machine (I think) and also engaged in the conversation with the gentleman. I clicked on the “Start” button (the last step) and continued the conversation with the person. And, suddenly – I found Starbucks coffee pouring right in front of me – the only problem – I had forgotten to place the cup under the tap. It was a total mess.

I cleaned up a bit with the help of others who were behind me. Someone from the hotel helped too and he made a passing remark – that I was not the first one to have created this mess with this machine. While that was a bit of a solace, it still was a pain to go through it.

Two takeaways:

1. Note to self: Don’t do two things at a time – at least when one of the things you are doing is totally new.

2. Note to Starbucks: Please update the design so that at least there is a simple check to ensure that there’s an empty cup before dispensing the coffee.