Coca-Cola’s Freestyle soda fountain is a system the Jetsons surely would have wanted in their space-age living quarters. One I’d like to have parked in my living room.
The Freestyle is a touch-screen system that dispenses 100+ flavors of water, soda, fruit drinks and Powerade. The Coca-Cola Company invested millions in the development of the system that relies on cartridges loaded with “concentrated ingredients” rather than syrup. They also agreed to pay $715 million for the rights to distribute Dr Pepper (source: WSJ) in the units.
The machine itself is quite slick. Think retro modern meets futuristic designs from the ’50s. It’s available in Coca-Cola red, chrome, and black, and relies on customer input via touchscreen or by using buttons below the dispenser.
The flavors? Last count was just over 120 for some locations… and that’s not counting what you can mix and match yourself (like opting for a half-Coke/half-Dr Pepper). All that, and it’s not much bigger than current-day six- or eight-flavor fountains.
How’s it work? All the flavors, stored in cartridges, are housed in the cabinet. Using a microdosing technology Coca-Cola calls PUREPOUR, the highly concentrated flavorings are mixed with water and sweetener upon selection.
While soda enthusiasts will appreciate many standard flavors, there are plenty that aren’t available in bottles, like Raspberry Coke and Vanilla Sprite. If you’re wondering how the concoctions taste, two guys at Serious Eats tried them all and weigh in at the site’s Drinks blog.
For many, the real obstacle is finding a machine. Coca-Cola reports more than 3,000 out there, some in franchises like Burger King and Five Guys. But the Freestyle is still in its infancy (the first one rolled out about three years ago), so I suspect it’s going to take time to hit every area. The Freestyle nearest me is a 45-minute drive. Then again, it’s probably a good thing I don’t have one around the corner – yeah, I’m one of those who has to try everything (including Fanta Peach, which the guys over at Serious Eats say is disgusting).
The current beverage brands include: Coke, Diet Coke, Coke Zero, Caffeine-Free Diet Coke, Sprite, Sprite Zero, Mello Yello, Barq’s, Diet Barq’s, Dr Pepper, Diet Dr Pepper, Pibb Xtra, Pibb Zero, Dasani (water), Dasani Sensations (carbonated water), Fanta, Fanta Zero, Hi-C, Minute Maid, Minute Maid Lite, Powerade, Powerade Zero, Vault and Seagram’s Seltzer. Flavors (which aren’t available for every brand) include lemon, lime, cherry, orange, raspberry, vanilla, cherry vanilla, grape and peach.
In case your wondering, the Freestyle is designed for self-creating, so, yes, you can touch away and splash various flavors into a single cup. It’s no surprise that plenty of people who find a Freestyle spend lots of time at the machine, trying all the different flavors.
Have you tried the Freestyle? If so, what’s your favorite flavor or “mix”?