Coca-Cola-owned coffee chain makes first foray into the US market with acquisition of digital coffee kiosk company Briggo as automated coffee machines become an attractive investment during coronavirus
A Costa Coffee BaristaBot, formerly Briggo, coffee machine | Photo: Costa Coffee
UK-based Costa Coffee
has purchased US ‘coffee robot’ brand Briggo for an undisclosed sum. Austin-based Briggo operates 52 automated coffee kiosks across the US, all of which will be converted to the ‘Costa Coffee BaristaBot’ brand. Briggo’s app, which is used to order coffee digitally, and its website already bear the new BaristaBot name.
Founded in 2008, Briggo has built a significant presence at US airports, having signed a deal with SSP America in August 2019 to expand across US travel hubs. However, with travel footfall still significantly impeded by coronavirus, it remains to be seen whether Costa will continue to roll out coffee machines at transit hubs.
Nevertheless, with the global pandemic upending traditional coffee shop trade, acquiring a digitally integrated automated coffee business is likely a savvy move for Costa in the US, where coronavirus cases continue to climb. Briggo machines can operate 24-hours-a-day without the need for physically present staff, can make up to 100 coffees per hour and allow customers to order ahead via an app with minimal physical interaction.
Europe’s largest coffee chain will be seeking to diversify its store portfolio as the pandemic continues to impact its brick-and-mortar café business. In September 2020 Costa Coffee announced 1,650 jobs were at risk
across its 2,700 UK stores. Costa’s parent company, Coca-Cola, has also announced job cuts because of coronavirus disruption.
After being acquired
by Coca Cola for £3.9bn ($4.8bn) in late 2018, it was only a matter of time before Costa Coffee entered the US market, where the global brand has been curiously absent. Speaking on an investor call on October 22 2020, Coca-Cola Chairman and CEO James Quincey
reiterated his firm’s intention to become a “global multi-platform coffee company under the Costa brand.”
Costa Coffee already has significant expertise in the automated coffee machine segment. In 2011 it acquired the 900-unit Coffee Nation vending machine business for £59.5m ($77.3m), which it converted into its Costa Express brand and now operates a formidable global network of more than 9,000 sites across 32 markets.