CHARLOTTE — Harris Teeter is piloting self-service espresso bars in three stores, according to the company that owns the machines.
Located in the front of the store, the kiosks dispense a variety of Starbucks Corp.'s Seattle's Best Coffee beverages, including premium coffee, lattes, mochas and chai tea. The machines accept cash, debit and credit as payment.
Coinstar, Bellevue, Wash., owns the kiosks and provides maintenance. Harris Teeter is responsible for refilling the milk and coffee.
A Harris Teeter spokeswoman declined to comment, and a Seattle's Best representative was unavailable.
Coinstar's involvement in the coffee business is part of an effort to broaden its front-end retail services. Its product portfolio also includes DVD rentals, e-payment services and money transfers.
Coinstar started testing coffee-machine services last year, according to spokeswoman Marci Maule.
“Coinstar provides a turnkey service to the retailer, managing the installation and service of the machine,” she said.
Maule declined to reveal the dimensions of the Harris Teeter units, but similar ones average 8-by-8 feet.
Harris Teeter joins a growing number of retailers getting involved in the self-service coffee business.
Haggen, Bellingham, Wash., is testing freestanding coffee kiosks in three stores.
Haggen's kiosks are different from Harris Teeter's in that they dispense Haggen's coffee brand: TerraVida.
The 8-by-8-foot TerraVida Coffee Express kiosks — in test at Haggen's Top Food & Drug stores in Redmond, Federal Way and Kent, Wash., since December — sell about a dozen different coffee drinks, from regular coffee to iced mochas.
Prices for a 12-ounce serving range from $1.30 for brewed coffee to $2.60 for a mocha. Haggen runs occasional promotions such as “$1 Mocha Fridays.”
Concordia Coffee Systems, a Bellevue, Wash., coffee equipment maker, supplied the Haggen kiosks.
Concordia's self-service Seattle's Best espresso kiosks are also in operation at Albertsons stores.
Along with owning and maintaining its own kiosks, Concordia has sold about 100 kiosks to Coinstar. Three of those are the ones in use at Harris Teeter.
While Concordia has been managing coffee kiosks in convenience stores and restaurants for years, the supermarket side of the business is new.
Due to space limitations, the concept makes sense, said David Isett, Concordia's president.
“Self-serve is the way to go, particularly in supermarkets that are not large,” Isett told SN.
“With the push of a button, customers can create drinks - yet retailers don't have to deal with the high overhead,” he added.
Isett describes the machines as state-of-the-art, featuring expensive wood and upscale lighting.
“It has the look and feel as if you were walking into a cafe,” he said.