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‘It’s going to be like trying to get ice cream at McDonald’s’: Starbucks’ new machine Siren System Cold Bar sparks debate

‘Sorry the frap machine is down.’


Allyson Waller


As Starbucks continues to unveil its new machine automation, scrutiny and questioning have continued to mount, and one TikToker argued the new automation is not around to really help baristas—but to appeal to shareholders. 

In a recent TikTok video, user @nitetoast, who describes their account as a place for “corporate gossip,” shared their opinions on the new technology, highlighting a recent video posted by the company that showcases its “Siren System Cold Bar.”

@nitetoast notes how patrons and former employees mentioned the automation could be worse for stores’ workflow.

@nitetoast Even at my sickest I can’t resist bringing u guys the gos #starbucks #nitetoast #corporategossip ♬ original sound – Nitetoast | corporate gossip

“But most likely, Starbucks isn’t rolling out that machine for the baristas or for the patrons, they’re rolling it out for shareholders,” @nitetoast says. “Shareholders love automation.” 

@nitetoast goes on to claim that Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz has seen himself as a “benevolent capitalist” and is looking to make a splash ahead of him stepping down from his post next year.  

“It’s pretty clear he has two goals in mind: to avoid unionization and to increase the stock price before he departs at the end of the year,” @nitetoast says. “Fixing it with automation seems like the exact thing an out-of-touch billionaire and a bunch of MBAs would do.” 

“My take — ditch Starbucks and find a local place nearby,” @nitetoast commented on her post. 

Commenters noted how the new tech could present a challenge for workers. 

“‘Sorry the frap machine is down’ it’s going to be like trying to get ice cream at McDonald’s,” one commenter said. 

“As a Starbucks barista: this will slow down fraps. Starbucks tech is subpar and always breaks. We will need to CONSTANTLY fix this new system,” another commenter said. 

Starbucks Workers United, “a collective of Starbucks partners acoss the United States,” said on its website that more than 235 stores have unionized. The National Labor Relations Board has accused Starbucks in court filings of carrying out an anti-union campaign, according to the Washington Post. 

Starbucks did not respond to a request for comment via email from the Daily Dot concerning the claim it is using automation to appeal to shareholders. But in the comments section of the company’s recent TikTok video, it wrote that baristas shared that making cold beverages have become “too complex.” 

It also said the automated cold bar is still in early testing, and it’s hoping to move into the next phase “in the coming year.” 

“The news station was designed in collaboration with store partners to remove the tasks that don’t add to the handcrafted nature of making [a] beverage,” Starbucks said. 

The Daily Dot reached out to @nitetoast via TikTok comment and email.  

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