Coffee giant Starbucks has long flirted in the cryptocurrency and blockchain space with many often asking when people will be able to use Bitcoin to buy a cup of coffee at one of their stores. That may still be a long way off, but the Seattle-based company is looking to the blockchain.
Starbucks is reportedly looking to implement tech giant Microsoft’s Azure Blockchain Service to track coffee production. It is an unsurprising move with blockchain’s benefits for supply chain well documented and the push for fairtrade coffee being bigger than ever.
The implementation with blockchain is part of Starbucks’ “bean to cup” initiative which states the firm will work with farmers in Costa Rica, Colombia, and Rwanda to pilot a blockchain-based coffee-tracking system.
The system will purportedly allow customers to track the production of their coffee and on the other side of things, it has the potential to increase the financial opportunities for coffee farmers in these impoverished countries.
Starbucks’ technical bias
Although primarily a coffee company, Starbucks is starting to branch out into the technological space with blockchain just being one avenue they are pursuing. As mentioned previously, Starbucks is not looking to allow customers to buy coffee with Bitcoin, but they are happy to use the underlying technology to keep expanding their reach.
More so, at the announcement of their partnership with Microsoft at the software giant’s Build developers conference, the two companies explained a series of initiatives they are working on together.
The new projects include everything from using machine learning to gather customer preferences, to connecting coffeemakers in stores to the internet to blockchain services for tracing coffee.
Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella, appeared excited about the collaboration that will help Starbucks up its customer experience through technology.
“They are coming together to completely take what is that iconic experience that is Starbucks and incorporating digital throughout,” Nadella said.
Some of the examples that Starbucks is envisaging with the help of Microsoft and its blockchain services, as well as IoT and AI, is – for example – predictive drive-thru ordering where, based on previous order history, it will make suggestions via digital billboards.
Moreover, they are looking at connecting the coffee makers through the Azure cloud products to connect and secure the more than a dozen pieces of equipment in each of Starbucks’ stores
From coffee machines to grinders and blenders, Starbucks’ IoT-enabled machines could collect more than a dozen data points for every shot of espresso pulled, including type of beans, the temperature of a cup of coffee and water quality.