Coffee & Tea Roundup: Robot Tea, Unionized Baristas, & Starbucks Does Nespresso

By Neat Pour Staff |

In the worlds of teas and coffee, much was, er, brewing this week. Nestlé’s long term strategy after shelling out billions to ‘partner’ with Starbucks became clear. A Michigan coffee chain closed their shops following unionization and the robots are coming for your tea. Check out all the details below.

Da’ Pods… (Courtesy Nestlé)

Nestlé Rollls Out Starbucks Pods for Nespresso Machines

In May 2018, Nestlé dropped about $7.15 billion to partner with Starbucks. Now, almost a year to the day later, Americans are about to taste the fruits of that alliance. In roughly two weeks, they will be able to purchase Starbucks coffee in pods for their Nespresso (a Nestlé subsidiary) machines.

“Starbucks by Nespresso is a product that we have been very excited about since the formation of the Global Coffee Alliance,” said Tony Matta, president of Nestlé Starbucks Coffee in a release. “Within this partnership, we are constantly searching for ways to elevate the at-home experience, and Starbucks by Nespresso is the perfect way to bring a new, exciting coffee experience into the homes of our customers.”

After a successful trial run in Europe, the States are slated to see 16 Nespresso-ready pods (plus 24 new varieties in k-cups) roll out during the first week of May. According to the company, “the offerings will include “signature Starbucks blends and single-origin coffees, as well as a selection of classic beverages such as Caramel Macchiato and Cappuccino.”

Look for them at your local, mega-chain supermarket or online at Amazon.com, Walmart.com and Jet.com.

 

Workers standing up for their jobs (Courtesy WACA FB)

Coffee Shop Shutters All Locations After Union Vote

Workers at Mighty Good Coffee in Ann Arbor, Michigan are on the picket lines—and likely out of their jobs. The employees are protesting after the mini-chain announced that all four of their locations will be closing—an action the employees say is the result of a recent decision to unionize.

In October, the workers formed the Washtenaw Area Coffee Workers’ Association Baristas (WACWA) and requested the start of contraction negations as well as the resolution of a grievance alleging racial discrimination. 

However, a new contract was never signed. Instead, last week, the company decided to shutter their shops and lay off the union-workers on “four days notice” according to a video posted to WACWA’s Facebook page.

In the video, spokesperson Alec Hershman explained that (former) employees were protesting, but the outlook is uncertain. “We haven’t heard directly from the owners,” he said. “They seem to be in hiding at the moment. We’re mad and we’re in a precarious position. We lost our jobs.”

The non-unionized roasting end of the business will continue to operate according to local media reports.

Both Mighty Good ownership and WACA declined multiple media interview requests. Mighty Goods’ social media accounts appeared to have been taken down as well.

 

AI Tea Shops? Sure!

The tea world may be burdened with a reputation for formality, but tea drinkers are mighty fast to welcome our new robot overlords. Dutch asset management shop Greenfield Capital Group announced that they are committing to a significant investment in, er, smart tea.

Smart Tea is a concept pushed by the beneficiary of Greenfield’s largess, AI Tea. AI Tea is an outfit creating fully automated milk tea shops with the help of lots of tech. The plan is to implement said tech in existing stores (the company claims to have 10 “famous tea chains” controlling 10,000 stores under contract already) as well as in new spaces sized 9-12 meters.

Customers will order via app and a robot will prepare their milk tea and then deliver it to a take-out window. The process is slated to clock in at under 60 seconds—start to finish. AI Tea. AI claims that the stores will require only one human employee to restock the machines, saving companies millions in labor costs.

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