Houston, we have a soda

By:
09/15/2011

Leo J. O’Donovan Dining Hall has turned a new page. While complaining about Leo’s is a Georgetown pastime, the cafeteria has finally struck a change that will last. And no, we’re not talking about vegetable-infused water. We’re talking about the Coca-Cola Freestyle, the high-tech soda-bot next to the ice cream station. Overnight (or at least over the summer), Leo’s has entered the space age.

According to the Freestyle’s website, it offers more than 100 varieties of beverages. While the differences may be as subtle as “Coke Zero with lemon” and “Coke Zero with cherry,” the machine also offers non-carbonated beverages such as Powerade and Hi-C, which can also be infused with a number of flavors. The most prominent feature of the machine is its touch screen, an easy to use menu that shows off the assortment of drinks and indicates the beverages that are currently unavailable. In other words, the days of watered-down root beer are a thing of the past.

So this robot can tell a customer if a drink isn’t available. Big deal. But how do you test the horsepower of a machine like this? The real measure of the Freestyle’s power comes down to its potential to make wacky, oddball drinks. Most of the sodas (Sprite, Fanta, Coke, and their “Diet” versions) feature the same varieties of flavor additions. Unfortunately, the machine cannot mix more than one flavor into a drink, so the customer’s creativity is capped (although an exception is Coke Zero Cherry Vanilla, available in supermarkets nationwide). That said, flavor add-ins such as raspberry, strawberry, and peach give students a chance to make soda-flavor combinations that have been previously unavailable in stores.

While the Freestyle is limited by its inability to mix flavors, the logic to this restriction is understandable—after the thousandth student combined every flavor at once and discovered its inconsumable taste, the price of wasted soda would be a daunting figure. That said, isn’t the whole point of getting a machine like this to test its full potential? What’s the point of buying a Ferrari if you’re never going to drive faster than 50 miles per hour?

While the installation of this powerhouse soda-maker may be a tad self-indulgent, it is nonetheless a step in the right direction. Its installation is one small step for Leo’s, and one giant leap for mankind. That is, until the Freestyle starts reading students’ lips. Then we’re in trouble.

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John Sapunor


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