The Costa coffee shop, very much like the Starbucks coffee shop, is somewhere primarily selling coffee. It is made in a number of carefully prescribed combinations with tight controls on the way the franchise works and what exactly they sell.
The barista makes the coffee using a standard machine with milk, and steam, and coffee, and extras like syrups and cinnamon topping and so on. All very consistent, and nice. Apart from a lack of Marmite Paninis outside the UK Starbucks, it is all very standard.
But really - nothing it beyond a coffee machine here. The whole franchise, either of them, could be a machine, and would be if not for the love we all have of "the experience".
The coffee you buy is well defined and controlled and could really just be the product of a coffee machine, or a bank of ten of them for much faster service. Why do we need "barisas"?
So really what is the point of it all? Well, the whole experience is somehow what matters.
I go to any costa or starbucks with my wife within several hundred mile radius and she will have been there and they will be making her coffee before she gets to the till - not a word spoken and she has hers, and mine, served up. The people make it happen. They chat (not about her order, as they know that), and they make the coffee and serve it.
It has struck me for some time that they need systems so you wave your costa or Starbucks card at the start and it knows a "Sandra order" even if new to that location / franchise. But to be honest, I am not sure that would help.
It is amazing how they have made a business out of something a coffee machine could really just do. Yes, it is nice coffee, IMHO, but is not something a machine could not just make. We have deliberately non-automated machines and involve people in this just for the experience, and somehow that works.
I do wonder of the future - what happens when an interactive "human faced" robot is serving your coffee and chatting with you. It will come, but is that the future? Somehow the "coffee machine" is too impersonal, but maybe the "barista robot" will not be? Who knows. We live in interesting times.
P.S. To all Barristers, I did not mean the legal kind. Sorry for typo in first version of this blog.