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On a recent trip to San Francisco, I enjoyed a steaming hot bowl of ramen that was fast, delicious… and came from a vending machine. Last week, PanPacific unveiled a beer vending machine that uses biometrics to verify the age of the buyer. Briggo announced this week that it is opening up a second automated Coffee Haus robo barista at the Austin airport.

We are entering the golden age vending machines, and I am totally here for it. (You will be too.)

No longer dull black boxes with half-filled coils of Doublemint gum and Texas-sized cinnamon buns, vending machines are increasingly complex devices that are equal parts robot and IoT-connected automated storefronts.

All this is to say that vending machines are the new food court. Only this food court 2.0 requires little real estate, no on-site staff, and can operate around the clock in busy places like airports, hospitals and dorms. Need a meal before your 6 a.m. flight? No problem!

But all the automation and convenience in the world is useless if these machines serve a cruddy product. The good news is, they don’t. Briggo roasts its own high-end coffee. Yo-Kai Express’ menu was created by a Michelin-star chef. And PanPacific’s beer vending machine can be outfitted to serve any kind of craft brew to satisfy even the most discerning of palates.

Vending machines are also poised to change the way we eat. The smaller footprint means more meal choices in a smaller space. The connected devices will provide data on inventory and sales for more accurate and efficient supply chain and logistics. Taken together, this will mean hungry people, especially those in a hurry, will have more and healthier meal choices (and will spend more money).

That sure beats a sad row of Texas Sized Cinnamon Buns.

Elsewhere, it’s felt a bit like the Battle of Winterfell here at The Spoon over the past month, trying to keep up with all the plant-based protein news. While Beyond Meat is set to go public this week, Impossible Whoppers will be available at all 7,000+ Burger Kings by the end of the year. Fake meat is going mainstream, baby! Though, all that demand is generating its own problems, as we learned that Impossible is having a hard time keeping up.

To help you understand the onslaught of plant-based protein news, Catherine Lamb, The Spoon’s own Arya Stark, launched our Future Food newsletter this week. In addition to slaying, she’ll break down all the innovation, deals and developments in the world of alternate-protein you need to know. Sign up for it here!

Also, we’ve been launching our full session videos from The Spoon’s ArticulATE conference last month in San Francisco. Check out talks with Creator, Albertsons, Starship and Auto X, as well as a presentation from the Director of Google Brain.

Finally, with ArticulATE in the books, we’re busy working on our flagship food tech executive summit, SKS 2019, where we’ll be talking about the future of food, the kitchen, food robots and more! You’ll want to be sure to be in Seattle in October, and as a newsletter subscriber you can get 15% off our Ultra-Early Bird pricing by using the discount code NEWSLETTER.

Until next week!

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