We wondered: How are our baristas and customers able to connect over coffee when the front-bar positioning and large size of our espresso machines are obscuring the baristas and the espresso craft? By moving the espresso engine below the counter and incorporating bottom fill espresso glasses we were able to open up the bar and, as if by magic, present delicious, swirling coffee and smooth crema right before our customers' eyes.
Initially developed and tested as a prototype in 2017, The Starbucks Engineering and Industrial Design teams partnered closely with long term supplier Thermoplan of Switzerland to commercialize Phantom, which recently debuted at in our SoDo Starbucks Reserve™ Store.
Phantom vs current espresso machinesStanton J Stephens
Design processStanton J Stephens
Phantom towerStanton J Stephens
Phantom unit top down viewStanton J Stephens
Manually dosing beans into bean funnelStanton J Stephens
Espresso ready to pourStanton J Stephens
Pouring espressoStanton J Stephens
Auto-rinse after dispenseOnce dispensing of espresso is complete, continue to turn the dial until 180 degrees, triggering the auto-rinse featureStanton J Stephens
Phantom Espresso in the Reserve Store in SeattleStanton J Stephens
The fluted vase-like form of the Tower builds on the heritage and romance of espresso equipment. It is crowned by a cantilevered bar and twin espresso glasses. This elegant treatment balances with purposeful detail. In front of the Tower, bean hoppers and sensory bowls invite customers to get closer to the beans, putting quality ingredients before them to see and smell.
After the shots of espresso appear before the customer, the glasses rotate toward the barista and the coffee pours into a cup below. Tactile treatments like the knurled bar handles create intuitive and delightful touchpoints for the barista.
The bottom-fill process not only compellingly presents the twin espresso shots, but it also produces clean, sweet flavor due to gravity keeping bitter particulates suspended in line.
After serving, the Phantom shot glasses flush with hot water, removing a cleaning step for the partner and another experiential moment for the customer. The bar then returns to the upright position.
By removing the equipment barrier above the counter, the same partner that made the beverage is now able to hand it directly to the customer to enjoy, completing the experience with another moment of connection.
"Experience" vs. "Peak" Mode
We wanted Phantom to be able to operate forboth higher volume and lower volume periods of the day. During busier times, the partner can select a bean hopper to automatically initiate the process. During quieter moments, the barista may manually dose beans from a countertop jar into the top of the Tower to begin the grinding process, which provides a heightened experience and may spark conversation.
Easy Clean Work Surface
As with all of our equipment, cleaning is a critical consideration. Phantom is easy to clean to allow our partners more time to connect with customers. The partner-facing angled grille hides mess from the customer's view while excess liquids are channeled directly into a sink basin below for drainage.