Coffee by drone?


If ever there was an idea whose time has come in this age of lockdown, it is delivery by drone.

Wing, a drone delivery company owned by Google parent company Alphabet, is conducting tests of its technology and services in several markets around the world, with products ranging from first aid kits to freshly baked cupcakes — because you never know when or where a cupcake emergency can arise.

Last weekend in Christiansburg, Virginia, the four-year-old roasting and retail company Brugh Coffee became the first coffee provider to send a cup of coffee into the wild blue yonder by way of a Wing drone.

That first cup of coffee, with a pastry as its copilot, took to the skies over Christiansburg on April 4. Of the many that have flown since then, none have crashed or spilled so far, according to Brugh Coffee Co-Founder Luke Brugh.

“Our first day was a big success,” Brugh told DCN. “We probably sold about 50% more on some of our products than we normally do in our storefront.”

The coffee company and the drone company have been in touch since the latter launched in Christiansburg last year. Brugh catered Wing’s launch events, and has since then made regulars of multiple Wing staffers in its Christiansburg cafe.

“They frequently ask customers what they would like delivered by drone, and coffee and baked goods have consistently been at the top of the list,” said Brugh. “It took a couple of months from the first conversation until the actual launch. So, it’s been a process like these things normally are.”

Brugh and Wing have been collaborating to determine which products are fit to fly. Initial offerings via drone will be limited to a few baked goods, whole beans and cold brew, and Brugh said the selection will grow from there.

“Starting with a small menu is intentional since we’re the first coffee shop or roaster in the USA to do drone delivery, so this is completely new territory,” said Brugh. “It’s been great because we’re both focused on the customer experience.”

“Right now, we’re focused on the trial in Christiansburg, but we’d love to bring our service to many more homes around the world,” Wing Marketing and Communications Associate Jacob Demmitt told Daily Coffee News. “Drone delivery can reduce road congestion, lower emissions and make people safer by removing cars from the road. In crises such as this time, our technology can provide access to critical medication, food and other necessities. It can help limit human-to-human contact, and support local businesses that are suffering from reduced foot traffic and sales.”