Note: We're not sure if this is the first ever vending machine to hit the island, but it's one of the early arrivers.
I've never found vending machines particularly exciting – except in the case of FEBO, a Dutch wonder machine that dispenses actual food. Like hamburgers and fried cheese.
However, I'm told that Sri Lanka's first (?) public vending machine is an exciting event that warrants a review.
Perhaps because it's taken us a grand total of 2231 years to get one. The first vending machine was pioneered in 215 BC by Greek mathematician Hero. It accepted bronze coins in exchange for holy water.
This sounds a lot cooler than grubby Rs. 100 notes for EGB, but I suppose you've got to start somewhere.
If you have neither the time nor inclination to pop downstairs to Keells, navigate the mazy Liberty Place to locate Bata on the Ground Floor. Near it you'll find the vending machine. Pristine, new and ready to serve.
There are two machines that operate using the same input system. You have a hot drinks dispenser on the left and snacks and cold drinks on your right. Instructions are available in all three languages, and its very simple to use. Note that a Rs. 30 service charge is included in the prices. Both coins and notes are accepted.
Perhaps this is the future of the kade. Perhaps this is the first step towards instant shorteats.
Currently, however, it's very good for when you urgently require a pack of Chickbits and simply can't spare 5 minutes to go to the supermarket downstairs.
I chose the coffee with milk (Rs. 120), opting for the sweet option. The other option was bitter, which, I mean, why.
The arrival of my coffee was heralded by a beeping sound. Extricating it from the holder was a bit scary – the cup is made of flimsy plastic and requires a firm downward tug to release. There seems to be fair potential for spillage here, so exercise great caution.
Tastewise, the coffee was fine and lighter on the sugar front than a desserty Nescafe. Other options include Hazelnut Cappucino (Rs. 140), Cream Chocolate (Rs. 140) and a couple of teas (Rs. 100-120).
My Milo, procured from the snack side, arrived promptly, was suitably chilled and served its purpose. It cost Rs. 60, which is only Rs. 10 more than what our nearest kade charges.
What The People Say
Speaking to someone who works at one of the Liberty Plaza offices, I asked whether the machine has had a positive impact on her life. She replied "I've not used it yet because of the Keells. People stare at it and walk by. I've yet to see someone use it."
She did, however, Instagram it.