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The best (and worst) vending machines on the Tempe campus

Echo reporter Alexis Moulton spent a week finding the best vending machines at Tempe for every occasion so you don't have to


Vending machines: The reason State Press Photo Editor Alex Gould is broke. Photo Illustration originally published Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021.

In an era when to-go coffee stops and UberEats food delivery reign supreme, it has become easy to overlook the convenience and charm of vending machines. We often forget that a Monster energy drink and a bag of peanut M&Ms — the lunch of champions — are usually only a few hallways away.

Sometimes it seems like the hunt for a vending machine itself is a lost art form. While you can find all the nearest Starbucks on Google Maps in a matter of seconds, finding the nearest vending machine still requires some know-how and creativity.

I've spent the past week on a mission to find the best and worst vending machines on ASU's Tempe campus so that you don't have to. Next time you're killing a couple of hours in between classes, try a couple of these snack time havens out for yourself. Just don't die in the process.

Hydration Stations

Sun Devil Fitness Complex

It's rare to find a vending machine that dispenses multiple different types of water, but it makes sense that the SDFC houses the best stop on campus for H2O. There you can find several vending machines with two or more rows of bottled water options, as well as sports drinks for electrolyte-deprived athletic types. 

(I'm still doubtful that many of you are working out hard enough to justify those 32-ounce Gatorades. No shade though.)

Of course, the campus is full of water fountains, and I can't exactly ethically recommend excessive plastic bottle usage. But if you're buying water from a vending machine, I'll assume you're already having a bad day and give you a pass this time.


Memorial Union basement

A favorite student study spot, the MU's basement features more than a never-ending Subway line and a questionable Burger King. It's also home to arguably the most versatile vending machine pitstop on campus.

Not only does this vending oasis feature a wide array of drink and snack options, but it also comes equipped with a microwave oven and a MidFirst bank ATM. No cash? No problem.

You're in your twenties though. You should probably start carrying cash.

The Red Bull refrigerator is pictured at Charlie’s Coffee inside Hayden Library on the Tempe campus on Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021.

For the caffeine queens

Hayden Library's Charlie's Cafe

You were up all night studying for your differential equations midterm but you've still got to get through a 3 p.m. organic chemistry lecture. Today is going to be hell. You're going to need wings.

Luckily, Charlie's Cafe in Hayden Library has a refrigerator devoted entirely to Red Bull, featuring multiple different flavors and sizes. Though this isn't a standalone vending machine, strictly speaking, its unique devotion to the classic best-selling energy drink is a perfect fit for those students who rely just a little bit too much on caffeine to get through the semester. Charlie's Cafe, as the name implies, also sells coffee for those who prefer bean juice. 


COVID-19 test vending machines

Did your roommate come back from a night out coughing up a storm and reportedly "can't taste their toothpaste?" Do they swear it's not COVID? Don't worry, there's a vending machine for that too. 

Stop by any of the Devils' drop-off COVID-19 testing sites on the Tempe campus to grab a quick saliva test and quell your pandemic anxiety. I wouldn't recommend it for snack though.

Least dependable

Hayden Library's P.O.D. Market

If you've ever been to this "Provisions on Demand" P.O.D. Market on the other side of Hayden Library, you know how empty, dysfunctional and depressing this snack spot can be. The coffee machine almost never works, the shelves are always empty and the refrigerators are full of melting ice cream and incredibly unappetizing cheese sticks. 

Zero out of 10. Avoid at all costs.

Best for your budget

W. P. Carey School of Business

Look, I love an iced chai latte and cake pop breakfast as much as the next mentally debilitated college student, but my bank account does not. Vending machines provide a (slightly) more affordable refreshment option when your heart says yes but your budget books say no.

The two vending machines located right outside of the W. P. Carey School of Business Starbucks are there for you and your slowly compounding student debt. They're perfectly positioned to arouse that familiar pang of guilt right before you spend eight bucks on an iced coffee you're only going to drink half of anyway.

Reach the reporter at and follow @lexmoul on Twitter. 

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