Finally, a barista who won’t misspell your name.
At Café X in San Francisco, the baristas there do not have tattoos and glasses, but rather, they have mechanical arms and LEGO-like hands.
That’s right. At this coffee shop, the baristas are robots.
Ordering here is pretty simple. A display table shows the menu, which consists of several specialty coffees, as well as non-caffeinated drinks like matcha latte and hot chocolate. Customers then place their orders in real-time via an iPad kiosk or in advance via smartphone.
The cost of a drink is between US$3 (AUS$3.8) and US$6 (AUS$7.6), which Café X founder and CEO Henry Hu says is “less than Starbucks.”
Once the order is ready for pick-up, customers just have to key in a code provided by the app, and the robot will deliver their cup of coffee to an assigned window. No more misspelled or mispronounced names! Not to mention, no tipping needed!
Just think of it as a cross between a barista and a vending machine. Your drink is prepared instantly (about a minute, to be exact) but without compromising the quality.
“If you’re looking for really good coffee, you often have to wait for a very long time, and if you’re in rush, you have to settle for very bad coffee,” Hu told Fast Company.
“We thought that by applying some automation and using mobile for placing orders, it would be possible to have really good coffee, but still really quickly.”
But don’t worry about robots taking barista jobs just yet. According to Sam Blum, the Café X community manager, the machines actually help baristas do the best part of their job – which is to connect with people.
“During peak times in cafes, baristas can be really bogged down, and can’t interact with even their favorite customers,” he told Eater SF. “Having the robot move the cups around and prepare the drinks allows us to interact more with customers.”
He added: “Our product specialists go through barista training, so they can talk about the drinks as baristas do.”
Café X has raised US$5 million (AUS$6.3 million) in seed funding from venture capital and angel investors. Its Hong Kong site (which is right next to a Starbucks) currently serves more than 1,000 cups a week.
You can find out more about Café X here.