Robo-Barista Serves Up Coffee in San Francisco

By Amy Klinkhammer | February 1, 2017 1:12 pm

(Credit: Cafe X)

A robo-rista is now optimizing customers’ coffee in the United States.

Café X, a robotic, coffee-brewing kiosk has just opened its windows on 4th Street in downtown San Francisco.

The “barista bots,” which are actually robotic-arms designed by Mitsubishi, are the first of their kind in the United States, joined only by their sisters-in-arms serving hot brew in kiosks in Hong Kong. They may not be chatty, but they definitely know how to make your favorite latte just right.

Eight-ounce beverages can be ordered either in-person using the kiosk’s iPad menus or directly from a phone via the Café X mobile app. For now, they’re keeping things simple with just seven selections to choose from – all starting at $2.25.

Running late? Café X will remake your drink if it sits for more than eight minutes – and when you come to pick it up, the piping-hot redo will be free of charge.

The drinks also come with a cornucopia of customization options. For starters, customers will get to select the beans for their brew – with providers like Peet’s, Verge and Oakland-based Aka, to name a few. There’s also a wealth of flavor add-ons including organic milk, sugar, spices and a variety of syrups.

Concerns have bubbled up from those who fear the proliferation of “robo-cafes” will lead to the extinction of our beloved local coffee shops. Café X founder and CEO Henry Hu affirmed that this is not at all his goal.

“This won’t replace baristas or the coffee shop experience that so many people have come to love—we don’t aim to do that. What we’re offering is the best possible experience for people who are looking for consistent specialty coffee to-go,” Hu said recently in a statement.

Hu aims to have Café X baristas installed in local offices, civic centers and airports within the year. And hey, at least we know they won’t spell our names wrong.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology, Uncategorized
MORE ABOUT: robots
  • Uncle Al

    Tattoo the arms. Perfect.

  • OWilson

    That’s hardly “coffee to go”.

    I get out of bed, push a button, and 15 seconds later have a cup of the best cafe I can buy.

    No shower, no dress, no drive, no line up, no debit card, no “out of order” complaints.

    Now that’s NI :)

    • rexxander

      So? Technology declines in cost over time. I’m sure they could make something like this for the home – for the person that likes variety and doesn’t mind a high end device.
      I would suspect, though, that with my experiences in the work place most coffee is not consumed at home. So, the “coffee to go” is putting one of these on the common level of office buildings instead of having to run to Starbucks, or wherever.

      • OWilson

        You are right, of course, but folks get addicted to their favorite morning caffeine shot, even the type of cup/mug/paper/plastic container, the ability to fine tune it with a specific amount of specific sweeteners, and cream, milk, and so on.

        Hard to incorporate in a non interactive machine.

        I see my fellow workers go out of our building in the rain, for their Starbucks, and Tim Horton, in spite of the fact that our Food Court has at least a dozen coffee vendors.

        It just so happens that my Keurig with the McCafe pod replicates a taste that I formerly got, buying expensive freshly roasted beans and grinding them myself. Even the temperature (another important factor) is perfect for drinking.

        Love my technology, but I wouldn’t invest in that company.

        • rexxander

          Easier and cheaper ways to get to the end result are hard to compete with.
          Keurig – the technology I love and love to hate. If it weren’t so damned wasteful. I’ve got one at home, too. Mostly for hot tea and iced tea.
          I don’t get too attached to specific tastes, so typically whatever is convenient and cheap works the best for me.
          I heard the guy that invented the Keurig is all messed up about how much waste it causes.

          • OWilson

            It’s all relative.

            I have an “environmentally aware” nephew who regularly drives 30 km to get his “expresso”.

            What kind of carbon footprint would THAT be?

          • rexxander

            lol! Once in a great while at one of my previous employers we (the team) would all go to Starbucks, which was like 4 or 5 miles away. Not horribly efficient – but at least it was only once in a while.
            We really needed to make a deal with Starbucks to have a place nearby or in the building.


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