31st January 2017
Cafe X Technologies launches robotic cafe
Cafe X Technologies, a new startup based in San Francisco, yesterday opened its first robotic cafe in the U.S. By combining machine learning and robotics, it aims to eliminate the variabilities that bog down today’s coffee experience.
Cafe X Technologies, in partnership with WMF (a leading international maker of coffee machines), has developed a fully automated robotic cafe that integrates hardware and software to blend the functionality of baristas with specialty coffee preparation methods. Cafe X sets itself apart by removing the on-site wait time, the potential for preparation error, and other unexpected variability – which it claims will set a new standard for automation technology and the specialty coffee service industry.
“I’ve long been a big coffee consumer and there’s never a guaranteed seamless experience,” says founder and CEO, 23-year-old Henry Hu. “In today’s world, you have two options for getting a cup of coffee: you’re either in and out with something subpar or you’re waiting in a 15-minute line for a great cappuccino. I started Cafe X to eliminate that inherent compromise and give people access to a tasty cup of coffee consistently and conveniently.”
Customers can order customised espresso-based beverages on the spot at the ordering kiosk, or they can download the Cafe X app onto their mobile device to order in advance. Once the beverage is ready, they use touch screens on the cafe to type in a 4-digit order number which is either sent via text message or displayed on the Cafe X mobile app for iOS and Android. The Mitsubishi robot arm will then identify the customer’s drink from the waiting stations and deliver it to them within seconds.
The machine is very fast – capable of preparing up to 120 drinks per hour, depending on the complexity of the orders. Customers can choose the brand of beans and customise the amount of milk and flavours used.
“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,” says Hu. “What we’re offering is the best possible experience for people who are looking for consistent specialty coffee to-go.”
Cafe X has formed unique partnerships with local roasters to source specific premium ingredients and create unique drinks which are programed into the automated coffee systems. The menu prices start at $2.25 for an 8 oz cup and will vary depending on the customer’s coffee bean selection which includes single origin options.
“There’s an entire segment of the consumer population that’s not buying coffee because it doesn’t fit into their present moment,” says John Laird, CEO of AKA Roasters. “We’re truly excited to partner with the Cafe X team to expand to those customers we might not otherwise reach.”
This machine has been installed at San Francisco's Metreon shopping centre. Hu is now in talks with a number of San Francisco-based tech companies to install Cafe X kiosks in their offices.
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