$25,000 Automated Barista Makes 120 Cups of Coffee per Hour
The robot revolution is here, at least for your morning caffeine fix. Cafe X Technologies is a new, $25,000 automated barista designed by the award-winning team behind Dr. Dre's Beats headphones and speakers: the Ammunition Group. The Jetsons-style coffeemaker can sling 120 cups of joe per hour at specs that satisfy finicky roasters (and project partners) like Intelligentsia, Ritual and Equator.
The robo unit is essentially a fully operational café beneath a six-axis animatronic arm. Customers place orders on a kiosk touchscreen or via the Cafe X app and receive a text when the drink is ready, after around a minute of preparation. Like at a regular coffeehouse, you get a multitude of beverage options: latte, single-origin espresso, matcha latte, cortado and so on, and with different types of frothy milk, including organic Swedish oat milk. Even the robot gestures are crafted to evoke a true coffee bar experience. As it presents each cup to customers, the machine offers a sweeping "ta-da!" gesture.
"We knew a robot could create an exceptional cup of coffee, but we also wanted it to appear warm and friendly," said inventor Henry Hu, 24, who conceived the idea in his second year at Babson College after being stuck in a coffee line for too long at an airport. "The baristas to me looked like factory workers," he said. "They were moving cups around and pushing buttons, which made me think, 'I bet we can build a product that automates these boring tasks way more efficiently."
With high demand and an even higher curiosity factor, Cafe X is focused on scaling its manufacturing capabilities in 2018 and will be launching additional locations in 2019. It's part of a growing robo-boom in the food and beverage world. Panera is testing self-serving kiosks to increase efficiency, and pizza robot company Zume has generated $48 million in funding, with plans to service Bay Area delivery cravings by the end of this year.
Public perception may be the biggest sticking point. As Calacanis admitted, "With robotics, there's a right and wrong way to do it, and if you're not careful from an experience and design standpoint, things can get creepy."
Hu isn't worried. "I don't see the robot revolution as a problem," he said. "The idea isn't to scare you or harm you in any way. The point is to get you your coffee as quickly and deliciously as possible."
Read more at CNBC.