When Robotic Baristas makes your cup of latte during your morning coffee run, instead of your favourite 'human' barista, what would you think? But, with artificial intelligence spreading throughout every industry, it is just a matter of time before robots master the art of making coffee too.
Today, setting up automated coffee bars is not an unfamiliar topic amongst cafe owners. However, robotic baristas may soon outnumber regular baristas with more advanced operating modes, competitive prices, and improved customer experience.
This article aims to shed some light on the current options that exist in the robotics market today.
The fast-food industry is notorious for its competitive nature and high employee turnover. In this regard, robotic baristas can become business lifesavers. Artificial intelligence will likely take over coffee-making soon.
They never get tired. They won't quit or ask for a sick day.
Moreover, they can easily tend to a coffee-craving crowd without any missteps—delivering a perfectly brewed java real quick (and safe, given the pandemic).
Moreover, robotic baristas allow entrepreneurs to kick off a coffee shop at a record pace since business owners don't have to recruit and train. A robotic cafe also doesn't require much space, unlike a traditional coffee bar. Because of these reasons, it is no wonder that the adoption of robotics in the food and beverages segment is likely to outrun traditional industries.
As the idea of a robotic cafe may be a plausible shared reality tomorrow, let's look into some of the robotic baristas that may be serving you your coffee in the near future.
What to Think About Before Picking a Robotic Barista?
When one aspires to open a robotic cafe or is thinking of pleasing their employees with an in-house coffee spot, there are several questions to tackle before picking a robotic barista:
- What solution are you looking for—a simple automated vending kiosk, automated kiosk with robots, or a full-blown robotic barista?
- Does it require a water supply and drainage connection?
- Are there branding and design customization options?
- What’s the technical support cost?
- What is the maximum throughput per day?
- How long is the average preparation time per one drink?
- What coffee drinks are available?
- Can the barista add milk and syrup?
- Does the barista provide statistics on the coffee consumed?
- Do you want the barista to greet and amuse customers?
The checklist can vary depending on individual needs. However, it provides an overview of what a person should be looking into aside from pricing. As soon as these details have been fleshed out, the next part is where the fun begins — getting to know what robots are capable of.
Spoiler: of many things.
Best Robotic Baristas, Pros and Cons
Although the market for automated coffee spots is still developing, the choice of robotic baristas is rather extensive. We've decided to list the most advanced solutions and write down their pros and cons. Let's find out which of these inhuman coffee artists is the best one.
BaristaBot by Costa Coffee
You may not have heard about BaristaBot by Costa Coffee because originally, it was known as Briggo, an automated vending kiosk allowing you to order your favourite drink via an app.
The startup from Texas debuted on the coffee scene in 2011 and was on its way to win over American airports—until COVID-19 hit. Recently, Briggo was acquired by Costa Coffee. However, with their plans under wraps, not much is known about new BaristaBot versions and pricing.
- Easy to Set Up and Maintain: BaristaBot is easy to place even in the tiniest locations with a high traffic flow;
- Great Output: BaristaBot can deliver up to 100 coffee cups per hour;
- Wide Range of Drinks: Customers loved Briggo for their loyalty program and diverse coffee card including both coffee and tea with gourmet syrups;
- Great Coffee Quality: Briggo used to roast the coffee themselves to achieve a recognizable taste;
- High Speed: The average wait time is about two minutes;
- Safety and Convenience: All orders are made via an intuitive mobile app.
- Vending Machine: At the end of the day, BaristaBot is a high-end vending machine, not a complete barista replacement;
- Not For Sale: Since CostaCoffee is the sole owner of the kiosk, it’s unlikely the solution will be available for sale.
BaristaBot is an excellent option for busy locations. However, it's just an automated kiosk, and, with CostaCoffee involved, the solution won't be accessible to other businesses.
Cafe X generated tons of buzz when it first opened in 2015. Like other robotic barista solutions, the company aspires to offer consistent quality coffee at a better price, although it doesn't roast coffee on its own.
At the heart of this robotic barista coffee bar is a six-axis robotic arm that greets and serves customers with drinks of different flavours. Despite being a high-tech solution, Cafe X prides itself on being a mediator between humans and machines. At least one regular employee watches over the robot, meaning customers aren't deprived of human contact.
- Easy to Set Up: Cafe X can be easily installed at a busy place;
- Great Show: The robotic arm makes a spectacle while welcoming onlookers and serving coffee;
- Customization: Cafe X offers customization options to its clients in terms of panel colour and branding. The solution can also be adjusted to deliver a unique coffee experience thanks to their partnership with roasters;
- High Speed: It takes about forty seconds to prepare a latte!
- Remote Ordering: The system by Cafe X is intuitive and allows to order drinks remotely via its mobile application;
- Wide Range of Drinks: Cafe X boasts of a great coffee card. The drinks range varies from espresso to matcha, cold brews, and lemonades;
- Safety and Convenience: All payments are made with a bank card or smartphone.
- Harder to Maintain: Cafe X requires the presence of at least one employee on-site;
- Expensive Solution: The price for Cafe X is rather high and estimates up to $250,000 for a solution;
- Not Automated That Much: Looks like Cafe X doesn’t substitute humans to the full extent and needs to be taken more care of.
Cafe X is an impressive robotic coffee bar. However, it's an expensive solution, not to say that cafe owners still need at least one employee to watch over the robotic barista during the day.
This German barista is based on two collaborative KUKA robots and is promoted as a premium option enhancing the hospitality experience. The solution is developed with the participation of Harald Rohrmose, a top-notch culinary expert.
One of the most notable things about KNEXT is that their robotic barista can use both take-out and porcelain cups. Another remarkable feature about the barista is that the robots grasped the art of latte.
- Easy to Set Up: KNEXT occupies less space than a regular coffee shop so it’s easy to set up in various areas;
- Customization: The team behind KNEXT is ready to change the appearance of the kiosk according to their customers’ vision;
- Great Output: The barista can serve up to 100 cups per hour;
- Porcelain Cups: KNEXT uses both take-out and porcelain cups with great care;
- Less Noise: The manufacturers claim that the barista produces less noise while maintaining high productivity levels;
- Wide Range of Drinks: KNEXT coffee card includes 15 coffee specialities and 4 milk types;
- Robotic Latte Art: If you ever wondered what microfoam patterns a robotic barista can make, you should watch KNEXT doing its magic!
- No Mass Sales: At this time, it’s not possible to buy this robotic barista as it’s still a work in progress;
- Expensive Solution: KNEXT is a luxury product and is more expensive than other solutions. The price for the barista is about €280,000.
KNEXT is a premium-class product and is still unavailable for mass sales. Therefore, the adoption of this robotic barista may take a while!
Once part of GBL Robotics, MontyCafe is a Moscow-based company developing automated coffee houses similar to Cafe X.
MontyCafe hasn't focused on coffee alone. The robotic barista sitting in a transparent kiosk can serve ice cream, muffins, and juice. MontyCafe has coffee spots in Russia, UAE, South Korea, and one in the United States.
- Easy to Set Up: MontyCafe doesn’t need much space or water connections to start functioning. The kiosk comes in several variations to fit a particular location, like an airport or shopping mall;
- Great Show: The robot, Monty, entertainingly interacts with customers and immediately draws their attention;
- Great Output: The robot can serve from 80 up to 120 drinks per hour;
- Friendly Design: Robotic bars come in several designs that can be of particular interest to children (especially the robotic barista itself);
- Affordable: The price for setting up such a bar starts with $20,000;
- Wide Range of Drinks and Sweets: You can find many snacks and drinks in MontyCafe—from cupcakes to ice cream and lemonades.
- No Coffee Philosophy: MontyCafe isn’t about coffee itself, so there is no coffee philosophy behind the brand;
- Poor Coffee Quality: Another issue MontyCafe has with coffee is that their drinks taste bad due to mediocre coffee equipment;
- Poor Material Quality: While the price for MontyCafe is attractive, it raises concerns over the quality of materials used and the solution itself;
- No Mobile Application: The mobile application for buying drinks and sweets remotely is under development.
MontyCafe is an excellent and budget-friendly pick for amusement parks or other places to visit with children. However, it still has a long way to go to saturate the market and build a brand.
Rozum Café has only one employee—the robotic arm PULSE by Rozum Robotics—and it doesn't simply serve coffee beverages. It brews them!
An apprentice of one of the world's best baristas, this robotic barista uses professional espresso equipment to make coffee from start to finish—with no human interference at all. It isn't a vending machine or a futuristic waiter, but a true coffee master.
- Easy to Set Up and Maintain: Rozum Café is 100% autonomous and doesn’t need water and sewage connections. It also comes with a one-year warranty and comprehensive training and maintenance program. Another advantage is that Rozum Café uses its in-house robotic solution simplifying the process of providing clients with technical support;
- Sight to Behold: Unlike other solutions, the robotic barista brews coffee—and it’s fascinating to watch and try out!
- Customization: Rozum Café providers can customize the kiosk design to fit your brand image and add more technical features to the solution;
- Great Output: Within a shift (12 hours), the barista makes about 400 coffee cups and provide the owner with reports on the drinks made;
- High Speed: It takes only one minute to make an espresso;
- Great Coffee Quality: Being taught by a real coffee craftsman and using special blends of good coffee beans, the robotic barista surely knows its way around coffee!
- Wide Range of Drinks: Rozum Café has a varied coffee menu, from espresso to latte. Depending on the customer’s wish, the robot can add one of the available syrup types and be taught to make drinks not listed in the standard menu;
- Safety and Convenience: The payments are made via a card or phone preventing infection from spreading.
- No Cash Accepted: Only card and phone payments are available;
- No Tea Menu: For the moment, Rozum Café visitors can’t enjoy tea.
With an average cost of $120,000, Rozum Café is a wise choice for anyone striving to launch a coffee shop in a close location with minimal effort.
Best Robotic Baristas Options
Here is a summary of the top robotic baristas available today that may arrive in your neighbourhood soon:
- BaristaBot by Costa Coffee
- Cafe X
- Rozum Café
The Bottom Line
Automated cafes are a new trend, and they're here to stay. Business owners should view them as an opportunity to solve the fast-food labour shortage, not only as a fancy trick to get the spotlight.
Meanwhile, for us coffee lovers, it means that eventually, there will be more robotic baristas brewing javas, especially in crowded venues. So you'd better master this new art of coffee—together with your new robotic friend, of course.
While robots are learning the art of making coffee drinks, why not spend your time learning how to make coffee desserts? Check out our simple recipe for making coffee jelly, a delightful Japanese coffee dessert.