In California, a new cafe employs a robotic arm as a barista.

Cafe X is the name of a new startup that’s hoping to put a high-tech twist to your morning coffee routine. Instead of employing out-of-work liberal arts majors, it’s putting a large robotic arm in charge of your coffee brewing. Founder Henry Hu noticed that in your average coffee shop, the barista spends most of his time simply moving cups around. Figuring that this is a job an industrial robot could do just as easily, he decided to build a mechanized coffee shop. Hu wagers that Café X will increase margins within the industry while reducing wait times for hurried patrons.

The shop uses a Mitsubishi 6-axis industrial robot and is backed by a USD 5 million (SGD 7 million) seed fund raised last year from Khosla Ventures, Social Capital, Jason Calacanis, Felicis Ventures, Silicon Valley Bank and The Thiel Foundation. This follows a trend in silicon valley of increased automation in retail and food businesses. Last September saw the launch of robot-assisted pizza shop Zume Pizza in Palo Alto, and we have already covered Amazon’s new grab-and-go supermarket Amazon Go.

Cafe X founder Henry Hu

Cafe X first sprung up on the other side of the pacific, at the Hong Kong Science Park, but its second location is the newly opened US shop at the AMC Metreon cinema in San Francisco. Customers will be able to order espresso drinks with milk and flavorings from on-site kiosks and through a dedicated app. Visitors have their choice of beans from AKA Coffee, Verve Roasters and Peet’s Coffee, operating on the idea of each shop sourcing local coffee brands.

As fascinated as we all are with robots, many customers may be reluctant to dive into the trend of increased automation, citing fears of lost job opportunities or just a general sense of lifelessness that a robot server brings. Of course, consumers will be directly benefiting from the automation as well. Efficiency, and avoiding barista wages, means a lot of savings that get passed onto the customer. Cafe X is asking just $2.25 for an 240ml drink that regularly goes for $4 – $5 in San Francisco.

source: TechCrunch