What the barista at Cafe X lacks in human warmth it makes up for in efficiency. Customers input orders into a digital kiosk and receive their coffee by way of a robotic arm.
After opening their first store in the Hong Kong Science Park, Cafe X recently launched a second location at the AMC Metreon in San Francisco, TechCrunch reports. Though the setup may look intimidating, purchasing a drink is simple. Patrons with the Cafe X app can skip the kiosk and place an order directly from their phones. When the coffee is automatically brewed to perfection, customers punch their order numbers into a touch screen and the Mitsubishi industrial robot arm delivers the drinks seconds later.
It’s easy to imagine similar robots replacing human employees in coffee shops around the world, but Cafe X founder Henry Hu says that’s not his intention. Rather, he wants to zero-in on the specialty coffee service industry by finding a faster way to make top-tier espresso. “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,“ Hu said in a release. “What we’re offering is the best possible experience for people who are looking for consistent specialty coffee to-go.”
The lack of labor costs does come through in the prices—8-ounce drinks start at $2.25. And of course, Cafe X still has some people to pay, like on-site specialists whose job it is to answer your coffee-related questions.