We have all been there. That painfully difficult decision between catching your flight and risking it all by standing in a long line at the airport coffee shop at 4am, hoping that the one barista on the graveyard shift is some sort of a machine.
Likely, they’re not! They’re probably exhausted and uncaring, nothing like the aloof but artistic baristas at your local café. The ones that not only care about the origin of the coffee beans, the pressure applied to the grounds, the temperature of the milk and, of course, latte art but also have the ability to pump out cup after cup during busy hours in an almost trance-like state.
Airports are just not a place for quality or quick coffee. Nevertheless, when it comes down to it, the snobbiest of coffee snobs will wait in line for a sub-par cup of joe just to feel the rush of caffeine coursing through their veins.
Thankfully, the answer to all of our coffee-on-the-go woes could be…robotic coffee houses.
Briggo Coffee Haus
Austin, Texas-based Briggo is the creator of Briggo Coffee Haus, fast-operating coffee shops powered by robots that can churn out the good stuff almost twice as fast as a flesh and blood barista. They can make 100 cups of coffee in an hour, while a human can only manage around 60.
The company was recently named one of Fast Company’s 10 Most Innovative companies in the world.
Briggo at one of its Houston, Texas Locations
The streamlined, robotic-staffed, 10-foot by 4-foot stores can make anything from espressos to vanilla chai lattes. Their small surface areas mean they are ideal for public spaces where coffee is desired 24/7, like hospitals and airports.
Designed by Yves Behar and company at Fuseproject and powered by Dell technology, Coffee Haus machines can receive your order via web, iOS app, or at the touch-screen kiosk. Then, a machine will grind and brew your custom drink on command or have it ready and waiting for you to arrive at a requested time.
The company says that the Briggo robotic baristas can create 8.5 million drink combinations and have your coffee ready within two minutes.
By collecting your data and having a rating system, the app allows customers to give feedback on preparation, calibrating their latte for next time–a bit more milk, a little less sugar–until it’s always just right.
What’s more is, Briggo has not neglected the most important component: The coffee must taste good. The company sources their beans from South America and roasts them in small batches to ensure freshness and great flavour.
Briggo has been operating in select airports and shopping malls in Texas since 2013. Earlier this month, they installed a kiosk at San Francisco International Airport (SFO).
“Speed, quality, and consistency are at an absolute premium when it comes to airport amenities, which makes Briggo the perfect coffee experience for one of the top-rated airports in the world,” said Briggo CEO Kevin Nater, who founded the company alongside Chas Studor.
“We’re honoured to bring Connected Coffee to such a vibrant, tech-savvy city as we quickly expand our presence throughout the Bay Area and beyond.”
Briggo will not be SFO’s first coffee robot. 2017 saw the airport-installing Cafe X to much hype. Unlike Briggo, Cafe X’s gimmicky but seemingly friendly futuristic robotic arm makes your coffee in front of you.
Briggo, on the other hand, gives more homely coffee shop vibes, with most of the operations out of view as the kiosk is encased in a wood-look finish.
Where does this leave the barista?
Briggo represents a leap forward in coffee technology, and it claims to deliver the full-service coffee house experience while eliminating a costly part of the equation: namely, the barista.
Speaking to Forbes earlier this year, Nater informed that he did not see his automated operations as a threat to the millions of hospitality workers in the US.
“I don’t think in the near term we replace [humans]. We just give people access to great quality coffee where it may not exist today.”
Baristas may want to keep one eye on coffee-making robots, as they continue to have the ability to evolve and use customer data to personalise the experience to perfection. But, the good news is, Briggo or anything like it will not be able to eliminate the simple joy of going down to your favourite café for a coffee and a slice of cake.
At least, not for now, anyway.
Natar also posits that the company of 50 employees has created manufacturing, engineering and retail jobs in Austin, the home of Coffee Haus, and that its headcount will continue to expand as locations increase.
“We’re creating opportunities all the way back to origin,” said Nater. “So our culture is about creating opportunities from farm to cup. Empowering people to create their perfect cup of coffee and inspiring and developing each other every day. And that’s what we stand for.”
Automated coffee machines are no new thing. Gas stations have had them in operation and pouring out cups of undrinkable lave for years, but Briggo is aiming to bring convenience up to standard for a population that cares about coffee more than ever.