This week, Cafe X will launch their second generation robotic coffee barista, the ‘Robotic Coffeebar 2.0’. I had a chance to catch up with Cafe X CEO Henry Hu and ask him a few questions about the new platform.
Are you using a different core robot (vs the Mitsubishi arm) with this new product?
Hu: The robot is the same but we worked with the San Francisco design firm Ammunition on the robot’s UX/personality and industrial design. We also designed a new gripper for the robot arm so that it can now handle 8oz hot cups, 12oz hot cups, 12oz cold cups and more in the future.
In talking about the robot, you indicated the new design allows you to put into almost any location. Are you looking to put Cafe X into smaller footprints later this year than your current walk-in coffee shops?
Hu: Not necessarily. The new design makes it easier to install a machine because it fits through standard double doors and has a smaller footprint. We could do more standalone units later this year like in the lobbies of office buildings but we could also do larger flagship stores with multiple machines inside to handle higher peak demand.
It looks like you are currently running a full-stack business model (develop tech, customer experience, own real estate and have employees in shop, etc), which is in a way reminiscent of Eatsa 1.0. Eatsa eventually transitioned to more of a technology provider model; Do you expect to explore other models such as putting Cafe X within existing coffee shops run by non-Cafe X employees?
Hu: We’re open to it but the current focus is own and operate. All locations are performing very well and we’re still getting great reviews from customers.
What is the dimensions/footprint of the CoffeeBar 2.0 vs the 1.0?
Hu: 2.0 takes about 40 square feet. It can pretty much go against a wall. The 1.0 needed over 100 square feet because it required rear access for our internal refrigerator so there had to be about 4-5 feet of space behind the machine.
Do you have any metrics on how many coffees 1.0 serves per day and how that could differ with 2.0?
Hu: Our Market St location is doing about 400 orders per day. We can do over 600 with the 2.0. With the 2.0, customers can now order multiple drinks using our new ordering app. We’ve also added some really great animations for the different drink customization options (syrups, milks, cup sizes, etc.) that were designed by Y Media Labs. I think this will naturally increase order volume too.
You previously offered one size cup. Will that change with the new platform?
Hu: Yup! Now we have 12oz hot drinks and we serve nitro cold brew (and nitro tea in a few weeks) in 12oz clear cups. All the cups are biodegradable/compostable.
Do you have any data/metric on cost comparisons of running a Robot Coffee bar vs. a traditional coffee bar?
Hu: It’s less, but our focus is on quality ingredients, drink consistency, exceptional customer service.