At first, your local coffee shop may fear Briggo, the company that has been building robot baristas for a decade now. But Briggo co-founder and CTO Chas Studor believes that his autonomous coffee making machines will actually make existing coffee shops better.
Briggo builds the fully autonomous robotic “Coffee Haus,” which takes up just 40 sq. feet. It’s meant to go in locations high-traffic areas such as corporate campuses, factories or airports. The company has four machines in use now across Austin with another one set to go up in the Austin airport.
Customers use an on-screen menu or the accompanying app to order, customize and pay for their drinks. Drinks can be pre-ordered through the app and once made, Coffee Haus will hold each drink in its own locked area and text you a code. When you arrive, type in the code and the drink is released.
The company is on its third generation machine. Each Coffee Haus can make up to 100 drinks per hour, hold 16 drinks at a time for customers, and can dispense 800 drinks before it needs to be re-stocked. It self-cleans and sanitizes and most of its bits are connected to the Internet, so it can pinpoint where something breaks down, and constantly sends data about grinds, pours, weights and brews back to headquarters.
But Briggo actually does more than build and deploy robots: the company controls its own full-stack solution. It has an internal team of hardware and software engineers building out its platform. It sources and roasts its own beans, and has crafted its own customized blend with the help of Scott McMartin, who used to do procurement for Starbucks. When a machine needs to be replenished or serviced, a Briggo employee goes out and does it.
Drinks are certainly a popular vocation choice for robots. In addition to Briggo, Cafe X has debuted its own barista-in-a-box, while companies like 6d bytes and Alberts are building smoothie-making robots. Drinks are a good use case for robots because people want them on the go and while there is room for improvisation, drink recipes are generally consistent (a doppio is a doppio).
Based in Austin, TX, Briggo has 40 employees and raised $12 million in a Series A round. The company partners with large food service management companies and installs the machines in campuses and cafeterias. Briggo will expand to Houston and Dallas next, before it ventures outside of Texas.
I spoke with Studor at the Specialty Coffee Expo here in Seattle. While he wants Briggo to make excellent coffee, he also wants to help change the coffee industry. Briggo can help reduce waste, he says, by creating coffee on demand, and not in large batches that get thrown out because they’ve sat out too long, and also reduce the use of items like milk and sugar because they are precisely dispensed in his machine.
Studor is adamant that Briggo won’t replace coffee shops. He believes people will still want the social interaction and experience that comes with them. What he hopes Briggo will do will help make those coffee shop experiences better. Because Briggo is built for high-traffic areas, coffee shops can focus on their own business to create the best human-powered coffee shop experience.