Cafe X posted a teaser image to Instagram today, telling the world that its robot barista will be coming to the San Francisco International Airport (SFO).
The news itself isn’t that surprising. Cafe X is based in the Bay Area and already has three robo-barista locations up and running in downtown San Francisco. The company has told us before that high-traffic areas like airports are high on its list of target locations.
But it seems like there may be a robot barista battle, err, brewing at SFO. According to The Houston Chronicle, Austin, TX-based Briggo will be setting up its robotic Coffee Haus at SFO as well. The San Francisco Business Journal reported back in November that the SFO Airport Commission was on a fast track to approve a test run with Briggo when Cafe X raised its hand during a Nov. 6, 2018 planning meeting. The Business Journal writes:
“We are striving to be a very, very responsible employer in San Francisco bringing trade jobs back to the city,” Cynthia Yeung, COO of Cafe X, told the SFO commissioners at the Nov. 6 meeting. “And I want to understand why, with so little transparency, this trial program was awarded to a Texas based company?”
Evidently, this was enough to sway the commission, and Cafe X is cleared to land at SFO.
Places like airports are perfect for robot baristas, which can run all day, slinging up lattes when other locations are closed (and the robots won’t misspell your name). Briggo‘s coffee robot is already installed at the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, and it’s not hard to see why Cafe X wanted to protect its home turf.
According to The Chronicle, SFO cafes and coffee houses do $50 million a year in sales. Both robo-baristas will be installed after security in the airport in Terminal 3. Briggo will open around Memorial Day and Cafe X will launch over Labor Day.
We’ve reached out to both companies.
While both Briggo and Cafe X make robots, each is taking a very different approach. Briggo’s is more of a high-end vending machine with all the automation enclosed, and the company also roasts its own coffee. Cafe X, other other hand, puts its articulating front and center to add some theatricality to its coffee making, and curates coffee from outside roasters.
Lucky for us, we have Cynthia Yeung, COO of Cafe X and Chas Studor, Founder and CTO of Briggo speaking at our ArticulATE food robot conference happening in San Francisco on April 16 (tickets are limited, get yours now!). It’s just too bad I won’t be able to grab a robo-latte when I arrive.