If you flew into/out of the San Jose Airport over the past Thanksgiving holiday — bummer! You just missed having a robot make and serve you a latte. Cafe X announced today that its latest automated coffee kiosk is now open for business at the San Jose Airport (SJC).
This is the fourth Cafe X location to open in the Bay Area and SJC is the company’s first airport location (the opening of Cafe X at the San Francisco airport has been delayed due to airport construction).
This also marks the release of a new version of the Cafe X robot that was built in-house and features larger pickup windows, an expanded menu (the robot can now make 6 drinks at a time including four from different taps) and an designated area that can be used for different modules like pastry shelves in the future.
With high volumes of people needing their caffeine fix in a hurry, airports are prime locations for coffee robots like Cafe X’s. The autonomous articulating arm can consistently and quickly make drinks all day without needing to take a break. Cafe X rival Briggo also opened up a location at SFO this summer, and is also at the Austin-Bergstrom International airport.
One difference between Cafe X and Briggo is that Briggo is a standalone coffee kiosk with no humans, whereas Cafe X still has humans on hand to provide customer service and product education. However, I spoke with Cafe X Founder and CEO Henry Hu today, and he told me that the company is in the final process of getting NSF certification so it can operate as a vending machine. Operating as a vending machine means that Cafe X’s will be able to operate 24 hours a day with or without a human.
You’re going to see more high-end vending machines like Cafe X, Briggo and Yo-Kai Express, which makes hot bowls of ramen, pop up in more airports and other high-traffic locations in the future. Vending machines can operate around the clock to feed hungry travelers or employees when other stores are closed. Briggo has partnered with SSP America to open up its Coffee Hauses at an additional 25 airport locations.
Cafe X’s new robot is located in Terminal B, Cafe X at SJC and is open daily from 5:30 AM 10:30 PM for now. Hu said Cafe X will be expanding outside of the Bay Area and into New York next year.