OrionStar, the robotics arm of Chinese company Cheetah Mobile, jumped into the automated coffee making space last week with the debut of its Robotic Coffee Master.
The Robotic Coffee Master combines two six-axis robotic arms, computer vision, and artificial intelligence to replicate the complex brewing techniques of human baristas such as curves and spirals. Right now the robot makes pour over coffees, using its robotic arms to do things like get the grounds into the filter, set the filter on top of the carafe and pour hot water over the grounds. The Robotic Coffee Master can make a cup of coffee in three minutes.
Unlike other robot coffee makers like Cafe X or Truebird or Briggo, the Robotic Coffee Master is not a full-on enclosed kiosk. Rather it is a squat-looking robot that can be set up in more open environments.
Perhaps once seen as more of a novelty, robotic coffee services could find renewed purpose in a post-pandemic world (whenever that will be). Robots can work around the clock without a break, but also remove a human vector of disease transmission to provide a contactless transaction for customer’s morning coffee.
As noted earlier, the automated coffee space already has a number of players like Cafe X, Truebird, and Briggo here in the U.S., but also international competitors such as Rozum Cafe, MontyCafe, FIBBEE, and Crown Coffee.
The good news is that a lot of people drink a lot of coffee all over the world, so there is plenty of opportunity for everyone involved. In China alone, the coffee market is expected to hit roughly $42.3 billion.
In a phone interview this week, Vincent Li, Head of Global Marketing and Sales, Robotic Solution at Cheetah Mobile, told me that his company is focusing on the Asian market right now. The Robotic Coffee Master sells for roughly $50,000 and the company has already sold 200 units.