Austin, TX will get a little more hip (as if that were possible) next week as Briggo’s robotic Coffee Haus will land at the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport on July 17th. Briggo says it will be the first robot coffee maker in a U.S. airport, but more importantly it’s another sign that robot baristas are on their way into the mainstream.
We profiled Briggo earlier this year and chatted with them for our Automat podcast. The Austin-based company not only builds 40 square foot craft coffee dispensing kiosks, it also selects and roasts its own specialty coffee specifically for its machines.
Briggo’s plans for the Austin airport have been public for a while, but the imminent launch of the barista bot is most interesting because it comes on the heels of Cafe X’s recent deployment of its own robot barista-in-a-box on the streets of San Francisco. Both companies are looking to create turnkey craft coffee solutions for high-traffic areas such as office buildings, campuses and airports.
Both Briggo and Cafe X will own and operate their machines. In the case of Cafe X, they still want to have a human on site with each robot to help guide people and curate their coffee experience. Briggo’s approach is more hands off, using humans only for re-stocking and required maintenance.
Though Briggo and Cafe X currently only have plans to grow in their specific areas — Texas and the Bay Area, respectively — each company says they have been fielding interest from around the world. And it’s not hard to see why. Coffee baristas like these are not your grandfather’s watered-down coffee vending machine. They both craft high-end coffee drinks, do so without taking a break or calling in sick, and are built to handle high volumes of people.
When I spoke with Briggo Co-Founder and CTO, Chas Studor this year, he was insistent that Briggo is not out to kill the café or replace every barista. He believes that for times when you just want to grab a cup of coffee quickly (like at the airport), robots are better suited for the task — and if you can build a robot that creates a good latté (or cappuccino or mocha…), people will raise their coffee expectations and visit people-powered high-end coffee shops more.
We’ll have to wait and see if that logic takes off, but starting next week, any hipsters traveling between Austin and San Francisco should sample both robot-made drinks and tell us what they think!