The baristas at Cafe X can make two drinks in under a minute and will get your order right every time.
They’re also not human.
The robotic coffee bar employs assembly line-style robots to build your coffee orders for you, making Cafe X a player in San Francisco’s automated eatery scene that’s also gaining traction across the country.
The trend has garnered pushback for impeding on jobs that could be filled by actual humans, yet Cafe X insists it focuses on “humans working alongside technology,” not replacing them, said Cafe X community manager Sam Blum. And though the baristas are robots, a living and breathing Cafe X specialist is always on-site at each store.
The venture-backed company was founded in 2015 by Henry Hu, who received funds from The Thiel Foundation, PayPal cofounder Peter Thiel’s philanthropic effort, to see his endeavor through.
I visited the newest of the two Cafe X locations in San Francisco to get a glimpse of the coffee bar of the future.
Take a look to see what it’s like:
A Cafe X location looks like any other coffee shop…
Except that the barista is a little less talkative.
If you’ve ever avoided your usual coffee spot after realizing your favorite barista wasn’t staffing the counter that day, you’ll probably find Cafe X appealing. The coffee station is completely automated, meaning your dirty chai latte with dairy-free milk will come out the exact same every time you visit.
Customers can use on-site kiosks to place their coffee orders.
The cafe can get busy, with both a morning rush and a lunch rush regularly coming in, but the upsides of an automated coffee service are its speed and efficiency.