Gavin pathross likes his Americano at a specific strength, with exactly 2.8 shots of espresso, an order that human baristas find it difficult to get right. But the baristas at Ratio, his new coffee shop in Shanghai, are anything but human. Customers specify, order and then pay for their coffee via their smartphones. A robot arm then grinds the beans, pumps shots of espresso and then carries out the rest of the work. The robot can supply water and then coffee at any ratio desired—hence the shop’s name. Once it has prepared the beverage, it passes the finished product to a human waiter for serving.
Ratio’s robot baristas are part of a trend. Hamburger joints and other fast-food providers are starting to be robotised in some places. Now it is the turn of cafés. Mr Pathross’s Shanghai shop is, at the moment, a one-off. But yet Coffee Haus is a professional system intended for deployment in airports, offices and other high-volume destinations. It is the brainchild of Chas Studor, founder of Briggo, a firm in Austin, Texas. Under his guidance Briggo’s engineers have designed a device that is definitely a couple of metres tall, 4 metres across, and can turn out one hundred cups an hour.