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Convenience Store News: Coffee Automation Is Here

Convenience Store News: Coffee Automation Is Here

Technological advances are at an all-time high with no signs of slowing down. With Amazon Go set to turn the C-store industry upside down, it should come as no surprise that other industries are following suit. Enter Café X, a revolutionary new concept in coffee automation that takes everyone’s favorite brown beverage to the next level. How do they do it? Robots.

Seriously.

With pilot stores in Hong Kong and San Francisco, Café X boasts the service of “precision crafted specialty coffee in seconds, the way the roaster intended.”  The idea behind the coffee-making robot is to allow individuals who are on the go the opportunity to enjoy a great cup of coffee without the hassle.

In short, a kiosk-like setup features a robotic arm similar to those used in the automotive industry. A mobile app, or touchscreen menu allows for easy ordering, and the robotic arm cranks out a piping out cup of coffee in less than a minute.

Certainly we’ve all had frustrating moments waiting in line at a chain coffee shop, or the hassle of having to wait in a drive-thru.  What better way to streamline the process than by having a robot make it for you? And for businesses looking to add coffee services to their locations (airports, for example), what better way to save on overhead and maximize your profits?

 

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What Does This Mean For You?

Though Café X is starting from humble beginnings, the reality is that the technology is there, and will continue to grow. Automated coffee vending machines have been around for decades. This is certainly one way of looking to the future.

Whether or not the coffee automation café will become a booming, successful business remains to be seen. Though it likely won’t replace the overall aesthetic and vibe of a traditional coffee shop, Café X will certainly be a go-to option for on the go coffee drinkers.

On the plus side, there doesn’t’ seem to be any reason for C-store or gas station owners who rely on coffee sales to panic. The Café X technology requires a sizable investment and a large piece of floor space to operate. It’s a novelty, for now. Albeit an impressive one.

As these locations are presently more suited to highly trafficked areas such as public shopping malls, airports, etc. It’s unlikely that the technology will pose a threat to our industries. Coffee sales represent a significant portion of both the convenience store and gas station revenue models, however Café X, or a system like it, isn’t likely to compete directly even if it does become commonplace.

It’s a Different Customer Base

Coffee sales in gas stations and convenience stores benefit from volume, as well as high margins that are aided by the self-serve model that is almost universal in the industry. A high amount of commuter traffic and impulse buyers also means that our customers are likely safe from poaching.

A customer who’s stopping off to get gas and suddenly gets the urge for a cup of coffee…. Isn’t likely to seek out a robot barista when there’s a 99 cent cup waiting just a few feet away.

Still, the technology is present and this type of coffee automation will continue to grow in one form or another. As far as convenience store news is concerned, maybe if the operation becomes smaller, the opportunity will present itself for gas stations and C-stores to adopt it for themselves.

Automation technology isn’t going to go away, but for now it appears that our coffee sales are safe.

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