Briggo the Robotic Barista Replacement

01/09/2012

In the past we’ve seen robot ninjas making pourover coffee, but could a robot replace real baristas on a commercial scale? That’s the goal of a new startup called Briggo based in Austin, TX. The four co-founders, one being Patrick Pierce a barista from Caffé Medici who placed 2nd at the SCRBC in 2008, opened their first prototype this November inside the Flawn Academic Center on UT’s campus.

The robots behind a wall of flat panel monitors grind coffee to order, use a real tamper and stable 200° water temperature to make precise 2oz shots of espresso. The steam wand even emulates the angles that Patrick would use himself for lattes and cappuccinos. The grinders can also adjust automatically between shots as different variables change, staying dialed-in throughout the day. Sounds like the real deal.

Coffee can be ordered two ways, with a touch screen at the kiosk or with an app on your phone. It can also save your order for later visits. While you wait, one of the many monitors will display where your drink is in the queue and let you know once its finished. In many ways, it’s like a giant vending machine of the future, while also stripping every social aspect the coffee house is meant to engender—but is that bad?

I haven’t tasted the coffee, but since most airport, hospital, and university coffee comes from sketchy vending machines left over from the 80’s or an unenthusiastic employee pushing a button on a super-automatic espresso machine, why not make those situations better? If I can get decent coffee at an airport, I really don’t care who or what makes it.

The current version of the Briggo is reportedly using coffee from local Austin roaster Third Coast Coffee. And though it can’t pour latte art yet, an update is being engineered to enable that talent in a later version. If anyone in Austin wants to visit Briggo, I’d love to know how it tastes. Maybe one day it will host its own Thursday Night Throwdown.

Briggo

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2 Comments

  • Reply Matt 01/09/2012 at 12:22 pm

    Very interesting. Seems to be a lot of suspicion in our industry against any sort of automated process partially for the coffee culture we’ve evolved out of (and continue to fight against) and partly because of the variables automation can’t account for. I’m really excited to see what technological advances will bring to coffee, including through automation, but a robot will never be able to taste their product (or will they!) and make the proper necessary changes to their parameters.

  • Reply Chris 01/09/2012 at 2:15 pm

    Can someone explain to me why this is any different from the average coffee vending unit or super-auto, aside from the iOS integration and special ordering features? Their video is filled with lovely shots of human baristas preparing drinks, along with a description of the “robot” that could apply to practically any super-auto machine:

    1. Grinds per shot
    2. Tamps (what is a “real” tamper?)
    3. Brews with appropriate pressure and temperature

    Wow, just like a real barista!

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