Man vs. Machine: New Coffee Robot Unveiled on Campus

The days of snooty baristas and waiting in line for coffee may be over for Longhorns.

On a recent trip to UT’s Flawn Academic Center, the Alcalde got a first look at Briggo Inc.’s newest coffee robot, known as the Coffee Haus. For the past year and a half, a prototype has been located in the same spot on campus, giving the Austin-based company the opportunity to collect feedback on customer experience, size options, and drink flavors. An updated version of that prototype, the Coffee Haus is now fully equipped to give students a futuristic coffee experience when they return to campus later this month.

“We really just wanted to test the product and the service to make sure the students and faculty were happy with it,” says Briggo’s marketing coordinator, Katrina Funtanilla, BS ’13. “We decided to pretty much reinvent what [the machine] was about.”

And reinvent it, they did. The new Coffee Haus has been completely redesigned and looks like something straight out of The Jetsons. It has wood paneling, multiple touch screens, and a peek-through window, and it’s now 100 percent automated—a change from the prototype, which required an attendant to place a cup in the machine and top each beverage with a lid.

“I think this one is actually a little bit easier to use,” says David Braley, a UT student who uses the the Coffee Haus at least once a day. “Things in general flow a lot smoother, and when they get everything worked out, it’s going to be a fantastic machine.”

Though you can order via touch screen at the machine, we opted to order online ahead of time using the company’s website, where we selected a drink from the menu and were given both a pick-up code and countdown to completion.

Our drink was made without issue, but the machine was temporarily closed twice during the hour we were there. The company seemed to expect as much in the Coffee Haus’ first few days of operation: Briggo’s IT team was onsite during all operating hours, and the issues were quickly resolved.

For now, the company has no plans to replace traditional coffee shops. Instead, Briggo wants to expand its machines to places like hospitals and airports, the first of which will be Austin-Bergstrom International Airport later this year.

“We aren’t trying to take away from the cafe,” Funtanilla says. “We’re really just trying to fit into the industry as a different need for those who have an active lifestyle.”

Those active people include students and professors who are always on the go. Longhorn customers can order drinks on their smartphones, schedule orders in advance, and even “snooze” their scheduled drink if they’re running late.

First-time Coffee Haus user and UT student Seth Haber says he decided to try out the new machine for a number of reasons, including the cool look of the machine, the variety of options, and a price point that is cheaper than some other coffee shops around campus. Still, he isn’t sure if he’ll become a Coffee Haus regular anytime soon.

“I have two free drinks left,” Haber says, referencing the company’s free drink promotion, “so I think I’ll reserve judgment until after I drink those.”

Image courtesy Briggo’s Facebook page.


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