Henry Hu, 23, loves coffee and hates waiting in lines at coffee shops. The college dropout and recipient of the prestigious Thiel Fellowship throws back about five cups of coffee a day on average.
Henry really did not like to wait in lines for that cup, he invented Cafe X, so his other coffee fiends in San Francisco could now get their fix in seconds.
Cafe X claims to be the first robot-powered café in the US. The kiosk takes customers' orders from a number of tablets stationed nearby, and serves coffes, lattés, and cappuccinos made with beans from local roasters. As of January 30th it is available at Metreon shopping center in San Francisco.
The robot performs a pre-defined set of motions, such as moving a cup from under the milk dispenser to the syrup dispenser, or delivering a cup to the window where the customer is standing.
Is it incredibly fast. Cafe X is capable of preparing between 100 and 120 drinks per hour, depending on the complexity of the orders, according to Hu. Customers can choose the brand of beans and customize the amount of milk and flavors used.
Go ahead, try a latté made with hazelnut syrup and milk and you'll be surprised to find it tastes amazing. It was rich and creamy, unlike coffee beverages dispensed from a vending machine.
Hu got the idea for Cafe X while he was studying technology and entrepreneurship at Babson College. After tinkering with friends and Hong Kong-based programmers he found online, Hu sold his car and acquired funding from a friend's family to get the business off the ground.
When Hu learned he was accepted into the Thiel Fellowship, which gives $100,000 to young people who drop out of college to pursue their entrepreneurial interests, in June 2016, he said he was "really surprised." Hu said he hasn't met the program's founder, Peter Thiel, yet. Hu is currently in talks with several San Francisco-based tech companies — "whose names you probably know," his press agent says — to install Cafe X kiosks in their offices.