Cotti Coffee turning to robots to man all its outlets, offer 24/7 service

Across the world, some coffee brands have been toying with robots as an alternative to human baristas to automate the coffee making process.

Cotti Coffee (库迪咖啡), a fast-expanding budget coffee chain, has made headlines by announcing that it will become the first coffee company worldwide to adopt robots at its outlets on a massive scale.

According to a strategy the firm released on January 3, Cotti hopes to strike the “best possible balance” between customer experience and cost structure through a blend of staff effort and robotic technology.

If the strategy were to proceed as planned, it will make Cotti the first to commercialize robots in the catering industry across the globe, Chinese media reported.

According to the strategy, starting in January this year, all Cotti stores will steadily be peopled by three types of robots.

They will assist human staff with work such as ingredient blending, coffee making and in-store delivery.

The presence of these robot baristas will turn around-the-clock operation into a reality.

According to Cotti, robot-assisted coffee chains lead to four benefits that enhance consumer experience: more consistent taste and quality, better sanitation, extended opening hours, and a novel digital shopping experience.

Slashing labor costs

Across the world, some coffee brands have been toying with robots as an alternative to human baristas to automate the coffee making process. Labor costs represent the bulk of operational expenses incurred by coffeehouse operators.

Cotti was founded in 2022 as an even cheaper version of its domestic rival and Starbucks challenger Luckin.

Apart from promoting robots to overhaul its coffee business, the Beijing-based company said it will deploy robots to all the stores under its new milk tea sub-brand “Cha Mao.”

Asked whether franchise store operators will be made to pay for the robots and in turn pass on subsequent cost increases to consumers in the form of price hikes, Cotti declined to comment, saying no more information is available at the moment.

Data released by Cotti shows that as of today, the brand has been present in 28 countries and regions across the world, operating a total of 7,000 stores, ranking fourth.

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Ni Tao

Ni Tao is the founder and editor-in-chief of cnrobopedia. Prior to cnrobopedia, he had a full decade of experience with a major state-run English-language newspaper as a tech reporter and opinion writer. He is also a communications specialist, having provided consultancy services to established firms like Siemens, Philips, ABinBev, Diageo, Trip.com Group (Nasdaq: TCOM, HK: 9961), Jianpu Technology (NYSE: JT) and a handful of domestic startups. A graduate of Fudan University, he writes widely about China's business and tech scenes and other topics for global publications including South China Morning Post, SupChina, The Diplomat, CGTN, Banking Technology, among others, and tries to impart his experience to students at Fudan University Journalism School, where he is a part-time lecturer. When he's not writing about robotics, you can expect him to be on his beloved Yanagisawa saxophones, trying to play some jazz riffs, often in vain and occasionally against the protests of an angry neighbor. Get in touch with him by dropping a line at nitao0927@gmail.com.

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