There’s a new coffee place that just opened adjacent to Gate 8 in Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (ABIA) and it sounded intriguing. It’s all robotic and can do just about everything – take your order, charge you via credit card, make your coffee, and tell you when it’s ready – all potentially without human intervention. We were flying home from a short visit to the area and decided to try it out.
The company is called Briggo and it’s been in business since 2012 or so. Its first two 100% robotic “Coffee Haus” locations were on private properties but the first public location opened in January 2018. It was popular enough where a second location, the one at ABIA that we visited, opened in July, 2018.
You can order your coffee on site via a touchscreen, or via their app (Available for iOS or Google Play). Drink options include regular coffee, latte, cappuccino, mocha, chai latte, Americano, milk steamer, hot chocolate, espresso, iced coffee or iced chai, with multiple sub options (i.e. milk, sugar, syrup, etc.) for each one.
After you place your order, you pay via card and have a set wait time (1 to 4 minutes, depending on what you ordered), at which time you’re notified that your drink is ready.
So how good is the coffee?
Wellll…it’s OK. Or non-existent, depending on which of us you ask.
Joe got an iced coffee with milk and sugar free vanilla syrup and he said overall it was OK but not great. There were 2 sizes of iced coffee to choose from – small and large. The default to add syrups was “zero” and you could add however many pumps you want (up to the default “you can’t add more than that” – more on that in a moment). On a whim, and from his experiences at Starbucks, he added 2 pumps, and fortunately, that was a good amount for him. However he found himself wishing there was a guide to tell you how many pumps were recommended to go into what size drink. There were also no options for, for example, “light ice” in the iced coffee – you could only get the amount of ice that was the default. The coffee was a little too strong for his tastes and in hindsight he guesses could have maybe adjusted the strength but (A) he didn’t know it was going to be so strong and (B) he didn’t know how. Now, there was a a Briggo employee on site to explain the system and help with ordering, and she did help Joe for part of his order, but the help she gave was rather generic (i.e. “Each pump of milk is the equivalent of 1 of those small cups of creamer, about 1/2 ounce each”) and you’re not going to know the adjustments you’re going to want based on personal taste until you try it. But once it’s made and it’s not that great, you’re kinda stuck. I guess that’s the same as the “trial and error” method of going to any coffee place, until you know what to ask for to make it “right.” But with just 2 public locations so far, that will mean keeping in your head, “The next time I order coffee from that place at ABIA, I have to remember to see if I can get the coffee any weaker.”
As for me, I never even got that far. I like my coffee very, very light. In fact, when I go to Starbucks, I order a tall blonde in grande cup (that’s like 12 oz of coffee in a 16 oz cup), so I’ll have room for extra milk (I get milk for flavor and to cool the coffee down). When I went to order my coffee from the Briggo robot and got up to how much milk I wanted to add, I got up to “2” and it wouldn’t go any higher. The Briggo employee told me that, “”Each pump of milk is the equivalent of 1 of those small cups of creamer, about 1/2 ounce each” (where have I heard that before?) and you can’t order more than 2 pumps of milk. Hmmm….OK. But what if I want more milk in my coffee? She suggested I get a latte because that has more milk in it. I said that lattes usually have hot or steamed milk – is the milk in their lattes hot or cold? She said hot. I said I was looking for cold milk. So she went through through the menu with me (she wasn’t sure off the top of her head – I guess she was new?) and agreed there was no way to get what I was looking for. You just can’t get a “very light coffee” (or even a “light” one, apparently) from a Briggo robot.
And thus ended my experience with ordering my coffee from a Briggo Coffee Haus. I wound up getting my coffee from a place nearby, where a human could fill the cup up 3/4 of the way and give me a small cup of milk on the side.
So one coffee that was just OK, and one coffee that I couldn’t even order to my liking. As far as I’m concerned, Starbucks, Tim Horton, etc. have nothing to worry about at this time. 😉
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary