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Robot barista to make grocery store debut in Houston

Houston Chronicle logo Houston Chronicle 10/17/2019 Paul Takahashi
a display in a store: Austin-based Briggo plans to open an automated coffee kiosk in the Whole Foods Market opening next month in midtown Houston. © Briggo Austin-based Briggo plans to open an automated coffee kiosk in the Whole Foods Market opening next month in midtown Houston.

When the Whole Foods Market in Midtown opens next month, the grocery store will employ 145 humans -- and one robot barista.

Briggo plans to place an automated coffee vending machine in the new Whole Foods, 515 Elgin, which opens Nov. 7. The so-called  “Coffee Hause” will be the Austin-based company’s first in a grocery store, and its second in Houston. Briggo opened a coffee kiosk in the George R. Brown Convention Center last year.

Customers can use the kiosk’s touchscreen or a mobile app to order hot and iced coffee, cappuccino, latte, and hot and iced tea drinks, which are made within minutes using Latin American whole-beans, fresh dairy and almond milk and gourmet syrups. The 40-square-foot kiosks can produce about 100 cups per hour.

RELATED: Salad-making robots are coming to Houston

Coffee offerings include a Briggo blend, which use arabica beans from Guatemala, El Salvador and Brazil, as well as Whole Foods’ house brand, Allegro Coffee. Briggo’s Coffee Hause kiosks can be found in airports, convention centers, corporate offices, hospitals in Austin, Houston, Dallas and San Francisco.

Tech startups nationally are experimenting with food- and beverage-making robots and vending machines, which are poised to transform the restaurant and food industry. In Houston, Reis & Irvy’s Frozen Yogurt vending machines have popped up in the Texas Medical Center and the Art Institute of Houston. The Salad Station, a Louisiana-based fast-casual chain, has partnered with Houston-based RoboFresh to place dozens of salad-making vending machines across the Houston area.

Related video: Pizza-making robot churns out 300 pizzas an hour [provided by Reuters]

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