WAUKESHA, Wis. — A coffee shop, if you can call it that, in Waukesha could be the catalyst that changes the coffee industry forever.
Octane Coffee is a nearly fully autonomous coffee shop. Here's how it works. You put in your order through the mobile app and it provides you with a QR code. The software tracks your location, so when you are about two minutes away your coffee gets prepared. Then you pull up to the window, scan your QR code, and the window will open for you to grab your coffee. It has only been sitting there for 10-15 seconds.
No baristas are involved. The only time an employee needs to be present is to refill the coffee, cream, and other supplies along with general maintenance.
“Everybody says isn’t the human-made latte better? Isn’t there some artistry or love? And I would say no. Every drink that we make, every coffee extraction is a chemistry experience. If you don’t control the variables, you’re going to have a bad time," Adrian Deasy, the founder and CEO, said.
Octane Coffee officially opened on October 6th after a few months of stress testing the system during a soft launch.
Inside this container is a highly sophisticated robotics system of proprietary technology. It can make everything from hot chai teas to iced caramel lattes. The latte art could use some work though. Octane Coffee partners with local companies like Stone Creek, Pilcrow Coffee, and nearby dairies for all their ingredients.
The goal is to speed up the coffee-buying experience. Deasy argues that the majority of people don’t actually sit in cafes. They grab and go.
He was inspired to start the company in 2018 after seeing a long line of people waiting to get a Starbucks coffee.
“We saw the line for Starbucks up and around the corner in the skyway, and I happened to make an offhand comment like why haven’t they automated this? Like okay, their marketing is good and the coffee is so-so, and clearly they can fill it up. But why haven’t they automated this? This customer experience sucks," Deasy said.
So far they only have one location, but the goal isn’t to be like Starbucks; rather, it’s to sell their equipment, so others can run their own businesses.
“Whether it’s restaurant owners, coffee shop owners, and just people in the food industry in general, they cannot find enough people to work. So there’s no shortage of customers, there’s no shortage of food to be made and drinks to be served. There's just no labor force there," Deasy said.
So far he has a list of about 200 people interested in franchising. Deasy said there has been high interest from entrepreneurs in states with high minimum wages like California and Washington.
Octane Coffee isn’t trying to eliminate coffee shops.
"We think there's always going to be a place for a sit-down style cafe where they’ve got the sights, the smells, the ambiance, the baristas, and the servers taking care of you. And there's always going to be that space to take a meeting, to sit down with friends, to read a book, work on your laptop," he said.
Deasy is trying to provide an alternative for the customer on the go.
“There’s got to be a faster better customer experience, so the idea of Octane Coffee is that we sell time with a great cup of coffee.”