- Whole Foods Market will install a robotic barista to provide in-store coffee service at its new Houston-Midtown location through a partnership with Austin-based Briggo, according to a press release. The store is set to open Nov. 7.
- Briggo, which says it is the creator of the world's first gourmet, robotic barista, will use a variety of syrups, fresh dairy and Whole Foods' Allegro brand coffee as well as its own beans to craft drinks "in minutes." Customers can choose from coffees, cappuccinos, seasonal lattes, tea drinks and other gourmet iced and hot coffee.
- Shoppers can use in-store touchscreen kiosks to order their drinks and can also order ahead on the Briggo mobile app.
After launching in 2018, Briggo is making its grocery store debut with Whole Foods, offering a novel concept for the retailer and its customers in one of its newest stores.
Briggo's order-ahead app promises to shave time off shoppers' morning coffee runs, while digital kiosks address efficiency and customer experience in-store. Restaurant chains across the U.S. have added ordering kiosks in recent years, so the technology shouldn't be a leap for shoppers to use. Customers can also purchase packaged Briggo coffee to brew at home, which will be available at the Houston-Midtown store or online.
The novelty of the robotic barista may draw curious coffee drinkers in the short-term and could drive a sales bump as the new Houston store gets going. Long-term, the retailer will need to see sustained sales and labor savings to justify expansion to other stores.
Whole Foods is widely known for its in-store coffee service. The retailer has a full-service espresso and coffee bar at many locations and a Capital Commons cafe in its flagship Atlanta store, all of which sell its house Allegro brand. Its Lincoln Harbor, New Jersey, location is slated to have an outpost of the Brooklyn-based coffee shop Cafe Grumpy.
The U.S. coffee market has increased in volume by 3.8% in 2018, according to Allegra World Coffee Portal's 2019 Project Cafe USA report. Allegra conducted a survey and found that the U.S. coffee shop market grew to a valuation of $45.5 billion last year, but the industry faces issues with labor costs and increased competition.