Unique Automated Coffee Concept Launches Aggressive Canadian Expansion

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RC Coffee is taking self-service technology to another level with its unattended, robotic coffee kiosks, set to roll out across Canada this year and into 2021. The company looks to change the perception of self-serve coffee through sophisticated technology that truly measures up to barista standards.

Claiming to provide the authentic espresso experience found in a premium cafe, RC Coffee’s automated barista is a modernized spin on North America’s raging take-out coffee culture. RC Coffee operates 24/7, seven days a week, delivering its menu of specialty coffees with precision by performing all the functions of a human barista mechanically.

RC COFFEE INTRODUCES TORONTO’S FIRST AUTOMATED BARISTA

In a post-COVID world, this contactless, unattended coffee kiosk couldn’t have come at a better time. The project — that has been in the works for more than three years — is making its grand debut during the unprecedented time of elbow bumps and face masks.

The first RC Coffee kiosk is located in a KingSett Capital property at 1235 Bay Street, in Toronto’s upscale Bloor-Yorkville neighbourhood. A partnership with Dark Horse Espresso — one of Toronto’s finest coffee roasters — this introductory kiosk promises premium quality coffee in a newly-branded “Coffee Automat” experience. Each carefully-crafted beverage is served according to Dark Horse’s high standards and can be customized with all natural ingredients including milks, sugars, and flavourings.

PHOTO OF ‘RETRO’ CAFE STOREFRONT AT NEW RC COFFEE LOCATION. PHOTO: RC COFFEE
COFFEE KIOSK IN ACTION. PHOTO: RC COFFEE
RC COFFEE AUTOMATED, CONTACTLESS KIOSK. PHOTO: RC COFFEE

The “Automat” concept itself is a cheeky retro design that lends itself to the optimism of traditional food and beverage vending technologies. In partnership with the design team at Mjolk, RC Coffee and Dark Horse Espresso have staged a cafe storefront and whimsical window display designed to inject a sense of mystery and playfulness into the coffee experience.

“From order submission, to the time the coffee meets the customer’s hand, we have transformed the coffee purchasing experience by introducing a new level of service and innovative technology,” said RC Coffee in its press release. 

Customers have the choice of ordering via the LCD interface, mobile friendly Touchless web interface, or  they can download the RC Coffee app (coming soon). RC’s vision is to enable customers to use its app to find their local coffee robot, schedule an exact pick-up time, and save favourites for ease of reorder. RC’s coffee robot will only begin making your beverage once you are within a certain radius.

Leveraging the power of Eversys Cameo – the world’s most advanced super-automatic espresso machine – RC Coffee has been meticulous in ensuring quality is not compromised for the sake of promptness. RC Coffee has extended the platform and added a touchscreen menu interface, contactless ordering plus payment versatility, and a robotic delivery system for a 24/7/365 fully autonomous cafe experience  The kiosk can perform all the functions of a real barista in a fraction of the time — grinding the coffee to perfection and performing a thorough clean between each beverage to eliminate cross-contamination. 

CUSTOMER WAITING AT RC COFFEE KIOSK. PHOTO: RC COFFEE
COFFEE BEING PREPARED IN EVERSYS CAMEO. PHOTO: RC COFFEE

CADILLAC FAIRVIEW INTERESTED IN RC COFFEE INITIATIVE WITH AGGRESSIVE EXPANSION PLAN IN THE WORKS

Now open, Bloor-Yorkville’s newest robot barista serves premium espresso beverages retailing at 20% less than its Starbucks equivalent. 

RC Coffee has an aggressive expansion plan that includes 100 locations within the next 12 months. Landlords such as Cadillac Fairview and Oxford Properties have shown keen interest in the pilot project — an incredibly promising sign for RC Coffee. Suzanne Cayley of Aurora Realty Consultants is representing RC in its concept expansion.

“Our aim was for our first location to tell a story in grand spectacular fashion, with department store style windows giving customers a peek into a fictional historical coffee setting. Our “mock cafe” storefront provides a playful fictional history for the Dark Horse Automat as a 1950-60s Toronto café. This concept holds a special place in the heart of Yorkville but is widely forgotten about for the rest of the city,” said Adam Lang, Marketing Manager at RC Coffee.

Whilst appropriate for our impatient and COVID-marred world, the RC Coffee kiosk does raise the question: is it necessary to obliterate yet another human interaction in the name of convenience?

“The world has recently changed dramatically, and the barista to customer interaction is somewhat risky despite people’s best efforts to maintain a safe environment. Furthermore, the days of lounging in the café comfortably as your home away from home are on hold indefinitely. RC Coffee is the ideal answer for a new reality. We recognize the importance of a pleasant experience when it comes to coffee, and we strive to make our storefronts engaging while safe. We’re noticing groups of friends coming to our Bay St kiosk, taking pictures, laughing, being amazed by the technology and enjoying their orders on-the-go. We’re providing a new frontier for the coffee experience, and hope to build a strong online community via social media.”

Jessica Finch
Jessica Finch
Jessica Finch is a writer and editor based in Toronto. She holds a BA in English and Psychology and is a graduate of Ryerson University’s Publishing program. She has extensive managerial experience in the food service industry, and is interested in exploring innovations within this sector and other retail environments.

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