The automated coffee start-up plans to use the pre-Series A funding to scale its robotic barista and specialty coffee offering to more US locations, while keeping the overall experience similar to conventional coffee stores
Artly currently operates in five locations across Seattle, California and Oregon | Photo credit: Artly
US start-up Artly has raised $8.3m to grow its robotic barista concept across the US.
Founded in Seattle in 2020, Artly promotes its technology as enhancing the accessibility and affordability of specialty coffee.
The company currently operates in five locations across Seattle and California as well as within a store of Japanese retailer MUJI in Oregon.
Artly says its technology reduces the need for human staff in coffee shops, a potentially attractve proposition for operators grappling with a deepening hospitality skills crisis following the pandemic.
Although the company acknowledges that robots reduce the need for human labour at its coffee shops, Artly says its technology empowers baristas by enabling them to oversee operations and focus more on customer experience.
“At Artly, we are developing a robotic platform to preserve and democratise the craftsmanship of creatives in the food and beverage industry. With the help of advanced AI technologies, such as imitation learning and vision-language generative models, our robots can now adapt to new environments and carry out complex and ambiguous tasks. A much wider audience can now enjoy the creation of a skilled barista," says Meng Wang, CEO of Artly.
Although robotic barista concepts are not new, few companies have successfully scaled the business model. US-based Cafe X operates two robotic coffee bars in San Francisco Airport and launched a bar at Dubai’s Museum of the Future in February 2022.
Costa Coffee launched its BaristaBot brand in 2020 following the acquisition of US digital coffee kiosk company Briggo. The machines can make up to 100 coffees per hour and allow customers to order ahead via an app.
In June 2022, Singaporean technology venture Crown Digital announced that ELLA, a fully autonomous robotic barista, would be mass-manufactured this year to meet growing demand for the concept. The robot is currently located at Tokyo and Yokohama Stations in Japan and has been trialled in corporate offices.