The demand for functional foods and drinks that help consumers live healthier lives is driving some inventive restaurant leaders to invest in equipment designed for fast, convenient service of premium items with higher margins than traditional beverages. Botrista offers easy-to-use, automated beverage solutions that combine its DrinkBot with a line of pre-packaged ingredients.
Founded in 2017 and led by Sean Hsu, co-founder and CEO, the company’s system takes up just five square feet of space to produce customizable drink recipes at the touch of a button. It allows operators to capitalize on the growing craft drink trend, drive additional revenue streams and increase efficiency during a labor shortage, with minimal training or overhead costs.
With a background in engineering, including work on the assembly robots that built Tesla’s Model S, X and 3, Hsu says his experience with automation allowed him to understand the complexity of putting together a machine that could mix, dispensary and dispense a variety of products. The result was the DrinkBot, which uses liquids instead of powders or artificial syrups to create a wide range of drinks. The drinks can be dispensed by an employee or through self-service, and the system has a number of other features to help operators manage inventory, sales and menu performance.
At FSTEC 2023, attendees can see and taste the DrinkBot at booth 233. Mark Hatch, VP of Foodservice Trade Relations at Winsight Media and host of the show, says he’s seen customers light up as they try freshly-blended botrista drinks.
The platform’s newest product, the iBlend, has the ability to blend up to 12 drinks at once, enabling restaurants to offer a greater selection of flavors than other drink solutions can. The system has an intuitive touchscreen interface that makes the process simple for employees to learn, and the machine is programmed to serve the highest-selling drinks first. It also keeps track of the cost of each ingredient and the amount of time spent preparing each beverage.
The system can dispense hot or cold drinks, and it has a built-in cup warmer. For foodservice operators, the iBlend is easy to clean and requires no additional space for inventory and storage. It can also be connected to a kitchen management system to receive alerts when refills are needed.
Botrista also provides a subscription-based business model, where the hardware is free and restaurants pay for each drink sold. That enables them to pass on the higher profit of the premium drinks and also reduce the cost of high-sugar sodas that people are increasingly shunning. The cost to operate a typical machine can be less than $500 per month. The hardware is connected to the Botrista CloudBar, which combines a user-friendly drink recipe software with inventory and sales performance analytics. The company is currently available in 26 states and will continue to expand nationwide.