Ratio uses robots in Shanghai to create the perfect drink

A retail concept harnessing the power of technology to deliver personalised coffee and cocktails has opened in China.

Ratio uses robots to craft personalised espresso coffee during the day and cocktails at night.

Launched with a pop-up store at Shanghai’s K11 Art Mall, the concept is about to find a permanent home at Raffles City, People’s Square. Dozens more stores are in the pipeline at hotels and co-working spaces in Asia.

“With Ratio, bespoke drinks and service, previously available only at high-end hotels and lounges are now accessible to everyone,” says co-founder and chairman of Chinese luxury retailer Mei.com,Thibault Villet, who is a cornerstone investor in Ratio.

“The Ratio experience is a journey towards self-exploration and it and empowers individuals to live brilliantly.”

At ratio, drinks are made to order, in the exact ratio customers prefer. For example, a 1.2 shot of espresso in a cappuccino, or an extra strong 120ml bourbon in an Old Fashioned cocktail.

Ratio uses science to come up with the perfect blends.

“An individual’s sensory capacity for bitter, sweet, and umami is determined by genetics,” explains founder Gavin Pathross. “The distribution of taste buds is also genetically programmed. That’s why no two taste palates are identical.”

Using robotic technology and software, Ratio has developed a system that can put together ingredients according to the exact ratio that will satisfy individual tastes.

Ratio

Harnessing the accuracy and consistency of a cobot – that’s short for “collaborative robot” – each drink is prepared precisely to order and speed; a latte takes less than one minute.

Using AI, Ratio stores customers’ orders, learns their preferences and even makes recommendations during future visits.

Pathross promises humans will not be replaced, however. “Cobots are just better than humans in performing repetitive work. They’re great at executing orders, freeing up our team of Ratiologists, assembled from Asia’s best baristas and mixologists, so that they can do what they do best – provide personalised service and have great conversation with our guests.”

The Ratio team

The team of Ratiologists Pathross has assembled have a combined 50 years of food and beverage industry experience.

“We’re literally raising the bar on beverage service,” says chief Ratiologist Steve Teo.

“Our team will help guests discover their individual preferences and customise their own Ratio. We want you to be particular about your G&T and select precisely 20 ml of lime and 60 ml of gin, for example. Bartenders elsewhere will be too busy to have that kind of conversation. That’s why Ratio is unique.”

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