Robot Coffee (+ bonus pun!)

They aren’t new; there are a number of these “Robot Coffee Kiosks” (机器人咖啡亭) around Shanghai, and more have been popping up lately. Here’s what they look like:


The little attached tablet is how you order and pay (AliPay or WeChat Pay, of course.)


Around 15 RMB (about USD 2.31) per cup is cheap for Shanghai. I just tried it the other day, and the coffee is… not great. I tried the hazelnut latte, and while the company deserves credit for not making the coffee too sweet, they made the bizarre choice of adding way too much crushed hazelnut topping. I was literally chewing my way through half the latte. That’s a first!

I never ever see people buying coffee from these kiosks. I don’t expect them to be around much longer.

Finally, a pun that learners of Chinese can understand (that’s kind of my thing now):


The text reads:

The world’s “first” cup of robot coffee

So the pun there is using , meaning “drip” or “drop,” instead of . The word for “first” is, of course, 第一. The word for “drip coffee” is 滴滤咖啡 (literally, “drip-filtered coffee”).


John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.


  1. […] not buying any of this on any level! (Oh, and this is the same robot coffee that I’ve blogged about […]

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