When I think of kopitiams, I think of good old coffee and breakfast made the traditional way. But now it seems that coffee shops will have a machine like Kopimatic to make ‘authentic’ drinks automatically, without having to rely on drink makers.
Singaporean coffee shop operator and founder of the invention Jason Thai came up with the idea after enduring the lack of skilled kopi ‘Tao Chiew’. The press release mentions that the Kopimatic can get rid of inconsistent standards and absenteeism, and that he used his mechanical engineering skills to build the machine out of frustration and necessity.
“(Back then) I thought maybe there’s a machine which can actually make Nanyang-style coffee so I can have that role filled and then be the cashier, but then I discovered that this machine did not exist,” he said.
How it works
The Kopimatic is fully automated. The user just needs to pour coffee powder or tea into brewer, and with a press of a single button, ‘kopi’ and ‘teh’ is brewed and pumped into a mixer—along with with evaporated, condensed milk and sugar solutions stored in separate tanks to be added consistently for every cup.
Thai created a few versions of the machine before settling on his third Kopimatic. His first one was “just a row of pumps on a metal shelf and the pipes were scattered around.” Now, the KopiMatic has become more compact and ergonomic—featuring a dual dispenser and a set of buttons for various common kopi orders.
But, how do the drinks turn out?
When it comes to taste, Thai and the team at Hawkermatic said they are confident that even a ‘kopi connoisseur’ will not be able to tell the difference between the machine and a trained hand. According to the inventor, customers at his coffee shop were surprised to learn that they had been drinking coffee from a machine this whole time.
In another taste test, several bosses of Singaporean kopitiam chains could not tell the difference between a cup brewed on the spot by one of their staff members and a cup brewed by the KopiMatic. Hawkermatic has since closed a high six figure deal for the Patent-pending Kopimatic system, which will be rolled out into various Singaporean coffeeshops and chains from August 2020.
The company also joins recent coffee related ventures that has snagged tech funding like Indonesian based Kopi Kenangan, and Xiamen-based Luckin Coffee. Hawkermatic targets to rollout 1,000 systems—made in Singapore—by 2022. Businesses can install the machine in their shops for SGD250 (RM764) a month on a hire purchase plan.