Octane Coffee: No employees? No problem!

By Anna Lardinois

Startup Storyteller

When Octane Coffee founder and CEO Adrian Deasy started pitching his idea for an app-driven, fully automated, drive-through contactless coffee shop in 2018, the idea was revolutionary. Some who heard his pitch doubted that he could get people to order items on an app, or that customers would patronize a place that they could not enter. The pandemic changed all of that.

In 2022, in-app ordering and contactless delivery has become commonplace; as Deasy notes, “COVID fast-forwarded that technology.”

Deasy is a Mechanical Engineer with a passion for building things and a background in manufacturing. Brainstorming new business ideas at a convention, Deasy saw the long line wrapped around a Starbucks kiosk and commented to his friend that he was surprised no one had yet automated that process. He observed the long turnaround time for drinks and the impatient customers waiting to be served, and it sparked an idea. A few months later, Octane Coffee was launched, and the men were in business together.

Octane aims to capture young, tech-savvy coffee drinkers who value speed and ease over the in-store experience. Customers place their orders on the Octane Coffee app. The app then tracks the user on GPS, brewing the order between one and two minutes before the car is scheduled to arrive at the pickup window. Octane hot beverages are brewed at a higher temperature than is typical, to ensure the be coffee is at the ideal temperature once the customer arrives.

At the center of the action is an industrial robot that acts as a barista. The automated system can make any order, from a cup of black coffee to a vanilla latte with a half pump of cinnamon syrup. They also offer cold, bottled beverages, which are retrieved from coolers by the same robotic arm making coffee. The system has scores of backups, powered by a computer program that is constantly checking everything from the coarseness of the fresh coffee beans to the air pressure being used to froth milk. 

Because the company was founded in part as a remedy for a poor customer experience, it is not surprising that Octane Coffee is hyper-focused on providing their clients an excellent experience. Deasy aims to delight customers and wants his innovative technology to seem like “magic” to those who order from Octane Coffee. He wants people to drive away thinking, “how did that happen? What was that?”

To exceed customers’ expectations, Deasy said he “overbuilt” many of the customer-facing aspects of the automated location. For example, the delivery window height varies, so whether a customer arrives in a truck or a compact car, the driver will always be able to reach their order.

The Wisconsin native is proud of his Badger heritage, and he makes an effort to use local materials in the manufacture of the automated units. Not only is his equipment locally made, but Octane coffee cups are filled with Stone Creek Coffee, and the refrigerators are stocked with juices from Glendale-based Healthy Roots.

With a seed fund of half a million dollars- that included owner investment, angel funding, and a successful funding round on WeFunder, Octane Coffee is set to launch its first standalone location in Spring, 2022 at W229 N1400 Westwood Drive, near the intersection of Interstate 94 and Highway F.

Once the corporate-owned locations are running at full speed, Octane Coffee plans to franchise its fully contained coffee shops. Not surprisingly, there is a long list of eager entrepreneurs waiting to break into the $73.9 Billion specialty coffee market for a fraction of the price of a traditional coffee shop.

While automated coffee kiosks are not unique, Octane Coffee is offering the first drive-through, standalone automated coffee shop. The team has developed a number of original, patented pieces of equipment that allow the concept to work, that will likely appeal to other big names in the beverage industry, like Lavazza and JDE Peet’s, making a lucrative exit a possibility for the company.

To follow the launch of Wisconsin’s first fully automated coffee shop, connect with Octane here.

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