In a downtown parking lot, coffee connoisseurs can opt to have their next latte made by a machine.
Javai Coffee Revolution, a new Denver startup, is launching a fully automatic kiosk on the corner of 16th and Wazee streets on Wednesday. It will operate from 6 a.m. and 8 p.m.
The machine carries coffee, teas and lemonades and offers toppings like whipped cream and cookie crumbles. Prices range from $2.85 for a shot of espresso to $3.95 for more complicated drinks.
The company hopes to install a second machine in August near Coors Field, on the corner of 21st and Larimer streets.
Javai co-founder David Shields combined his background in software development and his co-founders’ backgrounds in engineering to build and program the machine.
“We saw a need for automation in the service industry, where there seemed to be a gap,” he said. “I took interest right away when we first talked about the idea because it’s something that I’ve really always cared about.”
The founders hope to sell 250 cups of coffee a day, which would work out to between $800 and $1,000 in revenue.
The machine is 7-by-5-feet and is encased in glass. It sits inside a steel casing that’s 11 feet tall and 8 feet long with wooden trim. The casing has four shutter doors that can be closed when it’s not operating.
The machine does not require a person to operate it and can make drinks in under 60 seconds. It’s set to self-clean every 30 minutes, although a technician is scheduled to stop by daily to maintain and restock it.
The machine uses a commercial-grade Eversys espresso machine that has been altered to be controlled by a robotic arm. Milk is stored in a refrigerator connected to the machine via sealed silicone hoses.
Shields said the machine learns using artificial intelligence to improve its drink-making efficiency and multitasking. It also has unique milk-frothing technology that uses pressure pulsing.
“I feel like we’re in the milk business. We’re in the coffee business, but what we can do with milk is quite special,” he said. “Our machine uses a special vortex method of making the milk so that the froth on your latte or mocha will stay there for quite a long time and have a good density to it.”
When ingredients are low, the company uses an app built especially for the machine to alert them, and they send out a technician to restock it. The kiosk can hold 250 cups for cold and hot drinks, and the refrigerator can hold 10 gallons of milk.
The company sources its syrups and beans from Dazbog Coffee, and the machine grinds beans on the spot.
Javai was founded in June 2022 by Emrah Kulunk and David Shields, who then brought on Justin Sullivan and Jack Barksdale. Kulunk and Shields said they’ve financed the business with personal savings; the team has an office at 1600 Broadway but primarily work from home.
Shields said the company’s target audience is those on the go who need the pick-me-up.
“Our strategy is to find the best places where we feel like our brand and customer experience will be in the city,” he said. “16th Street has always been a target of ours, and it’s a staple of Denver — it’s such a popular area for tourism and locals. It has a lot of foot traffic, and it’s got a really good crowd of people.”
Javai strikes a deal with parking lot owners to place the machines. Shields declined to disclose specifics.
The company hopes to open up to 50 locations by next year. For now, they’re working to perfect the customer experience at the first few locations.
Correction: This story has been updated to clarify Emrah Kulunk and David Shields co-founded the company.