Robot technology and Artificial Intelligence are combined in a new f&b concept in Shanghai which promises to create the perfect cocktail or coffee.
Ratio recently launched with a pop-up store in the trendy K11 mall ahead of opening the first of many planned outlets in Chinese cities, at Raffles City in People’s Square.
Drinks are made-to-order – in the exact Ratio customers prefer. For example, if you like a 1.2 shot of espresso in your cappuccino, consider it done. An extra strong 120ml of bourbon in your Old Fashioned cocktail? No problem.
Customers of Ratio can use their phone, which connects with the robot’s ‘brain’. That way, using AI, Ratio can store orders, learns their preferences and even make recommendations during future visits. There is no need to download an app: guests just scan the code at their table, order and pick-up the drinks when they are ready.
Ratio’s obsession with precision is driven by science, explains founder Gavin Pathross. “An individual’s sensory capacity for bitter, sweet, and umami is determined by genetics. The distribution of taste buds is also genetically programmed. That’s why no two taste palates are identical. Using the best robotic technology and software, Ratio has developed and refined a specialised system that can put together ingredients according to the exact ratio that will satisfy your individual palate.”
Pathross calls Ratio’s machines ‘cobots’, short for “collaborative robot”. Each drink is prepared precisely to order, and at speed – it takes less than a minute to make a latte. There are no mistakes, no hygiene issues and no downtime.
“But humans will not be replaced,” promises Pathross. “Cobots are just better than humans in performing repetitive work. They’re great at executing orders, freeing up our team.
Pathross calls his on-site staff Ratiologists, who have been recruited from the ranks of Asia’s best baristas and mixologists. Free from conveying orders and physically making drinks, they can provide personalised service and converse with guests.
“We’re literally raising the bar on beverage service.” says chief Ratiologist, Steve Teo, promising guests they can create the perfect cocktail – with a little help from science.
“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 20ml of lime and 60ml of gin, for example. Bartenders elsewhere will be too busy to have that kind of conversation. That’s why Ratio is unique.”
The menu at Ratio is described as a global taste journey. From Japan to India, China to Thailand, Ethiopia to Guatemala, the globe’s rich diversity of ingredients and exotic food flavours inspired Ratio’s exclusive collection of cocktail, specialty coffee and tea recipes.
“Carefully curated recipes, fresh ingredients and reconstructed flavours, makes every trip to Ratio a culinary adventure for our guests,” says Teo.
Ratio has attracted the attention of some serious businesspeople since the idea was revealed – including Thibault Villet, co-founder and chairman of the Chinese luxury retailer Mei.com. He is an early investor in Ratio.
“With Ratio, bespoke drinks and service, previously available only at high-end hotels and lounges are now accessible to everyone,” he says, describing the concept as a great way to help those less experienced with cocktails or coffee blends learn how to create the perfect cocktail to their taste.
“The Ratio experience is a journey towards self-exploration,” says Villet. “And it empowers individuals to live brilliantly.”
Ratio cafes start with coffee in the early morning and progress into cocktails after sunset, making it a versatile venue and space for customers to meet clients and/or socialise.
Pathross says “dozens” of Ratios are in the pipeline, located in hotels and co-working spaces across Asia.