Henn-na Hotel, now Henna Cafe
A few years ago, a place called Henn-na Hotel opened in Nagasaki and was the first major hotel to have robots at the front desk. Henn-na means strange in Japanese.
— マーガリンは強い (@0e0A) 2018年2月10日
This time, we want to introduce a place where you can experience such strange service for a few hundred yen. The same company that opened the hotel, now has a cafe called Henna Cafe in the basement of MODI Shibuya, a shopping mall in the buzzing area of Shibuya.
Here, the baristas are replaced by robots and everything from grinding beans to serving coffee is done by these robots.
Get your token
This is probably not that unusual as many ramen restaurants and other chain restaurants make use of voucher machines for your order. This saves on labor cost as well as increases efficiency.
But of course, it won’t feel like a cafe unless you have some interaction with the barista. The robot barista at Henna Cafe is called “Sawyer,” who greets customers and asks if you’d like some coffee with friendly expressions on an attached screen.
Usually a cafe would have two to three people to take your order, grind the beans, start brewing the coffee but here Sawyer does all of this.
Once you choose your drink and get your token, Sawyer will scan the barcode and starts preparing your beverage straight away.
Robots start making your coffee!
The robot barista grabs a paper cup, moves it toward the coffee machine and presses the start button. It is an open area so you can even see how the process is completed.
Once the coffee is ready, your cup is placed on the counter. It takes about 3 minutes to get a cup of coffee.
Of course, your name won’t be called out like it would at a normal coffee shop but it is quite impressive that you get a coffee for 320 yen, slightly cheaper than other cafes. In addition to making your coffee, Sawyer also cleans filters and discards coffee.
Considering the whole place is run by a robot, it is impressive. Freshly ground coffee made right in front of you costing just a few 100 yen coins is amazing. It may seem gimmicky at first but when you try the coffee, you’ll realize it is not too bad. Considering a coffee at a convenience store costs about 200 yen, for 120 yen more, you get a funky barista to brew your cuppa.
If you’re planning to visit Shibuya, then stop by at this “strange” place. Once is enough 😉
Strange Cafe (Henna Cafe)
Address: B1F Shibuya Modi, 1-21-3 Jinnan, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Business Hours: 11:00 – 21:00 (LO 20:30)