Custom-crafted coffee, cocktails, and drinks made by a robot barista? Who would have thought!
A revolutionary made-in-Singapore retail concept that was successfully launched in 2018 at several locations in China, the newly launched RATIO Café and Lounge is a café by day and lounge by night that lets you have your drinks however you want them in the exact ratio you prefer.
And when we say the exact ratio you want, we really mean it – you can get however many espresso shots you want in your latte, or experiment with spirits, liqueurs, and mixers to create your very own drink.
All you have to do is to just “tell” the robot how you like your beverage and it is done. And AVENUE ONE did just that when we were offered the opportunity to see the robot baristas in action.
First, let’s get acquainted at the high-tech café which recently opened its doors in The Centrepoint right next to Switch, the world’s first workspace on-demand platform.
What to expect at RATIO
From sunrise to sundown, sit back and imbibe in more than 50 inimitable coffee and cocktail classics and unique offerings – some exclusive to RATIO – using beans from Brazil, Guatemala, Ethiopia, and Liberia with carefully selected spirits and homemade Asian ingredients.
The sky’s really the limit here – let your creativity and imagination run wild with your own concoctions or check out RATIO’s own menu guide that’s been thoughtfully curated by a team of experienced mixologists to enlighten both the uninitiated curious drinker as well as the seasoned connoisseur.
RATIO is designed to brew coffee in the day and mix spirits at sundown – a truly versatile venue and space for you to meet clients, socialise or wind down after a long day.
Prices are incredibly affordable too: you can pick up a cup of coffee between S$1 and S$5, and sip on cocktails that are priced from S$11 onwards.
Meet RATIO’s fleet of robot baristas
At RATIO, every drink is made to order by the in-house robot baristas that will execute each drink precisely and perfectly to order and speed; in fact, we’ve been told that these zippy workers can whip up one latte in under one minute!
Gone are the long waiting times and mistakes in your order – now you can just grab your coffee and go with a variety of order modes at RATIO.
There are a few ordering methods you can opt for: skip the queue by placing your order over at the RATIO app even before you get to the store or key in your order using the self-ordering kiosk when you arrive at the café.
Alternatively, you can always do it the old-fashioned way of ordering at the cashier and getting the experienced ratiologists to perhaps recommend you a drink to try.
Once your order has been submitted, simply keep an eye on the order screen which will let you know exactly when your drink is being prepared and when it’s ready for collection.
We absolutely love the design which reminds us of old-school flight information display system, don’t you agree?
RATIO review: A unique café experience for coffee lovers and cocktail drinkers
When you arrived at the sleek café, you would – like us – be greeted by the sight of guests being utterly fascinate by the robotic hands that are putting a performance while fulfilling incoming orders.
In one corner, there’s a robot which has a few tricks up its (non-existent) sleeve when it comes to making cocktails: not only does it mix the exact ratios to a tee, but it’s also programmed to stir, shake, and roll like an actual bartender!
In the other corner, you’ll see a duo of robotic hands that’s more visible via the mall corridor on level five – these are fitted by a programme that RATIO has jointly developed with a tao chew (Nanyang coffee master) who realised the need to pass down the art of making a good cup of Nanyang coffee.
With no interested apprentices in the horizon, the master saw the opportunity of ensuring everlasting legacy by sharing his knowledge and techniques to the RATIO team of award-winning mixologists and software engineers who then created an application to mimic the skills of the celebrated tao chew.
The result? A robot that can ensure a perfectly consistent cup of kopi each time you order, regardless of the day you visit the café. We tried a regular cup of hot kopi gao (S$1.90), and were pleasantly surprised by the intensity and the strength of the coffee, which instantly woke us up from our food coma after lunch.
Of course, we didn’t pass up on the opportunity to tickle our taste buds with AI-made intoxicants – we took our ratiologist’s advice and ordered the signature Tom Yum Martini (S$11).
Similar drinks can come across quite gimmicky elsewhere but lucky for us, that wasn’t the case at RATIO. The distinctive drink spiced up our afternoon the moment we sipped on it – the combination of tom yum vodka, malibu, pineapple, and lime was relatively easy to drink with a slight kick towards the end that reminded us of a good bowl of clear tom yum soup.
To further test the robot’s ability to whip out delicious drinks, we also requested for a Longan Red Date Gimlet (S$11) – the mixture of gin, longan red date sugar, and lemon felt like a spiked version of our favourite oriental dessert.
Those who aren’t looking to imbibe can also pick from RATIO’s selection of low ABV and non-alcoholic beverages – we got the chance to try the Virgin Daiquiri (S$11), which was an enjoyable blend of non-alcoholic rum and lime juice.
Apart from gratifying coffee and alcohol options, we were pleasantly surprised that the light bites and pastries offered at RATIO were equally as delectable!
We sampled the Chicken Lemak, Sambal In Cruffin (S$6.90) and Signature Truffle Egg in Multi-Grain Loaf (S$3.90), both of which exceeded our expectations in terms of taste and portion.
The former, which is a muffin-croissant hybrid stuffed with chicken lemak ingredients, was a hearty dish that we would’ve gone back for seconds had we not stuffed our faces during lunch while the latter was certainly what we’d love to have as a nutritious breakfast every morning – the earthy tones of truffle oil elevated the dish ever so slightly without overwhelming the taste buds.
Other than these generous dishes, you can also try the Egg & Coconut Marmalade Toasted Muffin (S$2.50) as well as croissants, muffins, scones, and cakes!
Mark our words, we’re definitely going to make RATIO our regular haunt for coffee, cocktails, and even afternoon snacks that are equal parts yummy and sizeable.
By the way, we’ve been told that RATIO’s second outlet will be opened at Seletar Aerospace Park very soon so watch this space!
RATIO is located at 176 Orchard Road, #05-06, The Centrepoint, Singapore 238843. The futuristic café opens from 8am to 10pm on weekdays and 9am to 10pm on weekends. Visit Ratio’s website, Facebook or Instagram for more information and updates.
Additional reporting by Lynnett Yip. Additional images by AVENUE ONE team.