A robotic barista is in the works of being added to Café X in the Metreon in San Francisco. Comprised of a robotic arm that serves the coffee and two fully automatic coffee machines, it will be the first machine of its kind in the United States. According to an article in PC World, it can make up to one to four drinks per minute depending on the complexity of the drink order (PC World). There are two different ways to place an order—either through the accompanying smartphone app or at one of the kiosks near the robot. When a customer’s drink is ready, they receive a four-digit code that is needed to retrieve their drink. Café X CEO Henry Xu stated that he started Cafe X “to eliminate that inherent compromise and give people access to a tasty cup of coffee consistently and conveniently."
The robot barista seems like an efficient machine, and in theory would be much more efficient than human baristas as there is a lot of room for human error in making coffee beverages. As a self-proclaimed coffee lover, I can attest to the idea that some baristas are inherently more “talented” at making your favorite beverage just the way you like it. Additionally, there are times when you notice that your drink was made with the wrong type of milk or the wrong amount of sweetener, and most coffee shops have their baristas remake drinks if a customer notices their drink was made incorrectly. Will the robot barista be able to account for this level of personalization usually experienced at coffee shops? What happens when the machine breaks? Will fixing or replacing a broken machine cost more than paying human employees? What does this mean for the future of coffee shops and fast food industry? Will robots replace human employees more and more within the food service industry?
For more information, please visit PC World here.
Flickr / Photo by Helen K.