The latest thing in coffee production, if you live in San Francisco at least, is robot coffee.
‘Cafe X’ can be found tucked away in a small corner of the upper floor of a San Francisco shopping mall, and all it contains is a robotic arm and a few tables and chairs. No humanoid robot required, the single arm is safely secured within its glass booth, along with stacks of paper cups, two coffee machines, and tubes containing different varieties of coffee beans.
Orders are placed via an app, and payment made on one of two iPads set up beside the robot arm. Cafe X does not accept cash.
The service is fast, with the robot arm able to make, in less than a minute, two cups of coffee at the same time. That definitely beats hanging around waiting for an order while your break ticks by. The absence of any human requirement also keeps costs low, making a coffee cheaper than most of Cafe X’s competitors. And it is good coffee; apparently as good as any other you will get in San Francisco.
Utilitarian but Efficient.
The robot barista may lack the personal touch – this coffee maker will not be drawing pictures in the foam on your cappuccino (at least not yet), but it certainly is efficient. The arm makes the coffees as orders on the app come through, and once an order is ready the customer simply enters the PIN code on the iPad screen, and the coffee will be delivered.
For speed and efficiency, it would seem the robot arm will be hard to beat, but it’s hard to believe that we will be giving up on the more traditional, personal, coffee shop experience just yet. For coffee in a hurry, the robot arm wins hands down, but sometimes you need that personal touch.