Robots and Fine Dining Poised to Change the Coffee Industry

Robotic Barista

Baristas and coffee connoisseurs are unanimous that the way coffee is being consumed is about to change. The reason is that both robots and fine dining have started to influence the coffee industry, pulling it apart in two opposite directions. Even if it may seem preposterous to have a robotic arm serving a cup of coffee in a coffee shop, the fact is that this scenario is already a reality. At the same time, drinkers are increasingly on the lookout for rich and unique savoir-faire, hence preferring fine dining-like experiences.

Robotic baristas have started to replace human ones

Coffee has originated as a “functional” beverage and this aspect still subsists. People around the world need their caffeine to get a kick for the day when waking up. To respond to this functional demand while ensuring efficiency and precision, coffee shops are innovating, not at all reluctant to embrace automation. In San Francisco, the start-up Café X is already using a robotic system designed specifically to replace human baristas in two coffee shops. Initially launched in Hong Kong by three friends obsessed with robotics and efficiency, the coffee chain is currently serving gourmet coffee in the United States from a kiosk featuring a very advanced robotic arm powered by new technologies. Customers can place their orders via their mobile phones or a kiosk screen. In less than a minute, the swiveling six-axis robotic arm can proficiently prepare a coffee drink for them according to their flavours and other choices.

The robotic system is being acclaimed for its beverage making skills. Further than this, it is proving how human mistakes and inefficiencies are being avoided. This coffee-making robotic barista represents multiple advantages. Clearly, the fact that the efficiency is much higher and that waste is much lower when compared to a human barista allows rapidity of quality service at lower costs.  The Cafe X system is estimated to make up to 120 drinks per hour and requires just one human to be present to administer the machine and assist customers. Hundreds of patrons will undeniably have to wait less before receiving their perfectly brewed cup of coffee. And of course, the coffee price is cheaper too.

Embracing the advantages of an automated barista at the expense of the romantic approach

This automated system equally avoids other human-related hiccups such as sick days or the need for health insurance and transport allowances. Nonetheless, this elite tool does require costs such as maintenance. Further enhancements are still being made in the supply chain, in customer support, and in terms of recipes as well. Meanwhile, Café X has planned to open a third coffee shop in San Francisco itself following growing popularity after putting a twist on the traditional barista model.

Coffee diehards, on their side, strongly believe that the perfect cup of coffee has to be made in an artisanal way. Freshly-ground pour-over is viewed as the only way to go. Nonetheless, the fact is that manual pour-overs are not actually better than automated ones. Different baristas produce different results and it may happen that the same barista messes it up. Conversely, a tuned precision-built robot will make the same consistent cup every single time. On a parallel note, consumers themselves are generally in a hurry and not everyone has even seven minutes to wait for a complicated latte for instance. Smart coffee shop owners are aware of this. Embracing automation may help them sustain the bottom line even if it implies sacrificing the ‘romantic’ approach of the traditional barista.

There are always coffee lovers looking for experiences

Not every coffee drinker is looking for a caffeine fix. Many are out there searching for unique and rich experiences. For these customers, a hand-poured cup of coffee can represent a moment of peace in a chaotic life. It can represent some minutes of calm, cut off from the constant hectic pace of everyday life. As a matter of fact, an increasing number of coffee lovers appreciate the social aspect of a good coffee shop. Having a cup of coffee is so much more than drinking a beverage. It allows them to enjoy the atmosphere and the human elements of cafes. A coffee shop manned by robots can simply not cultivate the same sort of clientele.

As coffee addicts become more knowledgeable about the various types of coffee, the origins and the methods of preparation, being served by a robotic arm will simply imply depriving them of all the co-related experiences of enjoying a cup of coffee. Simultaneously, human baristas are become more and more popular, attracting coffee lovers around the world. Many consumers go for a cup of coffee to enjoy the work of these baristas too. The cup of coffee prepared by the latter is a work of art, reflecting their discipline, perseverance, and creativity. Every single step in the process becomes a celebration.

Coffee has become an affordable luxury for some consumers

There is also a segment of coffee lovers that is very serious about coffee. Passionate, the latter are relentlessly looking for the best-tasting cups of coffee paired with co-related experiences. This new generation is valuing coffee as an affordable luxury, demanding a natural partnership between the finest quality coffee and culinary experiences. Restaurants have understood that to cater for this niche clientele, it is crucial to present coffee as a sublime conclusion to an exceptional dining experience.

This has paved the way for a new form of art where the vocabulary and expertise in wine tasting are being lent to the art of coffee tasting. The sommelier in such a restaurant, for instance, imperatively needs to master how to effectively identify the characteristics of types of coffee to marry other food and beverages. All the same, the perfect coffee experience remains an individual matter. If certain coffee connoisseurs relish intense coffee, others prefer more subtle gustatory notes. But coffee experts in restaurants have to be properly armed to offer sensory perfection to lure any client.

This article on rapid changes in the coffee industry in recent years is one of several articles written by Leslie Carr of Scyphus Paper Cups, a UK Manufacturer of Biodegradable and Compostable Branded Paper Cups, specialising in Coffee Cups. Leslie has a keen interest in the coffee and paper packaging industries since both are what determines the path his industry follows.

Source: Scyphus, UK