Sounds like the perfect job for a computer. I highly doubt most baristas are checking atmospheric pressure or are even mindful of minute temperature charges throughout the day. Since these aspects are things that are monitor-able at high precision, it’s doubtful that your average barista is going to outperform a computer. The social aspects of the barista are a worthwhile, but unrelated debate.
> a person who makes and serves coffee (such as espresso) to the public
Sounds to me like this robot is a barista. Do you also think Starbucks baristas aren't baristas, just because they don't work in a high-end coffeeshop?
Is the McDonalds employee who makes and serves coffee from the pot a barista too?
They might meet the dictionary definition, but I don’t think they would meet the expectations held by those who use the term.
Are these robots persons?
And then there's the (albeit brief) interaction. Sometimes a barista is someone you get to know, who knows exactly what your order is, and begins preparing it as they see you walking down the street toward their shop.
They are someone with whom you can have a strong acquaintance as you talk of small things. Sometimes these acquaintances become friendships...
I would never go a cafe to see a robot press a button. If I only wanted coffee I'd get a nespresso or similar (which are never as good in my experience).
Would a robot know to suggest you to occasionally try a different roast? Would a robot know to NOT suggest you try a different roast?
Personally I don't see the draw to a goofy robotic arm that slings espresso. Vending machines are already a thing, coffee included. This just seems like an excessively expensive way to implement one.
Then I’m going down the steps, and my wife calls up, “Where are you going?” I say, “Well, I’m going to go buy an envelope.” And she says, “You’re not a poor man. Why don’t you buy a thousand envelopes? They’ll deliver them, and you can put them in a closet.” And I say, “Hush.” So I go down the steps here, and I go out to this newsstand across the street where they sell magazines and lottery tickets and stationery. I have to get in line because there are people buying candy and all that sort of thing, and I talk to them. The woman behind the counter has a jewel between her eyes, and when it’s my turn, I ask her if there have been any big winners lately. I get my envelope and seal it up and go to the postal convenience center down the block at the corner of 47th Street and 2nd Avenue, where I’m secretly in love with the woman behind the counter. I keep absolutely poker-faced; I never let her know how I feel about her. One time I had my pocket picked in there and got to meet a cop and tell him about it. Anyway, I address the envelope to Carol in Woodstock. I stamp the envelope and mail it in a mailbox in front of the post office, and I go home. And I’ve had a hell of a good time. And I tell you, we are here on Earth to fart around, and don’t let anybody tell you any different.
Electronic communities build nothing. You wind up with nothing. We’re dancing animals. How beautiful it is to get up and go do something. [Gets up and dances a jig.]
- Kurt Vonnegut
In terms of human interaction, just like in the past, humans will always find ways to get their share of interaction.
Basically Tokyo right now
"As for flavor, it tasted like a blend of Nescafé and shelf-stabilized milk. Convenient, serviceable, like coffee from an office vending machine."
Yes, there's human interaction and other subjective factors going into what people report taste as - much like knowing whether an artist traced a photo when making art (demonstrates skill without technological assistance)
But sometimes this changes - eg Europeans initially rejecting Californian and Australian wines, then grading them well in blind tests, then accepting them more (with some hold outs for traditional regions or high prestige makers etc)
Baristas are great for customer loyalty, and a good barista will have dozens of daily regulars that look forward to interacting with them and are emotionally invested in the coffee shop. A robot-staffed coffee shop won't.
A barista is not just someone that makes and brings coffee; there are a bunch of other tasks that need to happen at a coffee shop. This robot misses a ton of tasks that would be critical for any real coffee shop:
- Pastries, paninis, food handling of any sort in general.
- Bussing tables, cleaning messes, washing dishes.
- Refilling/rotating creamer, sugar packets, etc.
Most importantly, robots have no passion for coffee so your customers will have no passion for your coffee. Good baristas have pride in their craft. May as well drink office or 7/11 coffee if a robot is making it.
Also I think the goal of this project is ethically questionable; it's not freeing people from the tedium of the assembly line. It's replacing fulfilling, social, OK-paid jobs that many people enjoy, and for the exclusive benefit of the capitalist class.
I don't know about you, but when I go to a coffee shop, I never talk to the barista. The barista is behind a machine, where I can't talk to them. I talk to the person at the counter where I place my order, and who takes my card, gives me my pastry, etc. Why do I need a human making a drink when a robot can do it better.
It's insane how tech people, of all people, will try to claim that humans can do easily-automated, repetitive things better than machines.
The machine is already a machine. it doesn’t need an external machine to physically control it. Thats what networks are for.
And it probably makes terrible coffee. Notice the lack of late art, and the poor quality of the foam.
What I mean by this is that we have the current technology to do "decent" latte foam and that anything else should be considered a short cut, human or robot derived.
I'm pretty sure barista will eventually go the way of the soda jerk. It's inconceivable to this generation; people can't imagine giving up the 'human touch' and personalization. But one day, maybe 20 years from now or two or three generations from now, convenience of automatic systems will win and the barista will be relegated to one or two retro novelty shops in large cities. And the people in this thread will be the new elderly curmudgeons, complaining about how young people live life too fast and fucked it all up.
Look to CafeX for a slightly different approach at the exact same concept. Except the whole coffee shop fits in a 2 meter cube.
Personally I think the most effective coffee machine won't even use these gigantic industrial robot arms. But they make for an entertaining gimmick.
To me this is exactly like seeing an article about sommelier and a picture of a guy drinking wine from a paper cup. Well no it's actually much worse: wine is rather cold compared to coffee so it doesn't extract the taste of paper and plastic as much as coffee does.
I really really can't understand how anyone would spend over $2 (often significantly more) to drink anything out of a disposable container. One espresso costs them at most $0.20 in beans, electricity and water, you mark it up 10 times, you gotta give me the option of a ceramic or glass cup. Compare that with a glass of wine, which usually is marked up only 2-3 times in a restaurant...
You ask why? One really simple reason - the thermal conductivity is really low both due to low mass and the material.
By comparison, putting the coffee in one of my nice Illy collector cups that I've had for a quarter century (and now are probably worth $100-150 per cup) causes some dissonance when I drink it. The cup is cold on a relative basis to the coffee. And my espresso machine does not have a cup heater. And making a cup that hot would be uncomfortable to touch.
Ten years ago, I would have thought this was madness, and now I worry about not having access to the cups anymore (I got them through a friend who ordered them commercially).
Once you get used to drinking out of such a cup, the coffee is the entire experience. There is no real notice of a cup getting in the way of the frothy goodness of the coffee between the cup and your taste buds.
 Peets, Blue Bottle, Andy Town, Ritual, Starbucks and mom and pops.
So given these considerations, as an Italian if I pay more than 3 euros for a coffee I expect:
* to be served in a bone china cup
* to be served by a polite waiter
* to be sitting at an outdoors table with view of some major monument
* to have a glass of mineral water and a small cookie come with it
(As an aside I once had a coffee at one of those fancier Starbucks in the US, it was 4 dollars + tax and honestly not very good)
(and I'm not going to get started on a rant on the sheer cultural colonialism and appropriation that goes with what you just said)
Somewhat related fun fact: did you know that the waffle ice cream cone was invented to make the ice cream "to go" before paper cups were widespread?
I don't expect automated cafes to be as good in every way, but if they can get 80% of the way there with higher speed or lower costs they'll have my business.
I love a good espresso but you can‘t even get that at most places. A lot of people seem to like Starbucks I don‘t think they serve a good espresso. It seems to me that they specialize in hot milkshakes and not coffee.
Reminds me of John Henry from the great Johnny Cash:
"Now did the Lord say that machines ought to take place of livin'?
And what's a substitute for bread and beans? I ain't seen it!
Do engines get rewarded for their steam?"
TL;DR (I watched this a couple of months ago, so this is an attempt a remembering the thesis. I also don't know if I agree or not that this is a good future, but it is the future presented in the video) -- the robots are coming, which is going to give us push-button coffee. There will still be people there to give you a human experience, and they'll get to focus on that experience instead of being split between making coffee and talking to you.
Americans have been culturally trained to tip. It’s easy money.
I was also shocked at how much cheaper decent hotel rooms are there.