Baristas, The End Is Nigh: Coffee Robots Are Here

Companies are vying to completely automate the perfect coffee experience.

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Never again will your coffee experience be imperiled by human interaction. Never again will you think, “Oh god, are these baristas judging me for buying five pumpkin spice lattes every day? Do they spit into my cup every time I order a drink that requires more than three adjectives to describe it?” A freshly brewed, perfect stream of coffee is coming to a cup near you, with no hassles, no mistakes (did you say “half-caf” or “decaf”?) and absolutely no variation. Because the army of robot baristas that will soon be pulling your espresso will not make mistakes.

Only last week, we were lamenting the fact that this robot barista could do little more than hand your Keurig-brewed coffee to you. It seems that the race to become the top provider of the barista-less coffee, though, has a lot tougher competition in companies like Briggo, whose Coffee Haus kiosk at the University of Texas at Austin is designed to make a cold-brew iced coffee, shot of espresso or latte up to the standards of even the snobbiest of coffee consumers.

‘We can go well beyond what a high-attrition part-time employee can do.’

“We have calibrated this machine to pull espresso shots to the same specification as an Illy or a Stumptown or an Intelligentsia,” Briggo CEO Keven Nater told Quartz. “We’ve just done it without the human element.” There’s no employee training required, and the machine can be exact about temperatures and water pressure and consistency in a way that a human cannot. “We track every single shot of espresso,” Nater says. “We know if it’s within our quality spec, and we fully control the whole supply chain. We can go well beyond what a high-attrition part-time employee can do.”

You can order ahead with their smartphone app to pick up your drink the minute you walk in the door. It won’t ask you how your day is going, but like any friendly barista, it’ll memorize your favorite order. And since it only needs 50 feet of space (and doesn’t have the kind of overhead a full-on coffee shop that employs humans requires), it can also bring delicious drinks to former latte-wastelands like hospitals, for cheap.

Others are vying for a place in the new world order of robot coffee, too. Starbucks already has plans to put its own Seattle’s Best brand automated kiosk next to every existing Redbox kiosk. Another company, Marley Coffee, is betting on a simple vending machine setup that will fresh-grind beans for every customer but will do away with Briggo’s fresh milk in favor of the powdered variety. Sounds like we’re fast approaching a robot barista standoff.