This year has already debuted some sizable strides in the world of automation, specifically for the service industry.
Chef B, for example, is a little droid from the Bay Area that can make more than three dozen 12 oz smoothies in an hour. Or what about Cafe X’s assembly line robot-barista that headlined the service tech world last year? Boasting the ability to serve up to three complex specialty drinks in 40 seconds.
While it’s true that these kind of developments are happening all over the world as the technology improves at an exponential rate, a pro automation angle is becoming increasingly harder to promote when it comes to the service world; an industry wherein quantity output is a little less relevant and unemployment rates intimate a slightly more harrowing implication.
Beyond the limits
Briggo currently has one of the most impressive automated brewing machines to date. The machine is known as a “coffee Haus,” and it’s capable of pumping out 100 gourmet cups of coffee in a single hour. The benefits primarily pertain to time conservation. Similar to Cafe X’s brewing machine, customers will order their beverage through an app, giving them the ability to customize every aspect of their drink-from the number of espresso shots to the temperature, and the coffee Haus will promptly get to work.
“No more lines, no more counter confusion, no more misspelled names,” proudly writes Briggo’s website. The president of the company, Kevin Nater, continues, “Imagine you’re coming into the security line at the airport, your flight is coming up, and you know that if you want a coffee you’re going to stand in a long line. From the security line, you can simply order your cup of coffee and pick it up at the coffee Haus and make it to your flight on time.” The company currently has eight of these machines in operation and will be installing another in ABIA and a new one in San Fransisco International Airport in the next few months.
The technology is impressive, no question. And there is something to say about the significant chunk of coffee consumers that privilege quick convenience over intimate quality or the social interaction found in local mom and pop shops. But does this demographic outnumber the rest?
On these developments, human recourses worker and self-confessed coffee addict, Ryan Mulholland told Ladders that he lamented the potential loss of jobs but ultimately felt that customer satisfaction would increase much more on behalf of convenience even without the human interaction element. Though he conceded, on balance, he doesn’t “really care all that much.”
“I hope workers won’t be put out by this stuff but I think a lot of busy coffee heads will really appreciate a system. Go in, grab your coffee, keep it moving. No hiccups.”
Robots replacing humans?
In addition to saying quality won’t be negatively affected by a coffee Haus, Briggo doesn’t believe their technology will come with a negative impact on employment either. The new tech principally aims to fill underemployment gaps by diminishing human service setbacks; like becoming flustered by a huge line or coming tired due to being overworked, things robots are simply incapable of succumbing to.
“We don’t think we’re replacing people. We are creating a high-tech retail and marketing business, and developing jobs in the process,” Nater says, “We just hired two people in the Bay Area, where we are opening a new location in the spring.”
Unfortunately, speed and convenience is not the only token of a good day for some. An Uber driver named Tim Schwartz, who used to attend the same local Bushwick coffee shop as me every Monday through Friday, says that not only does he prefer a human barista, an automated one would not get his business at all.
Schwartz explains: “I’m much happier saying ‘thank you’ to a guy that might’ve put a little more love into that cup of joe and needed a smile and a fiver in his tip jar to improve his day just as he improved mine. Don’t want a robot making my coffee.”