Robotic Coffee Comes To Brooklyn, But Will It Stay?

Robots are cool. Everyone knows it, and [Eater NY] highlights a coffee shop with a robotic server opening in Brooklyn. While robots able to prepare and serve drinks or food is not new, it isn’t every day a brick-and-mortar café with a robot behind the counter opens up. But expensive automation isn’t the only puzzle piece needed to make a location work.

A robotic coffee shop (like a robotic burger joint) certainly offers novelty, but can it sustain itself beyond that?

As one example, the linked article above points out that the city of New York prohibits entirely cashless businesses. Establishments must accept cash payments, and it’s unclear how the touchscreen-driven system would comply with that requirement.

There are also many tasks involved in running even a modest establishment — loading, cleaning, and maintaining for example — that can’t be realistically taken care of by an immobile robot barista. It’s unclear to what extent the robotic coffee shop will employ human staff, but it’s clear that human involvement is something that isn’t going be eliminated any time soon.

Some of you may remember the robotic burger joint that our own Brian Benchoff managed to check out, and many of his same observations come to mind. The robot burger was perhaps ahead of its time (its single location is listed as closed on Google maps with no recent activity) but maybe the robot coffee place can make it work. Still, expensive automation is only one piece of a system, and the ability to crank out a drink per minute 24/7 might not actually be the missing link.

25 thoughts on “Robotic Coffee Comes To Brooklyn, But Will It Stay?

    1. Way to state something that not only demonstrates that you know zero about a topic but have, in fact, formed a very strong opinion in the exact polar opposite direction. So I’ll say we (as scientists) will get around to curing cancer just as soon as we sort out space. Once we get space handled we will have some free time to get on with curing all the cancer.
      My HTML is rusty so I’ll be explicit. Snark.

    1. Do you know how you get big valuations and massive funding so you can salary yourself astronomically and buy your dreams?

      robots are a good start.
      Now they need to have it make custom drinks based off AI interpretations of best preferences using 23andme data. Theyll be dripping in teslas by next weekend!

  1. “it’s unclear how the touchscreen-driven system would comply with that requirement.”

    Although not too common, cash registers where the human inputs your order and you have to throw your money into a funnel at your side of the counter are nothing new.

  2. >Establishments must accept cash payments,

    so a bill acceptor? like every self checkout register?

    >establisments must have electricity, not sure what they intend to do there, Probably have to invent cold fusion for this concept to work

    1. I order a cup of coffee. I now owe a debt to store. I take out paper that says it is good for all debts public and private and leave that as payment. I don’t see why a separate law was required (but IAMAL).

    1. Sydney buses are cashless, and have been for a few years now. You can either get a special travel card, or just tap on and off with a contactless credit/debit card.
      When they system (relying on 3G connection) works it’s great. Otherwise free travel for the passengers. I’ve had a few people try to pay with cash, but I just tell them I can’t accept it, say they can tap on with a credit card, and just kind of nod them on.

      1. That’s great for some services, not so great for others.

        Just the other day I was at a gas pump and the credit card slot was busted, and the machine refused to authenticate contactless, so what to do? Where’s the next pump? Fortunately I had cash and the machine could take it.

  3. Encountered a “robot bubble tea vendor” nearby recently, which was a big glass box with a robot arm in the middle of all the various dispensers and things. Gave it enough money to set it off and was immediately disappointed – while it did it’s job perfectly, the programming of the arm was practically beginner level. Separate pre-recorded operations that ran very slowly, with long delays in the neutral position before doing the next operation. Where’s the motion planning? Where’s the smooth transition from one operation to the next? I don’t want to see “trust-fund baby’s first robotics project”, dammit! :D

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