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A Robot Barista or A Human Barista?

How do robotic baristas change the coffee industry? Does service robotics eliminate the human jobs?
Let’s investigate at the few examples.

Fresh-brewed coffee from a robot or a flesh-and-blood barista?

The choice is for real, now that the beverage and food industry plunges into automation, exploring the capabilities of robotics, data science, and artificial intelligence (AI).

Meeting over a cup of plain Cappuccino or fancy Frappuccino for a date or a friendly chat is a tradition widely adopted across nations and all the population groups. As old-day rituals experience transformations chivvied by technological growth, options of “having a mug” are extended with finely selected brews by intelligent barista robots.

Alongside excitement about the novelty technology and its long-term business advantages, thoughts are voiced that buying coffee from a robot ruins intimacy of the moment. Is the human touch a too big sacrifice to improved efficiency and diminished labor expenditures? Let us investigate how a flesh-and-blood barista compares against a robo cafe.

Coffee robot vs. barista capabilities

Consistent and controlled beverage quality

Coffeehouse regulars may notice each time the same employee makes a bit different brew. When coffee servers at a restaurant are numerous, gustatory variations are still more evident. Making an order at that selfsame place, you can never be sure to walk away with the exactly similar flavor or strength of coffee as during a previous visit.

In contrast, robot baristas reproduce various beverage properties to the slightest nuances repeatedly, based on preset personal preferences. Quantity of espresso shots, milk froth, or a sweet syrup — always precisely identical content in a jar.

No massive lines, no sweat, no welter

During rush hours, when things get busy and hasty, baristas are prone to errors, messing up with orders: confusing names, ingredients, quantities, etc. Human bodies get tired and slow—hence the annoying queues. Waiting in line is never fun, especially when running late for work in the morning or rushing to catch a plane at an airport.

Coffee-making barista bots or automated kiosks boast fast working cycles: existing solutions are claimed to brew up to 300 portions a shift. Robots can work 24/7. The machines need no breaks, except for refilling or cleaning, never call in sick and toil tirelessly.

Valuable insights into customer flows and preferences

It is unlikely that a human server at a counter can keep records of customer requests, count related numbers without detriment to usual duties. Either serving speed is affected, causing buyers’ discontent, or accuracy of collected information suffers, resulting in business missing real chances to improve.

Enhanced with AI aptitude, robotic baristas gather required data without diverting attention from the primary objective of serving coffee to the guests. The multi-tasking ability enables keeping the clientele happy while providing managers with essential evidence about consumer traffic, popular products, etc.

Reduced costs and eliminated labor shortage

The price of a java brewed by a robot equals the cost of a portion served at a regular coffee spot (about 3 to 4 dollars in the USA). However, hiring a human employee to do the job involves indirect expenses—social security and insurance, paying up sick leaves, labor compensations, etc.

In the case of a robotic coffee bar, the only expense to consider is the servicing cost, typically minimal due to the high reliability of the automated solutions. In areas with dense customer traffic (e.g., airports), robo baristas help to address the problem of lacking workforce and its high turnover.

Arguments against robot coffee makers

Notwithstanding the above benefits of buying a robot barista, it would be too early and, perhaps, short-sighted to state that robo cafes are going to supersede traditional coffee bars completely. There are cafes, including big chains and well-known franchise projects that stick to the old way of doing business. 
For instance, Starbucks with over 20,000 locations around the globe, declares automated workers will not appear at the company’s sites any time soon. Starbucks as well as other businesses geared towards traditional coffee brewing place stake in a peculiar atmosphere, with the barista personality playing a huge role.

Conventionalists emphasize: a coffee served by a smiling someone is a more pleasant beginning of a morning than a joe handed over by a highly intellectual, but emotionless something. Professionals in the trade add that, notwithstanding advances in AI, robots are not as adept at discriminating the subtleties of taste like a human.

Robot baristas for sale around the globe

As food industry automation is gaining momentum, robotic kiosks, drive-thrus, and bots appear worldwide. Renowned manufacturers, such as ABB, KUKA, join the trend and build their own prototypes. New initiatives spring up, offering for sale innovative concepts and off-the-shelf solutions. Among the startups, Briggo, Cafe X, and Rozum Café seem to be the most successful projects in capitalizing on the robo cafe idea.

Robot baristas for sale around the globe

As food industry automation is gaining momentum, robotic kiosks, drive-thrus, and bots appear worldwide. Renowned manufacturers, such as ABB, KUKA, join the trend and build their own prototypes. New initiatives spring up, offering for sale innovative concepts and off-the-shelf solutions. Among the startups, Briggo, Cafe X, and Rozum Café seem to be the most successful projects in capitalizing on the robo cafe idea.

Cafe X

A Californian startup (the USA) created an automated coffee maker based on an industrial robot to deliver flavorsome brews with high-tech precision. The machine is installed inside a plexiglass kiosk together with coffee-making equipment.

Customers interact with the barista placing orders from a tablet or the mobile Cafe X software. The plexiglass case surrounding the robot is transparent, and clients can watch the robot brewing a joe, making milk froth, or pouring syrups into branded paper cups.

A human employee is supposed to attend to the robotic kiosk to refill beans or dairy stock and to do the cleaning. The total turnover is 300 to 400 orders daily. The robot barista serves latte, espresso, matcha latte, cortado, and other beverages, including special offers, such as brews with organic oat milk.


The US company (Austin, Texas) has invested almost 20 million dollars into building a completely self-contained robo cafe functioning with minimal human intervention. Using a special app, customers order a drink remotely and pick it up after a message arrives informing it is ready.

The Briggo menu is as varied as that in a traditional coffeehouse—anything from a classic espresso to chai and hot chocolate. A peculiar feature is a focus on gourmet quality. Personalization options are diverse—strength, water temperature, creamers, and an assortment of flavors. The company offers specialty blends and roasts beans in-house.

First robotic café in Belarus

The first-in-Belarus barista robot was built as part of a partnership project between Rozum Robotics R&D company (Belarus) and the Fransua coffee-and-bakery chain (Ukraine). The first café was sold as white labeled solution under the R/Cafe brand.

The Rozum Café installation is an automated kiosk, its centerpiece is the PULSE arm-manipulator that interacts with an espresso machine and grinder to deliver top-quality javas. Rozum bots are to appear at large shopping malls and airports. One installation is already being tested in Ukraine.

Daily throughput of the robotic coffee maker is over 300 cups. The manipulator’s software contains recipes of espresso, americano, cappuccino, latte, flat white with a choice of flavors.

Buying a beverage from an R/Cafe barista is essentially a one-click operation: a person selects a product on the tablet and, once the order is paid, the magic mechanics begins. The arm switches the grinder to have a fresh portion of beans ground and packed. Then, just like a professional server, it carries the filter holder over to the brewing machine and prepares a basic shot, adds milk or flavors as preselected. The entire process is visible through the glass case surrounding the robot workspace.

Rozum Café

Rozum Café is a robotic coffee point. The only worker here is a barista coffee robot that brews delicious coffee 24/7. It's today's most advanced coffee bar solution.

Robot baristas, alongside automated cashiers, pizzaiolos, and burger flippers, are brewing their way into the food and beverage industry, slowly but steadily. The robo units are superior to humans in terms of working speed and productivity. They can handle higher workloads, and are no less entertaining to watch. Considering the consistent quality and throughput, robot cafes are definitely a technology breakthrough to anticipate.

Nonetheless, inventors of the smart hardware swear by having no intentions to push human employees in the service sector out of jobs. Instead, robotic bar promoters say the inventions open new employment opportunities, creating demand for servicemen and integrator positions.

The focus is on making human lives more enjoyable, with a variety of beverage-making options to choose from.