“The overall development of artificial intelligence (AI) could mark the end of the human race,” said the late Prof Stephen Hawking, one of the world’s most famous scientists. With the rapid development of the last decade, AI has successfully performed many tasks performed by humans and eradicated millions of jobs.
The coffee industry will also experience many changes with the development of “robot baristas” spearheaded by various startups . In this article, we will not discuss the negative impact of automation on work, but rather look at the new opportunities that this technology brings.
Some well-known names in the robot barista field include Briggo and Café X from the US and Ratio from China. Each has built its own technology. But briefly, the innovation starts from the robotic machine section in setting up a coffee bar, namely by choosing various coffee brewing techniques that have been used in general.
The user experience starts with downloading the app that integrates with the machine, when customers can order their own specialty drinks. Then, the robotic arm will spring into action, promising accurate coffee brewing results in minutes. The technology is made possible by a combination of robotics, computerized vision, and various other artificial intelligences embedded in it.
The application of robots and artificial intelligence in the coffee industry itself is actually not an artificial luxury. Coffee drinkers demand consistency in their cup of coffee, a factor that makes instant coffee superior. Something even a champion barista sometimes fails to deliver. You will be amazed to know how complicated it is to brew coffee, especially with the third wave which has raised the standard of coffee to new heights. This third wave occurred starting in the 1990s where in this third wave era, coffee drinkers became interested in the coffee itself, such as where the coffee comes from, how the coffee is grown, harvested, who sells it, who roasts it. and how the coffee is brewed.
Different coffee beans require different brewing techniques. Losing just 1 to 2 degrees of water temperature or adding 5 ml of too much water can make a significant difference to the final cup of coffee. Changing external factors such as the weather, the physical and emotional condition of the barista, and many other things can also change the taste of coffee. This is where robot baristas come in handy as they can adapt brewing techniques under various circumstances and brew a reliable cup of coffee with precision.
There are many examples of the impact of Artificial Intelligence on the food and beverage industry which also applies to the coffee shop business. In addition to basic sales predictions and logistics planning, AI can help us analyze consumer product preferences and suggest curating new menus. AI can also see changes in consumer behavior during certain periods of the year, such as an increase in demand for ice products during the summer, and alert coffee players to adjust their menu choices in advance.
By equipping the robot barista with computer vision , the engineers are trying to make the robot work the way they want it to, such as being able to accurately remember a customer’s face and all the necessary adjustments in your favorite cup of coffee. In higher-level applications, these robot baristas can even detect the emotional state of their customers to speak in a more effective way, even better than most normal humans.
The rate of “adoption” of this barista robot is said to be still very slow due to several existing obstacles, one of which is the high investment cost. Each set of robot barista kiosks, with robotic arms and integrated espresso machines is worth more than US$100,000 (Rp 1.5 billion) before maintenance costs.
The main reason why these businesses are considering the use of machine automation is to save them from the high cost of salaries and the hassle of managing a human workforce. For most developed countries where the minimum monthly wage is already in the thousands of US dollars per person, investing in a robot barista still makes sense because it can achieve a Payback Period of less than 2 years from cost savings alone. However, for a developing country like Indonesia where the workforce is still very cheap, which is less than US$ 300 per person per month, the investment in robot barista is still too expensive.
But high production costs are only a temporary setback. The world is just waiting for greater demand to be implemented and factories in China will easily find ways to drastically reduce costs to make the technology match the market demand. We have seen how technology has more advanced features but is still becoming cheaper in smartphones , televisions, computers and many other electronic devices.
Another concern is that the coffee made by the robot barista is not as ‘warm’ as the barista pours into the cup. Seen from one angle, it is true for many people that coffee is a medium for socializing. But in a changing world where everyday life is getting busier, convenience and speed of service are becoming very important, especially for people who will be drinking coffee on the go on the go.
World-renowned brands such as Starbucks have realized this change in behavior and are putting more emphasis on the grab-and-go concept . Not in the concept of a robot barista, but by setting up more drive-through take away only outlets . Through our smart automatic coffee machines in Greater Jakarta, Bandung and Surabaya; we at JumpStart have seen this behavior change begin to occur in Indonesia as well.
At JumpStart Coffee we have also implemented Artificial Intelligence since last year. We’ve experienced how AI makes our lives so much easier. AI helps us predict sales fluctuations of each coffee machine during the pandemic era and automatically manages all our logistics operations according to the minimum possible manual disturbance. Through technology, we have also managed to calculate the extraction time of each cup of coffee to ensure it remains within the standard of quality. Or if the extraction is not working properly, our server will immediately pause the operation of the machine and notify our team to visit for recalibration. All of this happens in automatic seconds, a speed that is impossible for humans to imitate.
When people talk about the forth-wave or the 4th wave coffee, they talk more about the application of life sustainability or sustainability , not about AI or robot barista. But AI has become an integral part of life in the 21st century, which has proven to open more doors of opportunities in the future. Whether you oppose the concept or not, innovation will continue. In the end, this will have an impact on the very core of the coffee industry itself. Faster than we thought.