A robot barista?

3 Questions to Aleks Afanasyev, Product Specialist at CafeX

Netopia tried a robot-made espresso at CafeX in San Francisco’s Metreon center. With the recent debates about robot tax and jobs lost to automation, Netopia found a real world specimen. The robot would not answer questions, but product specialist Aleks Afanasyev did.

Per Strömbäck: Did a robot take your job?

Aleks Afanasyev: No, it gave me a job.

PS: Will robots put baristas out of work?

AA: We’ve only had positive feedback from baristas who tried our coffee. We see ourselves as an extension of the coffee roaster. The robot can make coffee with machine precision, grind the beans perfect every time, have the exact right water temperature, the exact right milk temperature etc. Your coffee is perfect every time.

PS: Will you put traditional cafés out of business?

AA: The café is a different experience, you can sit down, go on a date, do some work. Ours is an option to get your coffee without standing in line and save time. Those are two different things.

The robot café is a machine arm moving cups from two coffee machines similar to what can be found in better offices. You order from surfpads or an app and the robot sends a text message with an access code when the coffee is ready. Of course, coffee vending machines have been around for ages, so one must ask how those are not robots – policymakers who want to tax robots have some difficult lines draw.

Now, if we could only get the robots to drink the stuff…


(Photo: Per Strömbäck)