Briggo is taking the human barista out of the coffee-buying experience.
The Austin-based startup has built a fully automated robotic “Coffee Haus” capable of filling 100 gourmet coffee orders in one hour. For perspective, that’s about the same output as four human baristas.
The machine is already in use in seven Texas locations, with an eighth headed to the San Francisco International Airport this spring — and the expansion could be yet another sign that automation is poised to dramatically disrupt the service industry.
Coffee vending machines have been around since the 1940s, but Briggo is far more advanced than its predecessors.
For one, customers can place their Briggo coffee orders in advance via an app, which texts them when their drink is ready.
The robot barista also provides customers with the opportunity to personalize their drinks by adding various creamers and flavored syrups, and even specifying their desired temperature and coffee strength. The app even saves your favorite custom orders.
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Despite Briggo’s claims that its robot barista can fill three to four times as many orders as its human counterpart, CEO Kevin Nater told The Washington Post the company isn’t trying to put people out of work.
“We don’t think we’re replacing people,” he said. “We are creating a high tech retail and marketing business and developing jobs in the process. We just hired two people in the Bay Area, where we are opening a new location in the spring.”
Meanwhile, at least one barista, Maryland’s Oliver Geib, is “absolutely not” worried about losing his job to a robot.
“A lot of customers really appreciate watching a barista carefully pouring water or steaming the milk or adding a little flourish to their drink,” he told WaPo. “The social aspect, the atmosphere and the interaction with the barista, is a big part of the experience of drinking coffee.”
Still, it’s hard to imagine the number of employees Briggo hires could keep up with the number that might lose their jobs if the company’s robot barista takes off — and given the way the service industry is embracing automation, it very well might.
READ MORE: Baristas beware: A robot that makes gourmet cups of coffee has arrived. [The Washington Post]
More on automation: Robots Are Coming for Service Jobs