AI-Generated Robots Are Now Coming For Baristas

Between the labor shortage and the accelerated advances in technology, it should come as little surprise that robots are popping up in the food industry, from fine dining to the likes of the McDonald's drive-thru. However, did any of us expect to see an entire coffee shop run nearly entirely by robots in 2023? Probably not, but here we are.

By the end of May, Brooklyn will have its first robot-run coffee shop, aptly named Botbar. The shop's main employee, a two-armed robot named Adam, will be able to receive customer orders placed through a touch-screen, accurately fulfill them, and perform more quickly than its human counterparts.

What's more, because Adam is in some ways above human error, you don't have to worry about this particular barista spelling your name wrong, making your drink differently each time you visit, or taking a day off. That being said, you still might have to worry about short-circuiting robots taking your McDonald's order.

Should food industry workers be worried about their new robot coworkers?

Although robot laborers like Botbar's Adam can dance and allegedly fulfill as many as 50 drink orders per hour, food industry-AI as a whole could use some more work. Sure, robots can work endlessly and don't require pay, meaning restaurants can rack up revenue, but even robots have their downsides.

Cafe X, for instance, has been using a robot arm to serve coffee for several years now, and while the business has been successful for the most part, not everyone is satisfied. The cafe's Yelp reviews admit the robot is fun to watch, but several people have also pointed out that if the robot runs out of ingredients — as it is bound to do — customers have no way of reporting the issue. Unfortunately, this has led to some customers receiving only a cup of ice or milk, rather than the perfect iced coffee.

To some degree, we will always need a few humans working at the coffee shop, even if it's just to make sure the robots stay in line. For now, though, most baristas probably don't need to worry about being replaced.