Panera May Soon Have An Automated System Make Your Coffee

Today, Miso Robotics announced its latest foray into the fast food and fast casual dining industries. Panera Bread will pilot their coffee monitoring system CookRight Coffee.

Miso Robotics explained in a press release that CookRight Coffee will track the time, the temperature, and the volume of coffee urns in order to alert Panera Bread's workers that a refill is needed. The idea is that this will save time by eliminating the need to manually check whether more coffee is needed. Moreover, it will ensure that the quality of the coffee offered remains high.

CNBC learned from George Hanson, Panera's chief digital officer, that CookRight Coffee has thus far only been implemented in two Panera Bread locations. The coming weeks will decide whether the company will install the system in more restaurants. However, he did admit that the idea was interesting and said, "We never saw this as cost savings or a defense against the labor market at all." Presumably, the rubric against which Miso Robotic's latest product succeeds will be whether the time saved is beneficial in those locations. 

Miso Robotics has a large industry footprint

If you follow industry news, Miso Robotics may be a familiar name. The company is responsible for a robot called Wingy at Buffalo Wild Wings and has teamed up with White Castle and Chipotle, as proudly displayed on the Miso Robotics website.

In March, Miso Robotics and Chipotle began a trial period for Chippy, Miso Robotics' tortilla chip-making robot. "The restaurant industry had a labor gap before the pandemic," the CEO of Miso Robotics Michael Bell told Fox. "The pandemic just accelerated this big gap between the number of jobs and the available labor." Of course, some like Obama's Labor Secretary Robert Reich did in a piece for Common Dreams would argue that there isn't a labor gap, but a gap between what workers need to be paid and what employers want to pay.

Curt Garner, the Chipotle CTO, took a different tone when communicating with VentureBeat, stressing that "the process [of making tortilla chips] is a monotonous, labor-intensive task that doesn't excite the crew as much as other functions."  Still, with staff shortages and a push toward higher wages, some companies may see Miso Robotics as a way to automate certain tasks in restaurants.