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Thread: Barista's job the next to go on the chopping block?

  1. #1
    Super Moderator Javaphile's Avatar
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    Barista's job the next to go on the chopping block?

    The new Bot on the block: Robotic barista serves up coffee - BBC News


    Java "Super, super-automatic!" phile
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    Toys! I must have new toys!!!

  2. #2
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Not in the least surprised, it's a simple process ideally suited to automation.

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  4. #4
    Super Moderator Javaphile's Avatar
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    You do realize that's a person dressed up to look like a robot right?


    Java "No super-auto for me" phile
    Toys! I must have new toys!!!

  5. #5
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    This one's the real deal https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sgwD3UQXTRE

    Early days, form will come.

  6. #6
    Super Moderator Javaphile's Avatar
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    That one's cuppa may be worth trying.


    Java "Bot what?" phile
    Toys! I must have new toys!!!

  7. #7
    Senior Member matth3wh's Avatar
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    May improve efficiency but certainly not necessarily improving customer interaction.

    Our new model just released! It's the HAL-CE9000 (Tm) - Highly Attitudinal Lactating Coffee Excreta 9000

    Thank you Dave. I know what you would like today Dave. It's a crappacino kind of day. I'm watching your Facebook posts Dave!
    Would like extra arsenic today Dave?


    Last edited by matth3wh; 28th March 2017 at 03:21 PM.

  8. #8
    Senior Member matth3wh's Avatar
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    https://youtu.be/2PRsAGIAnPg

    It's good to see that even though the Barista has been put out of a job the roaster still has one for the moment Dave!

    Oh, and a human cleaner comes by to clean things and make sure all is working fine. :-)

    --

    Now in saying all that (in a cafe scenario) I highly support the installation of things like Ubermilk and the use of Puqpress/Vulcano Swift style (auto-tamp) grinders. You're a hypocrite Dave!

    The robots are coming for youse ppl! Edumacate yourselfs!

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yelta View Post
    This one's the real deal https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sgwD3UQXTRE

    Early days, form will come.
    Wait that's a robot? I thought it was another "My coffee routine" video on youtube taking 5min for 1 coffee.
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  10. #10
    Senior Member level3ninja's Avatar
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    "We wanted to make a robot that could give you good speciality coffee every day"

    Ok, good goal.

    "Tastes just like starbucks"

    Oh.
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    "It's hot and ready to go", said one of the customers.

    If those are the aims of this venture, it really seems to have nailed it.
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  12. #12
    Senior Member trentski's Avatar
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    They can do the science fine. But. Not the art of coffee making, i prefer my food prepared with love.
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  13. #13
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by trentski View Post
    They can do the science fine. But. Not the art of coffee making, i prefer my food prepared with love.
    Art! bit of a stretch there Trentski, coffee making is at best a skill that most of us with average ability can master.

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    There are many "press button". (Automatic) Espresso machines available that will make a coffee of your choice.
    But they just prove that the real secret to good coffee is in the hands of the Barista
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    the secret to good coffee is consistency (dosing, tamping etc), which machines can always do a lot better.

  16. #16
    Senior Member matth3wh's Avatar
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    Good to excellent quality coffee also helps

    Along with clean water and clean equipment that it's made through.
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  17. #17
    Senior Member Barry O'Speedwagon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sacsnob View Post
    the secret to good coffee is consistency (dosing, tamping etc), which machines can always do a lot better.

    Then why does the coffee produced by the majority of automatic machines taste pretty ordinary?

    The key to consistent coffee is consistency, but for that to be consistently good coffee it has to applied to the right raw materials, and the target level of that consistency (applied to dose/grind) has to be determined by someone who knows what they are doing.
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  18. #18
    Senior Member level3ninja's Avatar
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    Until a machine can analyse results and adjust dose/grind/tamp accordingly I can't see a robot beating a barista. That being said the latest round of machines like the San Remo Opera etc with all the weighing built in, and things like the DE1 make me think we're not that far off. Maybe only a few years away.
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  19. #19
    Senior Member ArtW's Avatar
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    I can't see a person-like robot that uses standard machines being the future of coffee making - though it is damn cool. Super-auto's have to be the future but they need to get much, much better.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yelta View Post
    Art! bit of a stretch there Trentski, coffee making is at best a skill that most of us with average ability can master.
    I'm with Trentski on this one......a bit of love and attention is needed, even the people that master the skill can fail to take due care and screw up the process.
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  21. #21
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    A warm blooded barista can judge the flow of coffee coming out of the machine and adjust the grinder to get the desired flow. I am not aware that any super auto's can do that yet. Could the cold blooded machine use scales under the cup to judge the flow rate and make the adjustments?. I don’t think that any machines can taste the coffee yet to see if it is ok.
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  22. #22
    Senior Member ArtW's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Smee View Post
    I'm with Trentski on this one......a bit of love and attention is needed, even the people that master the skill can fail to take due care and screw up the process.
    Yes but a machine that is developed with the skills and techniques should never fail to take due care and screw up the process. I don't think the science is yet mature enough and therefore the barista's love and attention is required but at the end of the day it's a mechanical process and once the science behind the process is well enough understand, if there is sufficient financial incentive for investment, then I have no doubt we will get to a stage where a blind taste test will not be able to differentiate between an automatic and a skilled barista. And that will be a sad day for me.
    Last edited by ArtW; 29th March 2017 at 02:50 PM. Reason: missing apostrophe
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  23. #23
    Senior Member magnafunk's Avatar
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    As long as the robot can be made to roll it's eyes if I ask for sugar I'll be happy
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  24. #24
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    Just a stab in the dark, but:
    $10k for the automatic machines making the coffee and milk;
    $119k for the robot arm to move a paper cup around...
    May as well just have a conveyer belt under the spouts, drop a cup at the beginning, cup rolls under coffee spout, then under milk spout, then do window for customer to pickup.

    Anyone else see that logic?
    Last edited by gmeddy; 29th March 2017 at 07:55 PM. Reason: Grammar and other technical details

  25. #25
    LOL
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    if i was a customer, i could not be more turned off a 'sale' to buy a cup of coffee, from a cafe that had mechanised and conveyor belts. customers want the barista experience. cafe owners want a lower overheads... deal with it, the customer is king, as we all know, they buy with their money and walk on past with their feet. anyone that thinks the barista's role is unimportant or can be marginalised, is in the wrong business - this is the hospitality industry, it is made possible by real people, for real people.
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  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Barry_Duncan View Post
    A warm blooded barista can judge the flow of coffee coming out of the machine and adjust the grinder to get the desired flow. I am not aware that any super auto's can do that yet. Could the cold blooded machine use scales under the cup to judge the flow rate and make the adjustments?. I don’t think that any machines can taste the coffee yet to see if it is ok.

    I think it is entirely possible. Coffee as I see is scientific and down to measurements, you can weigh the beans and have the grind adjustment from that based on the extraction time the data can be fed back to then make adjustments to the grind. Couldn't refractometers be used to measure the quality of the shot as well?

    There may not be a super auto on the market now that does and it may be due to costs, but if it was commercialised I don't see how it wouldn't be possible.

    In saying that, the video in the original post clearly shows a different market that it's targeting and not for coffee snobs.

  27. #27
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    This thread reminds me of an old Clifford Simak novel - the Werewolf principle. Like most Simak's, the guy is brilliant at describing the effects of out of control technology.

    I "googled it", and found this link to the chapter involved. The fun starts about half a page down.

    22 - The Werewolf Principle

    ... and no, even if the masses think that automating this stuff is a good idea, Simak and I don't.

    TampIt

  28. #28
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    A solution looking for a problem?

    I have no doubt a machine could be made to produce good coffee without human intervention, but using a humanoid robot seems more a showcase of robotics than of coffee making tech...
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  29. #29
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    The personalities behind the machine absolutely add to the experience of going to a cafe, my office has a high end auto machine but I still go across the road to Bellacino's Cafe (Forrest, ACT) The cheeky comments I get from the blokes at when the Raiders get belted is brutal but when the Raiders win, boy do I look forward to that monday morning.
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  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Barry O'Speedwagon View Post
    Then why does the coffee produced by the majority of automatic machines taste pretty ordinary?

    The key to consistent coffee is consistency, but for that to be consistently good coffee it has to applied to the right raw materials, and the target level of that consistency (applied to dose/grind) has to be determined by someone who knows what they are doing.

    G'day BOS

    "and the target level of that consistency ... has to be determined by someone who knows what they are doing"

    Too right - Starbucks seems to be consistent - based on a single sample at Redmond WA (yep, that one) and Denver CO stores in the US and the first one in Sydney - they tasted almost identical. However it is over roasted (i.e. burnt to death), crap (?roasted too dark to really tell) coffee, with the ensuing acrid bitterness expected to be muted by gallons of sugar - except I don't take sugar...

    The secret to good / great / brilliant coffee is to get the best out of whatever gear is in front of you by knowing exactly what to aim for and how best to get there.

    Green beans vary greatly in flavour, hardness / brittleness, water content, solubility etc.
    Ignoring evenness and other "minor" roasting issues like proper temperature control (hats off to Andy), the end product of roasts also vary greatly in performance - darker is more soluble and comes onstream / goes offstream much more quickly compared to medium / light roasts.
    The age of the roast affects a lot more than the crema - amongst other things the aging also affects the brittleness (which affects the texture when you grind it), flavour & solubility in a big way.
    All that has happened before you even get to the main CS areas of grind / dose / tamp.
    Grinders (IMO the biggest "unspoken" variable in the general public) can make / break any roast without having any regard to the overall texture (yet...) - even one with perfect burrs.
    Then you try to get from the grinder to the machine - time sensitive as the grinds start to oxidise immediately. The demise of the doser is one of a home CSrs greatest hidden assets.
    Then the machines vary widely from pretty gutless (some domestic ones and a W brand springs to mind) to immensely powerful (i.e. the Linea). Add water flow, temperature and pressure issues to the machine side of things. Add the evenness of the distribution of the water into the puck... the machine list just goes on and on.
    Baskets also vary widely in terms of even size and spacing of holes and the rate of water flow.
    Then (hopefully) the barista can time the shot without overextracting it to water...

    All those things have also ignored a few other dealbreakers like maintenance / cleanliness in all the gear.

    I am a tech guy, and I suspect that consistency is relatively easy, it is knowing what to aim for and how to tinker to get there that is far more difficult.

    Hopefully there is a world of difference between the cuppa you are making at home and what Starbucks / Peabody et. al. (do not want to name and shame some local miscreant chains - they know who they are) do over the counter.


    TampIt

  31. #31
    Senior Member level3ninja's Avatar
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    Behmor Brazen - $249 - Free Freight
    Quote Originally Posted by TampIt View Post
    Starbucks seems to be consistent - based on a single sample at Redmond WA (yep, that one) and Denver CO stores in the US and the first one in Sydney - they tasted almost identical. However it is over roasted (i.e. burnt to death), crap (?roasted too dark to really tell) coffee, with the ensuing acrid bitterness expected to be muted by gallons of sugar - except I don't take sugar
    I read a survey closer to 10 years ago now that was done of all chain coffee stores (GJs, Macca's, Starbucks, Michel's, etc) and in the category of consistency Starbucks eon hands down. They would adjust the grind more regularly than anyone else and account for humidity etc whereas I don't think anyone else did as much, and definitely not consistently across stores. Starbucks also came dead last in almost every other category. It was hilarious to read the surveyor's disbelief that someone would work so hard to be so consistently bad.
    As a saying I read goes "Consistency is only a good thing if you're not a screw-up." I think Michel's Patisserie won overall.

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