Coffee is embedded in many individuals’ daily morning routine, whether they are buying a cup of coffee on the way to work or brewing their own at home or at work. For many individuals, a cup of coffee is necessary to jump-start their day.
With the rise of fast-food businesses that already have automation technology in place to help with kitchen operations, the Panera bread restaurant chain is leading the coffee technology innovation by piloting the new artificial intelligence-based coffee monitoring system, CookRight Coffee system, relying on high tech machines to provide their customers with the perfect fresh and hot cup of coffee.
Automation technology has captured the interest of the leaders in the food and beverage industry. For example, Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. (NYSE: CMG) with artificial intelligence kitchen assistant to handle baking tortilla chips, and McDonald’s Corporation (NYSE: MCD) with automated drive-thru orders. Automation technology enhances operational efficiency, reduces human errors and operational costs and provides convenience to both employees and customers.
The CookRight Coffee system was designed by Miso Robotic to achieve the ultimate goal of flexibility, quality and efficiency. The CookRight Coffee system gathers specific coffee-related data such as volume, temperature, and time to apply predictive analytics. It monitors coffee brewing and notifies the exact time to brew a new batch, therefore, eliminating the exhausting manual coffee urn checks required by the barista.
On the contrary, many individuals still prefer the hand-made coffee and the café experience provided by a skilled Barista over the automated coffee machine and system. A skilled barista does much more than take orders and press buttons on coffee grinders and high-performance espresso machines. Skilled Baristas make the café experience better by taking charge of maintenance of the machines/equipment, pouring customized latte art, and creating coffee recipes. Furthermore, Baristas understand coffee and provide excellent customer service by making suitable recommendations and personalizing the customers’ specific needs to ensure every customer gets their perfect cup of coffee.
Although there’s a growing concern of AI eventually automating nearly everything and replacing humans, however, the AI solution developers fully understand that AI solutions cannot replace the ‘human factor’ to recreate the experiences the customers perceive through social interactions. Having said that, AI solution developers emphasized that AI solutions are most effective when AI solutions are used conjointly with humans.
The global coffee industry is valued at approximately $100 billion in 2020, with an estimated compound annual growth rate of 4.28% during the forecast period of 2022-2027. The coffee industry is growing as coffee has become a staple product in the daily lives of many individuals. Also, coffee has evolved into a social drink, somewhat like alcohol; individuals can socially gather at café locations that offer a soothing and comfortable ambience to hang out with friends, catch up on work, and study. The global coffee market is a cutthroat industry with giant players leading the charge. Major coffee giants are always looking to update their operational efficiency and possibly migrate over to automation technology as labour gaps and labour costs increase.
For example, Starbucks Corporation (NASDAQ: SBUX) partnered with Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) to pilot their automated checkout technology with pop-up cashier-less stores. Just as AI solution developers understand AI solutions cannot replace the ‘human factor’, coffee industry giants like Starbucks Corporation (NASDAQ: SBUX) are fully aware AI solutions cannot replicate the customer experience created by Starbucks baristas through the social interactions.
Simply put, AI solutions just cannot misspell customers’ names on cups to end up as a meme on the internet. Coffee giants will continue to look for high-tech AI solutions to help improve operational efficiency without forfeiting the ‘human factor’ that ultimately influences the customer experience.