Barista

Robot barista serves coffee at Tokyo cafe

(2 Feb 2018) LEADIN:
A new robot cafe opened in Tokyo this week.
Visitors to ‘Hen na cafe’ are greeted and served by a robotic barista.
STORYLINE:
Service with a smile.
This robotic arm, named ‘Sawyer,’ is using smooth movements to brew and serve an aromatic cup of coffee at this cafe in Tokyo.
The robot was developed by U.S. robotics company Rethink Robotics.
Japanese company, H.I.S. – which specialises in tourism – opened ‘Hen na cafe’ or ‘Strange Cafe’ on Thursday (1 February) at their branch in downtown Tokyo.
The robotic arm, painted red and mounted with a tablet computer, shows a smiling face.
First it picks up a cup, placed on a holder by customers. It then turns around to ground the beans and brew a fresh cup of coffee.
The robotic arm then places the ground coffee into a filter. It puts the filter on a rack, so hot water can be poured through and into the cup below.
And there it is – a robot-made cup of coffee.
H.I.S. says this fully automated system was installed to reduce the number of human workers needed to run the cafe.
“The key is to increase productivity,” says Masataka Tamaki from H.I.S.
“You need about three to four workers to run a conventional café. But at this cafe, because the robot makes coffee, you only need one human worker.
“This way, we can cut the cost so that we can offer high-quality coffee at a reasonable cost.”
The company says less staff means lower running costs, meaning the coffee will be cheaper for customers.
A normal filter coffee costs 320 Japanese yen at the cafe (approx. $3 USD).
At this price, it’s cheaper than traditional, human-operated cafes in Tokyo, where one cup of coffee could fetch as much as $8-10 USD.
“To be frank, the taste is not much different (from the coffee made by a person). But, for the price, the portion of the coffee is bigger,” says 68-year-old customer Takeshi Yamamoto.
“The quality of machine-made coffee, such as the ones we can buy from convenience stores, is getting really good. But, this one is also fun, as an experience.”

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