Growing up, I was always in awe of The Jetsons. I didn't find their sky-high housing troubling, nor did the fact that all of their food came in bean form bother me. What I did have trouble with is that robots replaced servers and housekeepers and really anyone who wasn't in George Jetson’s immediate family. "What a horrifying reality!" I would think, and this thought recurred years later when I worked as a barista in college.
I’m happy that I’ve found a different line of work, since Briggo, a robotic coffee kiosk, now exists. Briggo isn’t your coffee vending machine of old, through which a cup of what is basically warm flavored water cost 25 cents. Rather, the Austin-based Briggo claims its coffee is on the same level as a high-end coffee shop’s brew.
The machine is the size of a telephone booth, and can be installed anywhere. The University of Texas at Austin has one in its common room, and soon there will be Briggo machines in various locations across the country, though the company is keeping the exact locations under wraps.
Its walls are stainless steel, and its interior is a mess of sensors that measure everything like how hot the steamed milk is, what the grind to water ratio is, how measured a cappuccino is, and so on. Given how much of science a good cup of coffee takes, it’s conceivable that the machine could easily outperform a human barista (much as it pains a former barista to type that sentence).
Briggo uses brew chambers (those little pods of coffee grinds) to brew each cup individually. This leads to a better cup, since the coffee never has time to grow stagnant. But you still get to choose how you want it. It makes everything from lattes to iced coffees, from chai lattes to hot chocolate. It’s full of flavored syrups, so you can create your own recipe, and it can save those recipes, so if you find something you like, you can get that exact cup every time.
And forget lines. You can order this coffee from your phone. Let’s say you’re sitting in class, ten minutes before you’re let out. Order a coffee, and it’ll be waiting for you. It doesn't even cost more.
"What we’ve created is in essence a small food factory that absolutely replicates what a champion barista does," says CEO Kevin Nater. "What we find at [the University of Texas] is that we have a younger generation of consumers who have no inhibition about ordering remotely and having self service," says Nater. "Coffee shops are a great social interaction point, but so is social media."
Maybe we’re not yet in the Jetsons, but baristas of the world are probably quivering with fear anyhow.