Economic News

Will baristas be replaced by robot baristas?

TSS Admin

We’ve been monitoring how the marketplace has been responding to economic policies like the minimum wage. We’ve seen restaurants in San Diego respond to minimum wage increases with 3 percent surcharges.

Rather than layoff workers or cut benefits, restaurant owners in San Diego settled for the surcharge. But not all business owners are taking this route.

We’ve also been monitoring the marketplace for new innovative technologies that might change the labor force in some dramatic ways. For example, Café X, which has just opened in San Francisco, is now using a fully automated barista system. Here’s the link to KRON 4’s report:

This ingenious invention by Henry Hu gives new meaning to barista. Instead of ordering a cafe drink of choice from a living, breating, tax paying, human being, this new automated system cuts out the service worker, i.e., “the middle man,” and directly links the customer with the technology.

It’s a rather fascinating prospect for business owners. Instead of paying labor costs, worker’s compensation, and other labor expenses, it now appears as though coffee shops can go fully automated if they want to. But will they? And will this technology catch on?

In many cases, businesses will probably use it. But over the course of the next few years, it will more than likely diversify the marketplace. This is because there are a lot of consumers who will continue to prefer the human touch.

How are those automated checkout lines at Target and Walmart working for you?

Either way, it will be interesting to see how the market plays out with this new technology. Will businesses follow Café X’s new business model? Will businesses keep the classical model and continue to cover labor costs? Or will businesses diversify in their use of this new technology and provide an environment where both the barista and automated barista work side by side?

In the end, and as the reader knows, these answers will be determined by supply and demand in the marketplace.

What do you think?


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Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons





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