A few companies are launching fancy robotic coffee kiosks intended to take on Starbucks and high-end coffee shops, from Quartz An army of robot baristas could mean the end of Starbucks as we know it
It appears the main selling point is speed, consistency, reliability and the perfect cup of coffee. I think they are missing the point on why Starbucks and coffee shops succeed and what value they provide, it’s not about the coffee but the social experience.
People meet at coffee shops to talk, gossip, catch up and socialize with each other. Starbucks own mission statement is more about people and neighborhoods then the coffee. Sure people get coffee there, but that’s the excuse not the reason.
I don’t doubt the robotic kiosk will be able to turn out coffee just as good as a barista, but the barista with all their inconsistencies offers a human connection that a machine doesn’t. A person remembering your name is a lot more special than a computer remembering. Also, there’s a reason people who can work from anywhere, get out of the house and go to coffee shops to work.
A question asked in the article, We used to go to banks, and now we get cash from ATMs. Will coffee be the same? My bet is no, coffee won’t be the same. I doubt many people went banks to socialize, hang out, on a first date or other various reasons people enjoy coffee shops.
I might be wrong, but my bet here would be on the personal and social interactions of coffee shops beating out the robots.