Baristas beware, Bbox cafe uses robots to brew your morning coffee

bbox robot cafe bev holding latte pc adriel olmos
PC Adriel Olmos

From robot bartenders to robot chefs to robot waiters, it’s no secret that the food industry is going through something of an automation boom right now. The latest example of this is Bbox, a new coffee shop in downtown Berkeley, California that describes itself as the city’s first robot cafe.

Located in the University of Berkeley School of Public Health, Bbox uses robots and a mobile app to automate much of the coffee-ordering process. Just like ordering an Uber, customers input their coffee and pastry request using a smartphone or tablet, and then get told how long it will take for their order to be ready. At present, the cafe has some human staff on hand to guide customers through the ordering process. Eventually, however, it’s feasible that the whole process could be roboticized.

“Bev, the Bbox beverages robot, starts every morning by grinding fresh beans and brewing hot coffee locally sourced from [our partner] Highwire Coffee,” Greg Becker, founder of Nourish, the company behind Bbox, told Digital Trends. “Throughout service, Bev makes fresh coffee and fulfills customer orders for almond milk lattes, iced Americanos, orange juice, and other cafe beverages. Meanwhile, [another robot called] Jarvis runs the pastry line and delivery system, serving up fresh, locally sourced pastries from [bakery partner] Semifreddi’s and preparing customer orders for pickup.”

bbox robot cafe customer glass pc adriel olmos
PC Adriel Olmos

Few cafe owners describe their food and drink as too expensive, but in the case of Bbox, it genuinely delivers good value. By lowering its overhead, Bbox can pass these savings onto customers. For instance, a regular cup of coffee from Highwire costs up to $4. At Bbox, it’s just $1.75. While you can nitpick the concept by pointing out, correctly, that not having to pay humans does allow for prices to be dropped, it also benefits local businesses. That’s because lowering these costs makes it more cost effective to source local ingredients, which might otherwise prove too cost prohibitive.

“While still in beta, our customer response at Bbox has been fantastic,” Becker said. “It’s rewarding to see the excitement, and we’ve already generated loyalty among regulars. Over the next few months, we plan to roll out additional menu items and robotic capabilities, and then start scaling Bbox across the globe. With backing from [former Major League Baseball] All-Star Ryan Howard and his venture capital firm SeventySix Capital, our vision at Bbox is to own and operate a portfolio of the world’s largest restaurant chains, all run entirely by robots.”

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Write music with your voice, make homemade cheese

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!

The Apple iPad Air is the power-packed tablet for everyone

The iPad Air is the less serious cousin to Apple's iPad Pro range, and it's the perfect addition to your coffee table. But it's no less powerful. Here's everything you need to know about the iPad Air.
Emerging Tech

Robot assistants from Toyota and Panasonic gear up for the Tokyo Olympics

Japan plans to use the 2020 Olympics to showcase a range of its advanced technologies. Toyota and Panasonic are already getting in on the act, recently unveiling several robotic designs that they intend to deploy at the event.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix right now (March 2019)

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Emerging Tech

Opportunity’s final image is a haunting panorama of the Martian surface

The Opportunity mission to Mars may be no more, but the rover's legacy lives on. Now NASA has released the final image captured by Opportunity, and it's a stunning panorama of the Martian surface.
Emerging Tech

A lunar time capsule: 50-year-old moon rock samples to be opened for study

Nearly 50 years after the Apollo missions to the Moon, NASA is breaking open samples of Moon rock for the first time. Samples collected from Apollo missions 15, 16, and 17 have been preserved and never before exposed to Earth's atmosphere.
Emerging Tech

Gorgeous image of the Cosmic Bat nebula leaves us starry-eyed

The "Cosmic Bat" nebula has been captured in beautiful detail by the European Southern Observatory. Formally known as NGC 1788, the nebula is two thousand light-years away in a dark corner of the Orion constellation.
Emerging Tech

Super telescope captures supermassive black holes forming billions of years ago

The Subaru Telescope in Hawaii has captured evidence of supermassive black holes forming in the ancient universe. Astronomers discovered 83 quasars powered by supermassive black holes from billions of years ago.
Emerging Tech

Mind-bending model shows Venus isn’t our nearest neighbor — it’s Mercury

Every textbook and table on the internet agrees -- the closest planet to Earth is Venus. But a new mathematical model shows that this is wrong. In fact, the planet closest to us on average is Mercury.
Emerging Tech

Desk lamps take on a new task by converting their light to power

What if we could charge devices using light from indoor sources like desk lamps? A group of scientists working on a technology called organic photovoltaics (OPVs) aim to do just that.
Emerging Tech

Body surrogate robot helps people with motor impairments care for themselves

A team from Georgia Tech has come up with an assistant robot to help people who have severe motor impairments to perform tasks like shaving, brushing their hair, or drinking water.
Emerging Tech

New Hubble image displays dazzling Messier 28 globular cluster

Messier 28 is a group of stars in the constellation of Sagittarius, located 18,000 light-years from our planet. Thousands of stars are packed tightly together in this sparkling image.
Emerging Tech

Cosmic dust bunnies: Scientists find unexpected ring around Mercury

A pair of scientists searching for a dust-free region near the Sun have made an unexpected discovery: a vast cosmic dust ring millions of miles wide around the tiny planet Mercury.
Emerging Tech

Take a dip in the Lagoon Nebula in first image from SPECULOOS instrument

The European Southern Observatory has released the first image collected by their new SPECULOOS instrument, and it's a stunning portrait of the Lagoon Nebula, a swirling cloud of dust and gas where new stars are born.