The Coffee robot

Miso is on a bit of a tear, having followed up its burger robot, Flippy 2, with a tortilla chip making robot in partnership with Chipotle. Automation seems well paired with rising takeout demand during a pandemic-influenced tight labor market. Delivery, takeout, and drive-thru orders in particular have increased the need for speed just as demand is booming, and restaurants are having trouble keeping pace.

The subplot here is the rapid automation of the quick serve restaurant industry, which is reeling from labor shortages and struggling to keep up with high demand coming out of the worst lockdowns of the pandemic. There’s now a real sense that momentum is shifting toward robotic systems to add greater efficiency to human-led, front-of-house operations.

“Panera has a long history of tech innovation in service of meeting the needs of our guests and associates when they walk through our doors each day,” said George Hanson, SVP and Chief Digital Officer of Panera. “CookRight Coffee is a game changer when it comes to convenience and operational efficiency, and we are extremely excited to take our coffee station into the future with Miso Robotics.”

Coffee is one of those habits around which much ritual has cropped up. You go to the cafe, if you’re lucky your barista knows your order and gives you a warm smile, and you savor that first delightful sip. So are we ready for a robot to take charge of our brew?

That’s the bet that Miso Robotics, whose dexterous robot fry cooks are already slinging burgers and chicken wings at fast food restaurants, is making. Miso is launching a new coffee system and the first partner is Panera Bread.

To be sure, technology and coffee are no strangers. From pods to Aeropress, the hunt for a perfect cup has gone on as long as beans have been roasted. Panera is betting the efficiency and quality of a system that continually monitors coffee status using AI and customized metrics will appeal to patrons.

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