Robot-Staffed Coffee Shop Opens in San Francisco

What the barista at Cafe X lacks in human warmth it makes up for in efficiency. Customers input orders into a digital kiosk and receive their coffee by way of a robotic arm.

After opening their first store in the Hong Kong Science Park, Cafe X recently launched a second location at the AMC Metreon in San Francisco, TechCrunch reports. Though the setup may look intimidating, purchasing a drink is simple. Patrons with the Cafe X app can skip the kiosk and place an order directly from their phones. When the coffee is automatically brewed to perfection, customers punch their order numbers into a touch screen and the Mitsubishi industrial robot arm delivers the drinks seconds later.

It’s easy to imagine similar robots replacing human employees in coffee shops around the world, but Cafe X founder Henry Hu says that’s not his intention. Rather, he wants to zero-in on the specialty coffee service industry by finding a faster way to make top-tier espresso. “This won’t replace baristas or the coffee shop experience that so many people have come to love—we don’t aim to do that,“ Hu said in a release. “What we’re offering is the best possible experience for people who are looking for consistent specialty coffee to-go.”

The lack of labor costs does come through in the prices—8-ounce drinks start at $2.25. And of course, Cafe X still has some people to pay, like on-site specialists whose job it is to answer your coffee-related questions.

[h/t TechCrunch]

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
Just Smelling Coffee Can Give You a Brain Boost
iStock
iStock

Coffee’s pleasures have long been proven to go beyond its function as a social and mental stimulant. For instance, its anti-inflammatory properties may contribute to greater longevity and it might lower your risk of type-2 diabetes. Most of these benefits are typically attributed to ingestion. But what if the smell of coffee led to a boost in your productivity? And what if that scent didn’t have to come from coffee at all?

The results of a new study published in the Journal of Environmental Psychology lend a lot of credence to the idea, as Newsweek reports. The paper describes 114 undergraduate business students who were asked to take a Graduate Management Aptitude Test (GMAT). One group was led into a room filled with the scent of coffee (which was generated by an electric diffuser) to take the 10-question algebra exam; another was taken into a room that didn’t carry the aroma. Participants who were in the Starbucks-esque environment scored significantly higher than students deprived of the scent.

The subjects later disclosed that they felt emboldened by the coffee smell as soon as they walked into the room, believing they would be more cognitively focused and better equipped to deal with the pending math problems. Since these students had higher expectations of themselves, it’s clear the smell created a placebo effect. It’s also possible that their past experience with coffee boosting their alertness created an olfactory association with its benefits. Even without actual caffeine, the students were still able to improve their mental functioning. Previously, scientists have discovered that sleep-deprived rats who smell coffee were able to ease their fatigue-related stress.

Still, while it’s perfectly fine to huff the aroma coming from your cup, you should stop short of actually snorting it. Powdered caffeine can easily facilitate an overdose of the drug that can lead to heart failure.

[h/t Newsweek]

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
Drinking Up to Eight Cups of Coffee a Day Could Help You Live Longer
iStock
iStock

Good news for coffee fiends: That extra cup of joe in the afternoon could help you live longer, according to a new UK-based study spotted by Newsweek. Researchers determined that people who drink between one and eight cups of coffee per day may have a lower chance of death, regardless of whether their bodies are able to metabolize caffeine well.

To reach these conclusions, the team of researchers analyzed data from the UK Biobank pertaining to the lifestyle choices, demographics, and genetic information of 500,000 people, 87 percent of whom were coffee drinkers. More than 14,000 participants died during the course of the study from 2006 to 2010, and an inverse relationship between coffee drinking and the risk of death was recorded.

These findings were published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, but scientists say more research is needed to determine the link between coffee and other health outcomes. A similar study last year by the European Society of Cardiology suggested that people who drink up to four cups of coffee a day are 64 percent less likely to die early than those who hardly drank coffee. Every two additional cups of coffee improved one’s odds of an extended life span by 22 percent, researchers determined.

However reassuring these results may be to latte lovers, public health specialist Robin Poole of the University of Southampton told Newsweek that this doesn’t necessarily mean non-coffee drinkers should suddenly start caffeinating. (Poole was not involved in the study.)

"We know that some people metabolize caffeine quite slowly and are less tolerant of the apparent physical affects of caffeine, which of course comes from many sources other than coffee,” Poole said. “Such people would be better to avoid too much coffee, or move toward decaffeinated choices, [which] this study has shown still have beneficial associations.”

[h/t Newsweek]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios