Sun, Feb 04, 2018 - Page 4 News List

Robot barista brews and serves coffee at new Tokyo cafe


A robot barista named Sawyer makes coffee at Henn-na Cafe in Tokyo on Friday.

Photo: AP

Japan has a new cafe where customers can enjoy coffee brewed and served by a robot barista.

The robot named Sawyer debuted this week at Henna Cafe in Shibuya. The shop’s name in Japanese means “strange cafe.”

The single-armed robot scans a ticket purchased from a vending machine and greets the customer.

“Would you care for a delicious coffee?” the barista, with a screen showing a pair of cartoon eyes, asks in a flat tone. “I can make one better than human beings around here.”

It grinds the coffee beans, fills a filter and pours hot water over a paper cup for up to five people at once. A cup of brewed coffee costs ¥320 (US$2.91) and takes a few minutes.

Sawyer can also operate an automated machine for six other hot drinks, including cappuccinos, hot chocolate and green tea lattes.

Customers, many of them young men, took photographs with their smartphones while they waited in line.

The cafe operator, travel agency H.I.S. Co, says robots can increase productivity while also entertaining customers.

“An essential point is to increase productivity,” H.I.S corporate planning general manager Masataka Tamaki said.

Only one person needs to oversee the robot cafe, compared to several people needed at a regular coffee shop, so it can serve better quality coffee at a reasonable price, he added.

However, he said it is not just about efficiency.

“We want the robot to entertain customers, so it’s not like buying coffee at a vending machine,” he added.

Takeshi Yamamoto, a 68-year-old restaurant employee who works in the neighborhood, said his first experience with the robot cafe was very enjoyable, and his coffee was delicious.

“It’s quite rich and tastes very good,” Yamamoto said as he took a sip. “You can get machine-made coffee at convenience stores, too, and it’s actually good, but here, I had great fun.”

See ROBOTS on page 7

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