When it comes to gathering news about the impending robot apocalypse, Gizmodo is always my go-to site. Those folks, they've just got their fingers on the pulse of the robot revolution--the cold, metallic, inexorable pulse . . .
Usually, though, their robot news comes from a comfortable distance. In Tokyo, in Shanghai, even in Canada, robots are everywhere--making our ice cream, rolling our sushi, and flipping our enormous hamburgers. Coming from secret underground laboratories and cluttered garages in the Midwest, robots are slowly making their way into our everyday lives.
But late last week, Gizmodo came up with a story that hit a little close to home--about the robot doing pourovers at Roy Street Coffee & Tea (which is nothing more than a stealth Starbucks coffee laboratory).
The robot in question is the Clover Precision Pourover machine, and this is what Gizmodo had to say about it:
"The nerd-standard in your average nerdy coffee shop is regular coffee, brewed by hand. A pourover: A barista slowly whirls a kettle over a Hario V60 cone or a Chemex, in neatly orchestrated concentric circles. I've had some amazing pourovers, but I'd had even more shitty ones.
The coffee's often underextracted, even in typically great shops--and that's not surprising when you've got one barista trying to handle five hand-crafted coffees simultaneously with only his two hands. Consistency is hard. It requires care, man. Unless you're a robot. Like Starbucks' Clover Precision Pourover machine."
According to the article, Roy Street currently has the only Pourover robot in the whole world and is working that thing like a rented mule, having it make pourover after pourover for the coffee-drinking masses (they even have a video of it in action, if you're down for a little hot robot action). And while there are many reasons why this is a bad idea (not the least of which being that every additional robot in the world just means one more robot that will be turned against us humans when the revolution comes), with this particular bit of labor-saving technology, I actually have a few reasons why it might be a good idea as well. To wit:
1) Coffee Robot is always going to be more consistent than its fleshy human counterparts, and when it comes to the difference between a great cup of coffee and the crap I'm generally accustomed to drinking, consistency is about 50% of the battle.
2) Coffee Robot is not going to wait until I get up to the counter after waiting 20 minutes behind a snarl of under-caffeinated yuppies and then suddenly decide it needs a break.
3) Coffee Robot is not going to wait until I get up to the counter after waiting 20 minutes behind a snarl of under-caffeinated yuppies and then suddenly get a text message from its boyfriend that sends it into weeping hysterics.
4) Coffee Robot can probably be programmed to pretend like it cares about the screenplay you've been working on, hunched over your netbook at Roy Street for the past year.
5) Coffee Robot will smell less like cats and patchouli than your average barista.
6) Coffee Robot will not pretend that being a Starbucks barista automatically bestows upon it a master's degree in international finance or trade law, and will not lecture you about shade-grown, fair-trade beans, the relative merits of Indonesian versus Ethiopian growing methods, or radical Marxist politics.
7) Coffee Robot will not needlessly assail you with ridiculous barista lingo. As of right now, Coffee Robot can't even talk.
8) Coffee Robot will not mind if you hit on it. Coffee Robot understands how sexy its flow nozzles are.
9) Coffee Robot can hold water hot at a temperature consistent to one-tenth of a degree, making it somewhat less likely that it will scald all the hair off my knuckles when it inevitably spills coffee on me.
10) Coffee Robot lives on electricity rather than bean sprouts, cruelty-free tofu loaf, clove cigarettes, and Dick's cheeseburgers, making it cheaper to employ than your average barista.
11) Coffee Robot will not call in sick after huffing too much beaver tranquilizer at last night's Black Whales show.
I could go on and on, but I think you get the picture. Right now, Coffee Robot is alone in the world--determinedly making pourovers for hardcore coffee nerds. But soon there may come a day when all a barista's critical duties (like making coffee and . . . making more coffee) will be handled by emotionless automatons. Will this be a better world? I don't know. But it will be a safer and more consistent one for coffee drinkers.
At least until Coffee Robot starts reading Karl Marx and learns how to pick up a knife.