Experience AI-made coffee: A programmed coffee master
By Yang Shanshan

With the world still in the grip of a pandemic, AI is providing a safe solution to human interactions, and it has become a highlight of the ongoing China International Fair for Trade in Services held in Beijing.  

Participants at the trade expo are trying out these immersive AI experiences for themselves, including a robot that can brew coffee.

The eye-catching AI coffee making robots are equipped with two arms, can do more complicated tasks than a regular coffee machine. They don't just serve up Americanos and lattes, but more complicated drinks, like pour-over coffee with special flavors, so as to cater to niche coffee fanatics. 

"The reason we invent this machine is that we really want to help people in the coffee industry to create more coffee with standard quality, rather than unstable quality coffee made by humans. If you pour over 100 cups of coffee, you are really tired. But machines are not," said Yang Xinbo, the AI coffee developer from Orion Star. 

The robot baristas can already be found at Beijing's Heshenghui shopping mall. There is a coffee corner completely staffed by robots where customers can order and get their coffee from an AI-enabled machine. 

But when a barrista is replaced by a machine, what can human beings do? Yang Xinbo, the AI developer, himself was a coffee fanatic and used to serve coffee to close friends. He believes that these robots will redefine the work of baristas. 

"I'm busier than before. The reason is that coffee machines can help me doing a lot of work that I really don't want to do. I really want to share information with people who drink the coffee, so that when they go to different coffee shops, they understand what they are drinking. They understand more about the culture. And we are trying to put different programs into this coffee machine, we are trying to give barristers a lot of freedom to think about how to create better flavor, rather than keep repeating some tiring job."

Freeing people from arduous work and retraining them to create new things, Yang Xinbo believes that's how AI can transform our daily lives. He feels the coronavirus pandemic is accelerating the application of AI technology, particularly in areas like retail, distance clinics, education, and autonomous vehicles. There's no doubt AI technology can bring us unexpected convenience while deeply changing our society.