This is not the first time we have seen or heard of a robotic barista. Yet, it is nothing like the robotic baristas we have heard or seen.
The initial purpose of this innovation may have been to save on manpower, and you may think that an upgrade would probably just bring us one step closer to I, Robot territory. Thankfully, that's not the case because we take coffee very seriously, and the art of brewing a good cuppa demands the human touch. Plus, the issue is not about how fast you can produce a cup of coffee; increasing the number of cafes and coffee chains by means of automation won't cut it when what we are all looking out for is quality.
Local startup ROSS Digital thus came together with some of the coffee experts from Tiong Hoe Speciality Coffee to develop THE SUPER MANUAL, the world's first dual-arm robotic barista that seeks not to replace, but to preserve the craft of coffee-making. Just like how the very best specialty coffee baristas calibrate their coffee grinders and espresso machine at least twice a day, the TSM requires a human barista to manually calibrate its system everyday (twice a day to be exact) for perfect, purely-robot-made coffees to consistently come to fruition.
This is what makes the TSM stand out—by continuing to be informed by the human decisions that ground the art of coffee making, human baristas remain indispensable to the field, and will continue to be celebrated. All while also being relieved of the arduous labour that comes with the practice.
Now for most of us who usually just do the consuming part, it's not easy understanding how helpful having something like the TSM is. You'd be surprised at how much food wastage comes out from making just one espresso because you can't "ungrind" a coffee bean or "unfroth" milk. Plus, the accuracy involved in getting the right silky consistency of a simple latte can be very time-consuming given there's always human error involved when the eye is your tool of measurement. Good thing ROSS Digital decided to open a TSM pop-up at ION Orchard for us to witness in person the convenience and efficiency of robot-assisted coffee-making. To be specific, that means being able to make a cup of coffee for ourselves, right after seeing the TSM do its thing. And as expected, it was a very effective use of contrast.
The folks at ROSS Digital got the robotic counterparts of the TSM to mimic the actions of an experienced specialty coffee barista so that all it has to do is, essentially, repeat with precision. Which is obviously a no-brainer for a robot, and not one for us perfectly imperfect humans. Instead of having to constantly adjust the temperature for the very temperature-sensitive coffee beans, test your estimation skills every time you grind the beans into powder, and remember to press the timer for 24 seconds every time you froth milk, the TSM automates all these procedures and does it for you. After trying a hand at the traditional making method, we'd gladly deal with the problems of just one (albeit big) machine instead, as we are certain you would too.
So with the TSM, expect more friendly chats with the barista, if you're into that kind of thing. Or maybe just a friendlier experience, if you tend to grab your coffees during peak traffic periods. At the heart of it, this system celebrates the synergy of Man and machine, altogether with other high quality partners like the Modbar by La Marzocco, one of world’s leading traditional espresso machines. Baristas are the key to quality, and the TSM does a pretty good job of supporting that.
In conjunction with the launch of TSM, ROSS Digital will be hosting a pop-up at ION Orchard (#B1-14) from 20th December 2021 to 30th January 2022.