As a barista with more than 1 year of experience, I can safely say that I'm amongst the foremost experts on specialty coffee in Singapore and my highly educated informed opinions are taken seriously by my fellow professionals.
So when I say we're all royally fucked and should take the threat of robot baristas seriously, I'm sure everyone in the industry will sit up, take notice and appropriately shit their collective beds.
We've seen a couple of coffee concepts built around the idea of automated pop up around the island ranging from the trash (Crown? Ella? Whatever they're called now) to the decent (Ratio at ION Orchard).
" But as an experienced specialty barista, I have an acute developed palate that allows me to carefully detect the nuances of coffee roasts and make adjustments accordingly.. I'm not worried.."
Of course Mr Rockstar Barista. I hear you. You're absolutely right. In a one-on-one brew off with a dopey-ass robot arm, you'd come up tops 9 times out of 10.
Unfortunately not everyone buys coffee from a single barista.
And even if they did, the argument that a single human barista can serve more quality cups, say a volume of 100,000 coffees, compared to an automated process that has data & machine learning algorithms built in for continuous incremental improvements makes zero mathematical and statistical sense.
It's not all bad news though.
Now that we know the party is over and that our days of pourover kungfu masters poses are numbered, we can approach our jobs and our businesses with the clarity that mortality inevitably brings; nothing is permanent and every cup we get to serve is a blessing in itself.