SEATTLE — When you step inside Artly Coffee near Pike Place Market, you’re greeted by a friendly voice.
"Hi, I am Jarvis,” it says. “It is my pleasure to serve you today."
Just don't expect eye contact.
Artly is Seattle's first artificial intelligence coffee bar, where cups are prepared by barista bots (named Jarvis and Amanda.)
"It is our baby, right?" said co-founder Meng Wang. "Makes me smile inside."
Wang’s background in AI and robotics at Amazon lead him to the idea, after talking with friends who own small coffee shops. They stressed the need to make precise cups, every time. He knew robots could learn and execute.
But he said the idea isn’t to replace masterful human baristas — it’s to share their skills in more places.
"Artly is a very human-centric company, it's all about preserving the craft,” Wang said. “Robots cannot create the craft, it's human who create the craft. So in that sense, it will never replace humans."
There is always at least one human on-site, to help answer ordering questions and serve treats from a pastry case.
But for the most part, customers communicate their needs via technology.
Drinks can be ordered online or at kiosks, and the barista bots can answer some spoken questions by way of microphones and AI learning.
The robots also make recommendations for certain drinks, like iced lattes (they taste better after stirring.)
First-time customer Diana Sabb was convinced.
"Delicious, it's absolutely amazing,” she said. "Yeah, Jarvis is it."
The Seattle spot is one of seven locations and the only one in Washington State — but Wang hopes to open ten more locations throughout the West Coast in 2023.
Artly Coffee may be a caffeinated glimpse into the future.
"I guess so,” Wang said, laughing. “It's one version of the future."
Artly is located at 101 Stewart St. in Seattle and is open daily.
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