Panera Bread is testing a new, artificially intelligent coffee system designed to ensure every cup of joe is hot and fresh.
The 2,121-unit fast-casual chain has partnered with Miso Robotics, the maker of Flippy and other automated foodservice products, to use its CookRight Coffee technology at some locations this year.
CookRight will monitor the coffee station, measuring things like volume, temperature and time and using AI to anticipate demand. This lets Panera staff know precisely when to brew a new batch and also eliminates the need for them to manually check on the coffee throughout the day, the companies said.
The St. Louis-based chain has emphasized its coffee in recent years through a hugely successful monthly subscription program.
“CookRight Coffee is a game-changer when it comes to convenience and operational efficiency,” said George Hanson, Panera’s SVP and chief digital officer, in a statement. “We are extremely excited to take our coffee station into the future with Miso Robotics.”
Foodservice operations have been investing in more automation as costs rise and employees become harder to find. Panera, in particular, has embraced the technology via digital initiatives like ordering kiosks and mobile-order-at-the-table that are designed to ease operations in the front of house.
It now becomes the latest big chain to partner with Miso, joining White Castle, which is using Flippy at the fry station, and Chipotle, which last month said it would test a robot called Chippy to make its tortilla chips.
Miso introduced its CookRight product last year. It’s the same software that powers its robots, but without the actual robot hardware. CookRight Coffee, for instance, runs on a tablet that is hooked up to the coffee station.
“When we announced the CookRight platform in 2021, we knew we could apply it to various stations at a restaurant as the product developed, and we saw an immediate need for it at the coffee station,” said Miso CEO Mike Bell in a statement. “We are thrilled that Panera shares in our vision to revamp the coffee monitoring process, and can’t wait for CookRight Coffee to be installed at their restaurants to help customers and team members alike.”