Panera tests Miso Robotics coffee monitoring system

Dive Brief:

  • Panera will test CookRight Coffee, a new artificial intelligence-enabled coffee monitoring system developed by Miso Robotics, at two restaurants, Panera’s Chief Digital Officer George Hanson told Restaurant Dive in an email. Panera is the first restaurant chain to test the technology.
  • CookRight Coffee guarantees a fresh cup of coffee by combining time, temperature and volume data with predictive analytics to alert employees when to brew new batches of coffee.
  • Miso Robotics has expanded its reach in recent months as major chains, including Buffalo Wild Wings, White Castle and Chipotle, look to robotics and AI to create efficiencies on the shop floor. Miso raised $ 50 million in series C and D funding before announcing another $ 40 million funding round in February.

Dive Insight:

CookRight Coffee’s mix of sensors saves employees time because it “eliminates the need for manual checks of coffee urns while easy and accurate insights can be viewed on the interface that is conveniently located where the associates work,” Mike Bell, Miso’s CEO, said in an emailed statement.

The technology doesn’t automate any steps of the coffee production process, however, Bell said. The tool will initially alert workers through a tablet located in the back of the house, but eventually it will connect directly with Panera’s POS, Hanson said.

“The goal of this isn’t automation – it’s rooted in optimizing efficiency and quality, to enable our associates to focus less on these kinds of tasks, and more on spending time giving our guests an amazing in-cafe experience,” Hanson said. Its business focuses primarily on reducing the most difficult and onerous tasks in fast food, freeing up workers to focus on other aspects of work, Miso said in an SEC filing.

Hanson said the product was a seamless fit into the company’s existing coffee setups, adding that “unless you were looking for this you wouldn’t realize the technology was there.”

Neither company specified the price of the CookRight Coffee system, or what labor costs it’s expected to save.

“We’re always scouring the market for new and innovative technology that will help us optimize efficiency and improve quality,” Hanson said. “Given the success of Panera’s coffee subscription program and the amount of coffee that we sell in general, when we learned of this technology it was something that definitely made the cut to test.”

Panera’s coffee subscription program was piloted in 150 cafes before the pandemic and increased visits by 70% in test markets before the program expanded nationwide.

In a press release issued Tuesday, Bell said the CookRight Coffee system is an iteration of a previously debuted system for monitoring food preparation.

“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,” Bell said.

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