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Portland coffee shop using a new kind of barista to serve customers safely

A robot is at the counter at In J Coffee in an effort to slow the spread of coronavirus

At In J Coffee in Southwest Portland, owner and U.S. coffee-roasting champ Joe Yang engineers the perfect cup of coffee for each and every customer.

“Because they trust me," Yang said, "also they know that I just got the first place in the U.S roasting competition, so they really trust me."

Patrons always expect a good cup of coffee at the shop, but recently they noticed their baristas look a little different. 

A few months ago, Yang and his friends were thinking of a way to keep customers and the business safe during the COVID-19 crisis. 

"We said, 'We have to do something. We know it’s hard but we have to try,” Yang explained.

The result is a robot arm programmed to make and safely serve coffee with no physical contact, limiting the spread of coronavirus.

How exactly does the robotic barista work? 

First, place your order at the counter, then the robot barista takes it from there. But as innovative as it is, Yang knows the robot can only copy a barista and not replace one. 

"It cannot make something special for customers, cannot provide good service," he said.

The robot is in a testing phase at the coffee shop.

"If the virus is getting worse this machine definitely will be will be useful,” Yang said.

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