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04/12/2022

Panera keeps the coffee hot – with robots

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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Panera is deploying the Miso Robotics CookRight Coffee solution. (Courtesy of Miso Robotics).

Panera Bread is automating the coffee monitoring process.

The casual-dining restaurant chain is the first retailer to evaluate and test the new Miso Robotics CookRight Coffee robotic coffee monitoring solution. The artificial intelligence (AI)-based technology is designed to monitor key coffee metrics such as volume, temperature and time data, and combine these with predictive analytics to help ensure properly served coffee and more efficient employee performance.

Panera also intends to eliminate the need for manual checks of coffee urns, as well as provide accurate insights into coffee volume and temperature to allow associates to brew a new batch at precisely the right time. The retailer specifically intends to leverage CookRight Coffee to support its “Unlimited Sip Club” subscription plan, which lets members drink unlimited coffee and tea for $8.99/month.

Fast-food hamburger chain White Castle is also utilizing Miso Robotics technology in its kitchen. White Castle is deploying the Miso Flippy 2 robotic frying solution to 100 stores. By taking over the work of an entire fry station, Flippy 2 streamlines back-of-house activities at quick-service restaurants to create a working environment that maximizes the efficiency of the kitchen for human associates.

Meanwhile, Panera has been launching a variety of solutions designed to create a more technology-connected experience. These implementations include a contactless dine-in service designed to helps customers avoid lines or shared devices like kiosks or pagers by using their own mobile devices, as well other omnichannel ordering options, such as curbside, drive-thru, rapid pick-up, and delivery.

In addition, in November 2021, Panera introduced a new next-gen restaurant design. The new concept features a double-lane drive-thru, with one lane specifically for the brand’s rapid pickup service. Digital innovations include contactless dine-in and delivery, updated ordering kiosks, automatic loyalty identification, and a fully digitized menu both in-cafe and in drive-thru.

[Read more: First Look: Panera Bread unveils next-gen restaurant]

"Panera has a long history of tech innovation in service of meeting the needs of our guests and associates when they walk through our doors each day," said George Hanson, senior VP and chief digital officer of Panera. "CookRight Coffee is a game-changer when it comes to convenience and operational efficiency, and we are extremely excited to take our coffee station into the future with Miso Robotics."

"In order to meet the needs of the rapidly evolving restaurant industry, we want our products to come to market quickly and maintain a high level of flexibility," said Mike Bell, CEO of Miso Robotics. "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. 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."