We here at Sprudge are pro-Barista full stop. Or at least we thought we were until we heard this latest news, and we can confidently say we are pro-Barista semi-colon. Robot baristas are asking for tips and we aren’t exactly sure how to feel about it.

As reported by the New York Post, the robot barista goes by Jarvis and is the creation of Artly Coffee. (If that name tickles something in the dark recesses of your coffee memory, human barista Joe Yang won the 2023 US Brewers Cup competing on behalf of none other than Artly.) The “AI-powered” robot—though in context, I’m not entirely sure what that means—can be found in 12 different locations across the United States and Canada, many of them inside MUJI retail locations. The autonomous arm with a cute pair of googly eyes can make all manner of espresso-based hot and cold drinks as well as cold brew, matcha drinks, some pretty delicious-sounding yuzu beverages, and strawberry iced milk (unflavored for me), all in a matter of minutes.

And for all of Jarvis’s hard work, you can leave him/it a tip.

advert new rules of coffee now available


To say that the barista bot is asking for a tip is a bit sensational. When paying, you are presented with the option of leaving a tip, no different than pretty much any other interaction with a point-of-sale payment system. But it poses an interesting question—and one we will increasingly be required to answer as the domain of automation continues to expand: should you tip a robot?

On one hand, there are humans that have to service the machine, restock it, and do all the day-to-day activities outside of drink creation that keep Jarvis chugging along. Perhaps they are the recipient of the tips, and if so, fine. (Though there’s no guarantee that is the case, and do we currently tip the techs who come and service a cafe’s espresso machine?)

And on the other hand, lol no you can’t be serious. Tipping is already fraught, a necessary evil that allows service industry workers to make ends meet. In an ideal world, tipping wouldn’t exist. Expanding the practice to non-human worker-bots—who don’t even receive the tips and wouldn’t have any use for them even if they did—seems like opening a whole can of worms that can’t be put back.

Or maybe the answer is somewhere in between. Perhaps the 21st-century tipping matrix should include a modifier for how human-like the interaction was. A Turing test for adding a little something extra on top. What if the barista is more humanoid than robot? More Dolores than Johnny Five.

Surely they can stumble through the cafe-approved banter script as well as, if not better than, a human barista. No, I don’t have big plans for the day, Jarvis, thanks for asking. The weather IS nice today, I wasn’t aware that the relative humidity was 23% right now, that’s good to know. Maybe that’s worth a shilling or two. Under no circumstances am I tipping those AI humanoid workers from Figure, though; they give me the willies.

Zac Cadwalader is the managing editor at Sprudge Media Network and a staff writer based in Dallas. Read more Zac Cadwalader on Sprudge.