South Korean bar hopes robot bartender will alleviate social distancing anxieties

Finally, a bartender that won’t judge me for requesting a small dish of maraschino cherries with every drink.

The Coffee Bar K in Seoul, South Korea, is hoping that its robot bartender – named Cabo – will help bring peace of mind to customers amid the coronavirus pandemic.

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“Since this space is usually filled with people, customers tend to feel very anxious,” said Choi Won-woo, a human bartender who works alongside Cabo at Coffee Bar K, in a statement to Reuters. “I think they would feel safer if the robot makes and serves the ice rather than if we were to do it ourselves.”

“Since this space is usually filled with people, customers tend to feel very anxious,” said Choi Won-woo, a human bartender who works alongside Cabo at Coffee Bar K, in a statement to Reuters. “I think they would feel safer if the robot makes and serves the ice rather than if we were to do it ourselves.”

“Since this space is usually filled with people, customers tend to feel very anxious,” said Choi Won-woo, a human bartender who works alongside Cabo at Coffee Bar K, in a statement to Reuters. “I think they would feel safer if the robot makes and serves the ice rather than if we were to do it ourselves.” (Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji)

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For now, however, that’s all Cabo is tasked with doing — making ice. But it’s not just any ice. Cabo can reportedly make perfectly spherical ice balls for whisky drinks, and he brags about it too.

“Do you see this? A beautiful ice ball has been made,” he announces upon completing his task. “Enjoy some cold whisky.”

“Do you see this? A beautiful ice ball has been made,” the robot announces upon completing his task. “Enjoy some cold whisky.”

“Do you see this? A beautiful ice ball has been made,” the robot announces upon completing his task. “Enjoy some cold whisky.” (Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji)

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Cabo, meanwhile, isn’t a new type of robot, having been around since 2017. But the management at Coffee Bar K is hopeful that he’ll ease customers’ minds amid the pandemic, when the country’s citizens are reminded to practice safe social distancing practices.

Coffee Bar K isn’t the only establishment taking advantage of nonhuman servers. The Café Bot Bot Bot, too, has a nonhuman “bartender” that actually mixes drinks, though it’s really only a robotic arm, rather than an entire 6-foot robot like Cabo.

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However, while he’s arguably safer and objectively adorable, Cabo and his fellow robot bartenders may leave something to be desired, according to one customer who spoke with Reuters: specifically, that you can’t talk to them or tell them about your “worries.”