Happy Monday! Last week in coffee news: A Starbucks computer glitch led to free coffee, a new study found drinking coffee may protect against breast cancer recurrence, and scientists introduced the “Robobarista”.
Last Friday, company-operated Starbucks stores in the U.S. and Canada experienced a point of sale register outage early in the evening caused by a glitch in the system during a daily system refresh. Some stores closed early, while others stores stayed open and gave away free coffee to customers who stopped in. Eventually Starbucks released a statement stating “our stores that have not already closed for the evening are closing early” and that was that. The problem was resolved by Saturday morning and everything went back to business as usual. – There was practically a social media frenzy while this was going down on Friday; it was all over Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, blogs, and various news site. Nothing like free coffee to start a buzz (ok, that’s my bad pun for the day)
A group of researchers, led by Lund University, have released a new study looking at the effects of coffee on breast cancer patients being treated with the drug tamoxifen (an estrogen blocker). The study indicates drinking at least two cups of coffee a day while taking tamoxifen can cut the risk of breast cancer recurrence by half. The researchers found that, when taken in combination with tamoxifen, the caffeine and caffeic acid in coffee react with breast cancer cells and cause reduced cell division and increased cell death. The researchers are quick to point out, that while it seems coffee reinforces the effectiveness of treatment with tamoxifen, it is incredibly important to take prescribed medication.
Over at Cornell University’s Robot Learning Lab, scientists are working on a robot that can figure out how to work your new coffee machine. The idea behind their research is making a robot that can work in household environments (using the stove, working the coffee machine, etc) “based on the idea that many household objects share similarly-operated object parts”. By giving the robot a manual to a new appliance (i.e. your new coffee machine), it should be able to draw on past experience with similar household objects and be able to work the new machine. Because an espresso machine was used as the first test bed, the robot is being called the Robobarista. Check out the video below and watch the Robobarista make a latte on an espresso machine it’s using for the first time: