May 23, 2024

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All Food and Drink Made by Robots at CES 2024, Ranked from Worst to First

5 min read

If you came to CES 2024 hungry, there was no shortage of robots whipping up tasty eats and drinks live on the showroom floor. Brands were touting automated food and drink robots with a little something for everyone. 

There are robots to play with your dog or assist with home health care, but the presence of AI-powered ovens, intelligent grills and smart cocktail machines has significantly increased at the consumer tech expo in recent years. The 2024 convention saw several additions to the lineup of smart kitchen gadgets and culinary bots. 

But how do the items they prepare taste?

Read more: Biggest Trends of CES 2024: AI, Transparent Screens and Off-Grid Tech to Power Your Home

From homemade ice cream in two minutes, to push-button ramen and fresh cocktails in a flash, I tried everything I could get my hands on at this year’s electronics show in Las Vegas. These are the best (and worst) foods and drinks made by robots at CES 2024, ranked. 

9. Yo-Kai, prime beef pho

hand holding cup of pho

The beef in my prime beef pho left something to be desired. 

David Watsky/CNET

Yo-Kai is an autonomous restaurant that creates hot orders of pan-Asian food from scratch, all within the confines of a single vending machine-size unit. The Yo-Kai machine cooks and dispenses bowls of hot ramen, pho and udon made from fresh ingredients in 90 seconds. The Japanese food-technology company has engineered a smaller, countertop version too, though it’s not quite ready for consumer sale. 

I tried three of Yo-Kai’s offerings at CES, so the brand appears multiple times on my list. The beef in the prime beef pho was my least favorite, and the meat tasted anything but prime — though the pho broth and floating rice cakes were excellent. The dish was perfectly edible, but still placed last on my list of CES’ robot-made eats. 

8. iGulu, IPA

hand holding sample of beer

iGulu’s IPA tasted nice, with a good hop presence, but it was a little undercarbonated.  

David Watsky/CNET

iGulu is a sleek and smart at-home brewer that simplifies the beermaking process. Just fill the brewing chamber with water, add four to five ingredients when the system tells you. About two weeks later, you’ll have 40 liters of freshly made beer in a self-cooling kegerator.

The IPA I sampled at CES had a satisfying flavor profile but lacked the carbonation I crave in a hoppy ale. 

7. Sweet Robo, soft serve ice cream

ice cream in robot cup

Sweet Robo’s soft serve was whipped up in 2 minutes and perfectly satisfying.

David Watsky/CNET

This is one of two ice cream robots on the list. The massive Ice Cream Robot is made for movie theaters, amusement parks and malls, but one was planted at CES churning portions of soft serve to hungry passersby. The machine makes swirls of fresh vanilla, chocolate or pistachio in less than 2 minutes. It even lets you choose toppings such as strawberry sauce or sprinkles. 

The soft serve I slurped was perfectly fine. It reminded me of, well, most of the soft serve I’ve had. Creamy, not too sweet, with no corn syrup taste. I would gladly eat it again and watching it being made was fun, but the ice cream itself wasn’t unique or memorable. 

6. Yo-Kai, chocolate boba tea

cup of boba in front of machine

I don’t drink much boba tea, but my colleagues who do tell me this robot-made version was up to snuff.

David Watsky/CNET

Full disclosure, I’m not a big fan of pearl tea, so the placement of this tasting should be taken with a grain of salt. The tapioca balls, the only thing I like about boba, were chewy, toothsome and delicious. A few colleagues of mine who do like boba told me it was great. 

5. TechMagic, chicken stir-fry

stir fry in front of robot machine

TechMagic’s robot makes a decent stir fry on demand. 

David Watsky/CNET

This industrial str-fry machine intended to help restaurants streamline their kitchens, nabbed a lot of attention in the food tech section of CES. I don’t think I was supposed to taste this one, but someone left a bowl of piping-hot stir fry unattended and I waltzed away with it like a common thief. 

The chicken was tender, the vegetables were properly cooked and the teriyaki sauce was delicate and flavorful. All in all, a pretty solid stir-fry, made autonomously in minutes.

Steak Toasters, Indoor Smokers and Robot Cocktails: All the Kitchen Tech of CES 2024

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4. ColdSnap ice cream, multiple flavors

pod being loaded into cold snap maker

Pod goes in. Ice cream comes out. All the ColdSnap flavors I tried were tasty.

David Watsky/CNET

ColdSnap is still working its way through the final stages of engineering, but it’ll be rolling out to restaurant partners this year and retail stores in 2025. Of the two robot ice cream makers I tried, ColdSnap — which turns shelf-stable cans into smooth and delicious ice cream in two minutes — was the clear winner. 

I tasted ColdSnap’s instant vanilla, chocolate and coffee. (And, yes, the people handing out ice cream at the booth are definitely sick of me). All of the flavors tasted like they were made with fresh cream and natural flavors with no cheap sweeteners. Even ColdSnap’s vegan chocolate ice cream made with oat milk was a hit.

3. Barsys, madras cocktail

cocktail inside machine

My expectations were tempered for the Barsys robot cocktail machine, but the Madras I sipped was excellent.

David Watsky/CNET

Barsys is a more craft version of the original robot cocktail maker, Bartesian. While Bartesian mixes premade cocktail pods with booze, Barsys makes them from scratch. There are six 1-liter reservoirs in which one can put juices, liquors and other ingredients. 

An integrated app lets you know which cocktails are possible with whatever’s in your machine and then whips one up with the push of a button. The measured drink is dispensed into a special plastic glass below with built-in paddles that mix the cocktail automatically before you serve it up or over ice.  

I had low expectations for this one, but the Barsys machine delivered a bright and balanced madras — vodka, cranberry and orange — that I happily drank. 

2. iGulu, Bavarian wheat beer

sample of beer in hand

iGulu’s Bavarian wheat beer was excellent.

David Watsky/CNET

iGulu’s Bavarian wheat beer was much better than the mostly flat IPA. As you can see, it had a nice head, good carbonation and plenty of classic wheat beer notes like citrus and clove.

1. Yo-Kai, pork tonkotsu ramen

hand holding ramen sample

It’s hard to beat a good ramen on a chilly day. Yo-Kai’s autonomous restaurant steals the top spot with a solid pork tonkotsu offering. 

David Watsky/CNET

While Yo-Kai’s beef pho didn’t impress, the 90-second pork tonkotsu ramen was the best robot dish I tried all of CES. The pork was melt-in-the-mouth tender and the miso-based broth was an umami-bomb of the best sort. I will gladly surrender to the robots if they promise to make this ramen for me every day.

See what else is cooking at CES 2024 in our full coverage of the tech expo.


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