More and more, technology companies are focusing on automation across industries. There are obvious benefits, like speed and convenience. But is automation, and the removal of human workers, the best approach for every sector?

Amazon recently introduced its grocery stores where customers can pop in, grab what they need and leave without ever interacting with a person. For quick purchases like milk and eggs, this concept works well. Apply the human-free, checkout-free concept across all retail concepts, and things start to look downright depressing. Commerce, whether it be buying food, grabbing a quick coffee or getting the latest styles, is a big component of communities – and communities need human interaction to thrive.

In our series #HumansOfCommerce, we get to know the staff and owners behind the coffee shops and retail stores that play a small, but important role in our day to day lives.  Our first feature is Sameer, who owns a popular chain of coffee shops in downtown Toronto:

“I’ve been in the customer service business for over 15 years now and I can’t imagine doing anything else. Getting to know customers and developing a relationship with them is the best part of what I do. We just opened up this new location recently, but at our Adelaide location, we know 85% of our customers on a first-name basis. My wife asked me the other day how I feel about businesses becoming more automated. Well, the day when things like coffee making and selling stop having human interaction, it will be a sad sad day for our community. Where I’m originally from, business was done based on trust and a handshake and it brought people together. That intimacy and regular interaction that you can have with customers is incredible. Technology can’t replicate the small chit-chats and exchanges that leave people feeling happy about walking into their local coffee shop.”