Zipwhip CEO John Lauer showing off the Textspresso machine at the company's Seattle office

Seattle is really known for two things: coffee and tech geeks. And I’ve never seen those two worlds collide in such beautiful harmony — like peanut butter meeting chocolate in a Reese’s cup — than the newly-created “Textspresso” machine from Seattle cloud texting startup Zipwhip.

Life around the office coffee pot may never be the same if this crazy invention takes off.

Essentially, the contraption — and there’s really no better word for it since it is comprised of nearly 300 different parts in a hacked up Ikea cabinet — allows individuals to place a coffee order via text message and have the machine automatically make it.

That means a Zipwhip employee who is driving into work, coming back from lunch, taking a bathroom break or whatever could text the word “coffee” or “latte” to the machine, and voila by the time they arrive at the office the steaming hot beverage is sitting there on a warming tray.

The concept is almost too good to be true, so I stopped by Zipwhip’s offices this week to get a first-hand demo from CEO John Lauer.

Now, to be clear: Zipwhip is not in the business of making “Textspresso” machines. In fact, the reason for this very labor-intensive project (it took about 20 days to build) is to show off the power of the company’s cloud texting platform, which allows individuals to receive text messages on tablets and desktop computers.

We will talk about that later. But, for now, we wanted to see the “Textspresso” machine in all of its brewing glory.

It should be noted that the Zipwhip crew is still working out a few kinks. For example, on my visit a printer filled with edible ink wasn’t quite ready.

Yes, you read that right. Near the conclusion of the coffee-brewing process, the mug is designed to go under a printer so that the person’s phone number and Zipwhip’s logo is emblazoned with edible ink on the foam. After all, you don’t want confusion when picking up your steaming hot coffee.

Here’s Lauer taking us for a spin on the “Textspresso” machine:

Meanwhile, here’s Lauer in an earlier video discussing the edible-ink printing process:

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  • John Larson

    John – great having you down to the office for our debut of Textspresso! I showed a visitor the machine this morning and he nearly jumped through the roof. The next step feature is definitely to get a second camera capturing a first-time users reaction to it ;-)

    • johnhcook

      I had a blast checking out this innovation from Seattle, and I can’t wait for the version with the Kegerator. After all, Seattle is known for its micro-brews too. 

      • John Larson

        The text-enabled Kegerator was going to be another secret, or potentially a contest for the UW Computer Engineering department, but I guess it’s out in the open now. Whoever wants to take our code base and put it to good beer drinking, have at it :) I just want to be there for the first serving!

  • Ben Graham

    When can I get mine?

    • johnhcook

      Zipwhip’s John Lauer told me they do plan to open source all of the instructions/code base, etc. So, you should be able to build your very own, if you have about three weeks to spare. 

  • Brad Mitchell

    This is pretty incredible!  Although I love the idea of texting your order for a cup of joe, I’m much more intrigued by the prospects of ordering a delicious beer via text.  Nice work Zipwhip!!!

  • jvc

    Speaking as a Seattle resident, coffe geek , and tech lover, I am unimpressed. Android only and bragging about it is a losing proposition to start. Also any serious coffee drinker would not want the junk from this automatic machine. 

    • Andrew

      Somebody’s grumpy

    • Kelsey

      Just to be clear, anyone can text in for a coffee, not just Android phones. However, only Android phones can be cloud text enabled by Zipwhip because they have open API’s. So the coffee machine can only be powered by an Android phone. The closed environment of the iPhone doesn’t open up any API’s to let you tap into the flow of text messages. Fortunately Android is at 51% market share while the iPhone is dipping and is around 38%.

  • Alan Capps

    I cannot wait until other everyday items become text-enabled.

  • Blah

    Don’t drive and text!  

  • swagv

    Somebody clearly missed out on the Web-enabled coffee machine fad of 1994.

  • Troy Morris

    I really wanted to love Zipwhip, but couldn’t love something that appended a marketing message to my personal messages.

    Instead, I’ve used MightyText.

    It’s a great solution and I love having an Android because of it.

    Zipwhip, do you have plans to refigure your user growth plan to eliminate the method of requiring users to sell for you?

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