Local startup's Textspresso machine takes orders via text msg

SEATTLE -- In a city known for its love of coffee and technology, it's almost surprising this didn't happen sooner.

A local startup has created what it calls a "Textspresso" machine. A simple text message instructs the unmanned espresso machine to whip up a custom cup of coffee.

"We really do drink a lot of coffee here," said {A href="" target="_blank"}Zipwhip CEO John Lauer. "I keep hearing people say, 'I drank way too much coffee today."'

Tired of the dregs in their ordinary coffee pot, these brainiacs decided to invent the Textspresso machine.

"If we're going to do it and blow some bank on it, we better really make it count," said Lauer. "We had gotten our network to a point where it was so awesome on our cloud-texting platform with everyone getting texts on their desktop (that) we just had to combine it. It just became this thing we had to do."

The machine is only intended to serve the couple dozen people who work at Zipwhip, but Lauer agreed to let us give it a try.

After texting the machine my order, I watched as the machine grabbed a cup, grinded up some beans and brewed my coffee to order.

And the machine even has a labeling feature that uses edible ink to customize each cup. The creators took apart a computer printer
to re-purpose the parts for this component.

Despite the impressive machine, the Seattle-based startup isn't in the coffee business. Rather, Zipwhip, a business fueled by ingenuity, wants to revolutionize the way people use text messaging.

"When somebody texts your phone, the only place for you to actually read it today is on your phone. And that's fine most of the time," said Lauer.

"But what if you're sitting at your computer with your 30-inch monitor and your gorgeous keyboard? Why can't you just get your text popping up on your desktop? It almost seems a little bit crazy that it's 2012 and (we have) all of our amazing technology, and you still can't get your tiny little 160-character text popping up on your desktop.

"That's what we sell. If you install our app on your (Android) phone and you install our app on your desktop or your tablet, your texts start popping up on those. It's really that simple, and then you can reply right there," Lauer said.

But watching the Textspresso machine in action, it was hard to remember Zipwhip is all about text messaging; the startup's machine makes a mean cup of coffee.

Alas, the Textspresso machine is not commercially available.

"I'm very, very sorry, but you cannot have one of these," said Lauer.

But there is some hope. Zipwhip will eventually publish its Textspresso machine plans online. That way, anyone willing to spend the several thousand dollars and three weeks of time it takes to build one can do so.