It's the next best thing to a programmable coffee maker, and you probably didn't even know it was available: Textspresso, the technology that allows users to text an order to a coffee machine! Textspresso isn't available in stores -- rather, they are offering this technology to coffee maker manufacturers -- and relies on a cloud-based texting platform to get the job of brewing a cup of coffee done.
It is designed by Zipwhip, who has made the code used to control coffee makers open-source to encourage its use. Although there is no machine on the market relying on Textspresso, Zipwhip brought a De'Longhi espresso maker to the Cnet office to show them how it works.
How It Works
A user in need of coffee simply texts their order using their smartphone or other texting interface such as Google Voice to the phone number associated with that Textspresso-capable machine. As soon as your order is started brewing, the machine will let you know via text, and then again when it is done brewing. If the machine needs more water or coffee beans, it will send a text alerting you to this.
How is this possible? Give thanks to Raspberry Pi. Zipwhip took the De'Longhi machine, cracked it open and inserted a programmed Raspberry Pi computer with customized circuit board attached. The computer and circuit board work as if you were actually pressing the button to brew the coffee.
A persistent Wi-Fi network keeps the machine connected to the Internet, and Zipwhip relies on its cloud-based platform in order to convert the texts to commands recognized by the machine thanks to a dedicated landline, then sent via Wi-Fi.
This is up to the user as to whether or not its practical. Yes, it's a time-saving device for sure, if you drink a lot of coffee and simply can't take the time to prepare your own. You don't have to sit there waiting for others to prepare their own coffee: instead, you tell the machine what you want and it tells you when it is done.
However, think about the possible downfalls of this machine. First of all, what if the person that takes their coffee before yours forgets to put a cup down, leaving a big mess behind for you to clean up? Now you've wasted even more time as you have to clean the mess and then brew yet another cup. Secondly, how will you know which one is yours if multiple people in your office environment are waiting as well?
There are some useful features that could be developed over time, such as tying a phone number to a specific order. The machine would recognize your number, and the word "usual" would trigger your favorite coffee to be brewed.
In a corporate environment, Textspresso could be programmed to alert management when certain inventory was low, and show inventory patterns and trends with regards to drinks that sell well. It would definitely make it a more efficient working environment!
Zipwhip's CEO says that the point of this technology is to get people thinking about other uses for this texting technology. I mean, who hasn't thought about finding a better way to feed the cat while on vacation?