Not that sort of Java

Back when we moved into our offices, I tweeted about the fact that we were all feeling itchy, snappish and antsy (like some dwarves who didn’t make the Snow White cut), because we weren’t able to make proper coffee in the office. Things were so bad, we had resorted to instant.

We didn’t get around to getting a machine – we’ve been kind of busy. Instead, we were spending far too much money at the nice Italian cafe across the road. And then, to our great surprise, a lovely, shiny bean-to-cup espresso machine arrived on the doorstep. It was a gift from an American company called Zipwhip, who are in the cloud texting business. Better still (and yes, we were surprised to discover that there is something better than a free coffee machine), they’d hooked it up to a Pi and a homegrown circuit board they’re calling Textspresso, which turned it into a connected cloud texting device. The Zipwhip folk sent us instructions on setting it up so we could send a text message to a phone associated with the machine when we were on our way into the office in the morning, and it’d grind some beans and make a coffee just in time for our arrival. Cloud texting, you see. It’s the caffeinated wave of the future.

And they sent us this rather brilliant video.

Here’s the machine (it’s the same one from the video) in situ at Raspberry Towers – picture taken this morning. Note the glamorous view we have of the car park.

It sees a lot of use, and yes, we really do keep it that clean. (Gordon is not allowed to leave in the evenings until he has done some judicious sponging.)

We’ve been using Rob B’s phone to control the machine: it’s him we send texts to when we want a coffee, and the message is forwarded via the cloud to the Pi in the machine. The Pi then texts the person who’s ordered the coffee to let them know when their drink is ready. (Thanks to the cloud, it can text us even though it’s not a mobile phone.) This works brilliantly, but we have found that if any of Rob’s friends sends him a text with the string “coffee” in there (“Hey Rob! Fancy meeting up for a coffee later?”) the coffee machine springs into action, and is prone to widdling all over the floor if we’ve forgotten to stick a mug under the outlet. Friends of Rob: a plea. Use email if you want to invite him out.

Zipwhip have made exhaustive instructions for adapting your own coffee machine available, so you can get coffee on your own carpet. (Seriously. We really need to get more regimented about leaving mugs under the thing, guys.)

Thank you so much, Team Zipwhip. We’re overwhelmed by your generosity, and you read us just right: coffee is an instantaneous and powerful way into our hearts. We raise our mugs to you.

Speaking of mugs, you can buy them in the Swag Shop. Go on. You know you want to.