Spanish automaker Seat will offer an espresso machine for every car it sells

It has come to this: Seat now offers an espresso machine that fits in the cup holder of every car it sells. No, really. An espresso machine. It costs $208.

We find this ironic, given that self-righteous Europeans once mocked Americans for being so uncouth as to drink or, worse, eat in their cars. Porsche, for example, only had a suggestion of a cupholder for its cars that extended out of the dashboard like some sort of robot arm. Every time we use one, we hear a German-accented engineer muttering, “It’s a car, not a cafe, dummkopf.”

U.S. automakers have a long history of making drinking a cup of Joe or wolfing down a burger while driving convenient. As far back as the 1960s they put nifty cup-shaped indents inside the glovebox lid so you’d have a place for your soda pop at the drive-in. And of course it was an American automaker who came up with the brilliant idea of putting cupholders in their cars.

Everyone else slowly came around, and now you find cupholders in pretty much everything. Even the McLaren 720S has something resembling one (even if it’s useless). Spanish automaker Seat just upstaged them all.

Handpresso coffee-making device

It asked Handspresso, the French manufacturer of portable espresso makers, to create a brewer that fits neatly in the cup holders between the front seats of every current Seat vehicle. The machine uses the car’s 12-volt accessory port to dispense 1.7 ounces of piping hot espresso in less than three minutes. It uses those ubiquitous plastic pods, and comes with two cups and a carrying case that fits in the glovebox.

Anyone willing to pay $208 can buy the device at any Seat dealer. Given that cupholders tend to be universal, we’d bet it fits in just about anything. Seat says its calculations show drivers can save more than $2,300 a year on coffee, not to mention waiting in line while that guy in front of you gets his triple venti half-sweet non-fat caramel macchiato.

Beyond the convenience of having coffee anytime you want it, this gadget just might save a life or two. The British Automobile Association says 20 percent of accidents are caused by sleepy drivers. It recommends taking a break every two hours and enjoying a cup of coffee before getting back on the road.

Using the Handspresso is a whole lot more convenient than installing a commercial espresso machine in the back of your VW microbus like that guy I once saw at a Grateful Dead show.

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