The green apron people just made a good move
March 21, 2008, 7:19 am
Filed under: coffee

Coffee geek post here. 

Starbucks announced on Wednesday that they are acquiring a Seattle coffee equipment company that makes a machine known as the Clover.  This small, funky looking gizmo is an innovative thing of beauty. 

What does it do, you ask?  It brews drip coffee . . . but it does it really, amazingly well.  It basically allows your barista to treat a cup of brewed coffee the way she or he treats a shot of espresso – with personal care. 

I don’t know what Starbucks’ operation manual will say, but having had coffee out of Clovers a few times at a few different places, here’s a non-technical view of how it works:

1. You choose your coffee – typically from a selection of coffees that are higher-end, and display more subtleties than you might be accustomed to in mass-marketed beans.

2. The barista grinds the beans on the spot, and pours the grounds into the machine.

3.  The machine comes to life, and the barista attends the brewing process the whole time.

4. A single cup of goodness comes out.

To put this in perspective, this combines all of the flavor richness that you would get out of the previous-best way to drink brewed coffee – the french press – but in much less time, and without the gritty sludge at the bottom of the cup (which, I will say I’ve heard some people lament as a downside to the machine).

I’ve seen different approaches to the use of the Clover.  Some shops only brew high-end beans – the kind you’d pay, say $17 per pound and up for.  That means really great coffee, but it also mean about a $4 or $5 cup of drip coffee.  Other shops basically do away with their large format brewers and only make one cup at a time, but do their normal selections, and a pretty normal price.

It will be very interesting to see how Starbucks rolls this thing out, what kinds of coffee they emphasize.  It’s a pretty significant move for them, given the Clover’s $11K price tag per machine, so it seems that they’re trying to back up the recent public statements about getting  back to focusing on the quality of their coffee.


2 Comments so far
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So does this mean you’re going to frequent Starbucks more often? Hopefully not at the expense of Trabant, Vivace, Zoka and all the other good cafes in Seattle 🙂

Comment by Michael

It will be interesting to see how it works out!

Hope the Northwest is treating you right. I will be there in July. Our state missions person has asked me to lead a team of students to work with Anchorpoint in Newcastle. Maybe we can get together and catch up.

Have a great week!


Comment by Morgan Owen

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