Starbucks is reputed to be testing the Clover coffee brewing system in several stores.
The Clover is described as an automated reverse French press. Although, at around $11,000 a pop, this innovative coffee brewing system is a bit more expensive than a typical coffee press.
The invention of Zander Nosler, co-founder and president of the Coffee Equipment Company which manufacturers the machines, the Clover was first introduced about four years ago. There are now about 200 in use at specialty coffee houses in the US and Canada.
Clover Coffee Machine Demonstration
The Clover is a single cup brewing system that automates the function of a French press, and gives the barista precise control over all four variables of the brewing process; water temperature, coffee grind, coffee to water ratio, and the brew time.
Intended for commercial use, the full cycle time to produce a cup of coffee is about 75 seconds. The result is a precisely controlled, near perfect coffee extraction, similar to a French press, but in much less time.
A French press will take, on average, about 4 to 5 minutes to steep and brew several cups of coffee, and is not a very practical method for a busy commercial establishment to produce a brewed-to-order single cup of coffee. Another important efficiency factor for a commercial operation, cleanup of the expelled coffee grounds after brewing with a Clover is much easier and faster than with a French press.
If you like to dump milk and sugar into your coffee, the refinement of the Clover brewing system is a nuance that will most likely escape your appreciation. And, at between $2.50 and $3.00 for a cup of coffee brewed with a Clover, you’re not likely to see the value in spending the extra money.
But for coffee drinkers that are refining their palates, the Clover is an effective and complimentary brewing method that can really bring out the unique and distinctive tastes and flavors of the more exotic specialty coffees increasing in popularity today.
Starbucks has an initiative underway to renew the higher-end quality coffee experience and attempt to recapture some of the customers who have begun to stray. An effort to refocus on the core business and make it “more about the coffee”.
Apparently, deploying the Clover coffee machines at several pilot stores, including a few stores in Seattle, is some of this current testing underway. Supposedly, the stores with a Clover will also offer more exclusive beans than what is normally available at a standard Starbucks store.
Of course, as we would expect from Starbucks, they have coined another Starbucks-ism and will refer to the Clover machines as a “Fresh Press“.
Whether or not the Clover will draw the customers in, good for Starbucks for making the effort to raise the bar.
I know I’ll be curious to try a cup from a Clover when it comes to a Starbucks in my neighborhood.