Steve J. Moore

Way to the Heart Through the Clover?

In Food on August 4, 2008 at 12:08 pm

So I finally subscribed to Wired in an effort to compete with all the junk mail that counts for clutter rather than suitable coffee table fare. I mostly read their stuff online which is identical to the printed version, but I figure that I can contribute just a few dollars to the dying world of print media. I figure they will at least eventually find a home in the basket by my couch that’s currently filled with English journals I never made it around to reading and my wife’s copies of Dance Teacher (which I’ve long since read).

On to the point Steve, COFFEE. Wired did an article on the perhaps-as-doomed-as-printed-media Seattle giant Starbucks’s latest comeback effort. Posted under “The Coffee Fix,” the article is curiously titled “Can the $11, 000 Clover Machine Save Starbucks?” Given the current economic situation, most American’s are cutting back on $6 latte drinks and switching to straight cocaine caffeine. Starbucks is now on a soul-search leading back to its roots in the art of brewing coffee as opposed to selling overpriced knick-knacy crap and heart-devouring breakfast sandwiches.

Can Iron Man a mere machine save the jolly green giant from a further tumble from grace? A part of me does hope so. Then again, part of my love for coffee rises out of my love for the environment in which I can enjoy a good brew. Often that means small local places here in Springfield “The New Portland,” MO like The Coffee Ethic. The Mudhouse is another of my favorites, but I am neglecting them here for one thing they currently (and will forever) lack:

The Clover Machine.

Now, as much of a gadget fan I am, I’m no glutton. I don’t support spending money on things I don’t need simply because they are “the best,” but here before you you have the single greatest gift to coffee of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. I’ll rip this description right from Wired themselves

Clover, From the Grounds Up

Clover looks like just another countertop coffee machine. But peek under the hood and you’ll find an innovative brewing system. Here’s how it works: 1. A barista selects dose, water temperature, and steep time. 2. A piston pulls down the filter platform while freshly ground coffee is poured into the chamber. 3. Hot water flows into the chamber. 4. The barista briskly stirs the grounds with a whisk, and the water and beans steep for several seconds. 5.The piston rises, creating a vacuum that separates the brew from the grounds, then lowers, forcing the joe out of a nozzle below. 6. The piston rises to the surface again, pushing up a disc of grounds, which are squeegeed away.

What’s that you say? Too lazy to read it all? Ok, I’ll link to the Wired article directly here. Ok, seriously? Too lazy to hit that link? My page is just that riveting? Fancy graphic below:

All-in-all, I have to say that a cup of Clover made coffee is better than any I’ve ever had. The Coffee Ethic is one of only a handful to get a Clover before Starbucks snapped the company up in what some might say an anti-competitive fashion. I can’t decide how I feel about all this yet, part of me is singing the evil corporation waltz in my head, but another more optimistic part of me says that Starbucks is doing a good thing by putting these changes into place. They do want to continue making money after all, and brewing better coffee is a good place to start.

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  1. Personally, The Coffee Ethic was a bit of a turn-off for me. Compared to the Mudhouse, they seem overpriced for less quantity, and it’s hard to beat Mudhouse quality.

    Though anymore, I prefer to just brew coffee at home and stay in. Cheaper, and when I combine Eight O’Clock coffee with Coffee Mate French Vanilla liquid creamer, there’s nothing tastier in the whole, wide world.

  2. Heh, I hear that, but if you want to enjoy the unbridled power of the Clover, you can only do so at TCE. I do like just about any kind of coffee anywhere anytime though, and being at home is comfy for sure 🙂

    I have been a big Mudhouse advocate for a while, and they are still my favorite place to buy beans, stop for lunch, and go with friends. However, TCE is usually less crowded and has free outlets for my lappy and all of their coffee is bottomless. If you pay $3.50 for their “single origin” coffee then you get house refills for free.

  3. Too bad that anymore, the Mudhouse is too “in.” They do have an amazing selection of coffees, though they just keep black coffee in those portable brew spouts that just sit there all day, getting cold and stale. Coffee Ethic is always fresh.

    The Clover machine has many benefits: it makes one cup at a time, so you can choose your beans rather than submit to whatever is brewing. The brew that comes out is somewhere between drip and a french press, but is entirely different in its flavor palette. French Press enhances all flavors because there is never a filtering process. All the oils remain with the brew. The Clover tends to bring out a lot of the citrus and fruit qualities in coffee that are often much more toned down.

    The best way to enjoy coffee is simply to use a french press. But if you cannot do that, use a drip and grind your coffee on a slightly finer setting than medium. This will allow much more flavor to pass through the filter; you will have a richer cup than autodrips typically offer. I recommend getting a burr grinder, if you’re willing to spend around 50-100 bucks. Burr grinders utilize gears that smash up the beans rather than chopping them. You get a much more consistent grind that way.

  4. Unfortunately, I’m simply a blended-coffee drinker, so I’m not able to take advantage of this wonderful-sounding machine (although it does make me want to head to Starbucks for the second time today).

    Then again, I am heading to Chicago, so I’m sure I’ll warm up to hot coffee very soon (forgive the pun).

  5. I’m not really that into coffee (but I do understand that most of America seems to thrive on it) because I’ve never really liked the taste, even when saturated with cream and sugar. However, I have discovered that an Energy-branded Naked juice in the morning does help me wake up and is *actually* delicious (as opposed to coffee which just isn’t). I haven’t compared prices but if $6 latte is actually how much Starbucks charges (nay, plunders) then my $3.50 Naked juice definitely wins.

  6. Also, as a side note, you should find some way to get markdown or a similar lightweight template engine to apply to the comments (i.e. a way for me to make fancy strikeouts and bolds). Unless HTML already applies in which case ignore me.

  7. Thanks Drew, I am definitely still getting used to WordPress. I am eventually going to do more with it so HTML comments for the savvy are possible. Currently my free account strips them *shakes fist* I am researching better ways for sure.

    Also, Naked Juices are very tasty I will agree with you.

  8. LOL -I didn’t know Springfied MO was the “new Portland. Love it!

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