Editor's note: Jim Caroompas is the editor of Walnut Creek Patch, and he tried out a cup of Clover-made coffee at one of the Walnut Creek Starbucks. (That's where the short video was shot.) His report is below. Locally, the Starbucks at 3347 Lakeshore Ave., Oakland, has the new machine. Have you sampled Clover coffee there?
There is a coffee brewing revolution in the works, according to Starbucks. It's called the Clover, and it doesn't look like a revolutionary device. But the company promises the machine is an innovation the likes of which only rarely comes along. The cups of coffee it produces are priced accordingly.
According to the company's Web site, the Clover uses a vacuum technology and precise temperature control to extract the maximum flavor from the beans. The process doesn't involve the kind of steam-driven white noise that espresso machines make.
These Clover machines are rare enough throughout the Starbucks empire. But Walnut Creek is fortunate to have two locations with them - 1340 N. Main St. and 7000 Sunne Lane.
Coffee is not the simple drink it was a few decades ago. These days, there are more styles and brands and flavors than most other beverages. So it is not unreasonable to approach the claims of the Clover with a skeptical palate.
But to this jaded set of taste buds, the promise was fulfilled. Choosing for this experiment Jamaican Blue Mountain beans, the Clover process turned out a hot, black cup of perfection. I don't know about the advertised citrus overtones or chocolate finish; that talk is for wine experts. I do know that the flavor was rich and intense, and never lost its appeal. It was indeed something special.
Have you tried a Clover coffee? It's about a dollar more than a regular brew, partly due to the process, and partly due to the fact that a lot of the Clover offerings use limited-edition beans like Jamaican Blue Mountain (which is priced at $30 for a half-pound).
Do you think brewing innovations like this are exciting, or just a way to increase already-high prices for what is, in the end, a cup of coffee? Tell us in the comments.