We'd heard of the Clover system awhile back, and we've been hoping to try it, but until recently we were disappointed. There's only a handful at present, so they're hard to find. The Clover is a commercial machine, designed for coffeeshops to give patrons fresher coffee, one cup at a time, and to let people really experience the flavors of expensive blends. It's hard to take a chance on an entire pound of $30/pound coffee, but when it can be brewed by the cup you can evaluate it the way you'd evaluate a great glass of wine before deciding to buy a bottle. That's the marketing pitch from Clover's manufacturers to micro-roasters and high-end coffeeshops.
But the Clover's real benefit to coffee-drinkers is the way it combines French press and vacuum methods to produce one of the best cups of coffee we've had in a long time. We finally got our chance on a visit to Columbus, Ohio, where we made a serendipitous visit to Stauf's Roasters - an excellent roaster near downtown.
The (very animated) employee who was helping us pick out a couple pounds of fresh roasted coffee offered to let us try one particularly expensive blend, and that was when we noticed the sleek little Clover machine sitting next to the covered bins of beans. We were delighted, to say the least.
The resulting coffee had all of the flavor with none of the bitterness or sludge that so often gets into French press coffee, no matter how well you calibrate the grind or the brew. That "chewiness" wasn't there at all. But the flavor was excellent and deep - in fact, we could taste flavor notes in the coffee that we would usually never notice. The employee explained that French press coffee often leaves the best flavor sitting on the bottom, underneath the sludgy grounds. The Clover's "VacuumPress" method, however, creates a vacuum to draw the water down through the grounds, extracting flavor and yet leaving them behind.
Whatever the method, it was fantastic coffee. We think it's worth looking for a closer location to have a second cup. Have you tried Clover coffee yet? If so, what did you think?