Something New Under The Sun: Clover

But what about me?” says you, a fan of fine, single origin coffees.” I mean… there’s oodles of cool new tools for the espresso-hound — PID temperature control, ever-more-fine grind control, bottomless portafilters, pressure-sensitive tampers — but what if I simply want a really great cup of brewed coffee?

It’s a fair question. If you think about it, there’s really very little that’s changed in coffee brewing gear for, what, a hundred years? Maybe two? The Turkish coffee pot, or ibrik , was used in the 6th century, and ruled coffee brewing for some 1300 years… Filtered drip coffee made the scene in the 1700’s when folks discovered that filtering their coffee with their cotton hose made it a little less crunchy. The Rumford drip pot came on the scene in 1800; vacuum pots were patented in the 1830’s, and their tippy (yet swanky) upgrade, the balance siphon, in the 1850’s. In the 1890’s early coffee percolators made the scene, but we really don’t consider them an advancement so much as a screaming retreat.

Closer to 1900 and you have the advent of the cafeolette press pot, or French Press (known, we understand, as the Freedom Press on Capitol Hill.) The Melitta paper pour-over filter was invented in 1912, largely eliminating socks from the role of coffee filtering medium… and in the 1970’s you get the first electric auto-drip brewers, pioneered by Joe DiMaggio — er, Mr. Coffee.

It’s only in the last few years that the needle has moved at all; Bodum revamped the vacuum pot with some spiffy electronics and a highly reliable filter, while Phillips, Nespresso and Keurig have taken their respective shots at single-cup brewed coffee via pods and sealed capsules. But these single-cup brewers, however convenient, don’t generally offer the flexibility that the modern coffee snob demands… that is, to brew any coffee under the sun.

It’s high time there were some real upgrades to brewed coffee. Maybe — just maybe — the Clover will shake things up a bit.

Unveiled this week at Coffee Fest in Seattle, the Clover is a commercial-grade single-cup coffee brewer that has clearly impressed some of the most demanding folk in specialty coffee on the left-coast. Say’s Victrola’s Tony (tonx to you and me), “The Clover… delivers flawless cup quality, with granular control of brew parameters from freshly ground coffee, and delivers with unbelievable speed.”

The brew cylinder is all stainless steel as is the filter mechanism. PID controls keep the water and brew environment at precise temperature. The elegant interface allows for granular creation and selection of specific brew profiles for multiple coffees. The brewing of the coffee is visible to the customer and at the end of the brew cycle you are left with a ring of nearly dry grounds swept away in a single stroke. It adds a bit of theater to the brew process, much like a melitta-style bar, but cleaner and far faster.

Did he say elegant? He did. Theater? Yup. He also tosses out bons mots like epic, and uncanny. It’s not only Tonx that’s impressed, but Chris Tacy, too. (Be advised that to find Tacy’s remarks on the Clover you’ll need to scroll past some tasty photos of Kees van der Westen’s sexy new single-group espresso machine… try to keep your eyes in their orbits, eh?)

The Clover. Sounds to me like it may be there’s something new — really new — under the sun after all.