Starbucks’ Shiny New Shamrock

Starbucks’ Shiny New Shamrock

Listen… Hear that? . . . . . . That’s the sound of thousands of coffee retailers gasping for air, reeling from a sucker-punch. These are folks who’d aspired to get themselves a Clover… the commercial, cup-at-a-time coffee brewer that’s been described as the signal development to usher in the age of brewed coffee, the way to change how we think about brewed coffee, and — most earnestly — as a major point of differentiation between independent coffee shops and the behemoth that is Starbucks. These are folks who’ve just found out that Starbucks has decided to acquire the company that makes the Clover brewer. That’s right… Goliath just bought David’s slingshot. And that odd tap-tappity-tap noise you hear? That’s the sound of every single coffee retailer who has a Clover on order speed-dialing Seattle to see if they’ll still get theirs. But honestly, how could Starbucks Chairman and CEO Howard Schultz resist? After all, it was Howard who issued the much-leaked clarion call that railed against the commoditization of the “Starbucks experience.” Howard wanted romance; Howard wanted theatre; Howard wanted the smell of ground coffee to once again permeate Starbucks stores. And most recently, Howard showed us all he wanted a consistent experience, by shuttering every single retail Starbucks for a day to retrain its barista staff. The Clover brewer delivers all that — and most importantly — it delivers a really, really great cup of brewed coffee. Provided, that is, that you start with really great coffee beans. So far, the couple hundred Clover brewers in the market today can be found at boutique (call ’em Third...

More Voices, More Views, More Coffee

Some updating to ye ol’ Blogroll is somewhat overdue, at least so far as the college of coffee blogs goes. There’s lots of interesting new voices out there — folks who are pushing the envelope on roasting, brewing, pulling shots and delivering an over-the-top customer experience — and at the same time making some of the old-guard “coffee men” raise their eyebrows, first in alarm, and then in appreciation for what they find in their cup. Stephen Morrissey is barista trainer at Bewleys Coffee Co in Dublin Ireland, and his site — Flying Thud — documents his adventures in coffee. Lots of espresso porn, of course, but he’s also a fan of the drip. His posts will make you pine for European coffee shops you’ve never been to. Barrett Jones is a Canadian national barista champ and until recently worked the bar at Vancouver’s most excellent Caffe Artigiano. His site — Dwell Time — offers a glimpse of the extraordinary Vancouver coffee scene. Stephen Leighton’s blog — Has Bean — offers the perspective of a coffee guy who sources and roasts some fairly stupendous coffees, which sadly I know by reputation, only. (The reputation is certainly deserved: UKBC winner James Hoffman poured his way to the top of competition with a Has Bean custom blend.) Stephen’s been known to drop by here from time to time to offer an insightful comment or two. And last but not least — Barismo — a Boston based group blog contributed to by Jaime, Ben, Ben and Silas. Their writing spans coffee roasting, cupping and delivering a top-tier coffee experience in the coffee...

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