There are a myriad of different ways to brew coffee -- percolate, drip, french press. But a machine now owned by Starbucks could become the gold standard of the coffee brewing elite.
It's a Clover and costs up to $11,000.
The machine, whose company was bought by Starbucks in 2008, has been cropping up in some of the chain coffee shop's stores since but has largely remained under the radar, except perhaps among the most particular of coffee connoisseurs.
Here's how the system works:
The Clover brewing system uses innovative Vacuum-Press™ technology to create your cup right in front of you. You watch as a stainless steel filter lowers into the brew chamber. Hot water is added at a precise temperature to brew your coffee for an ideal length of time.
The Clover brewing system controls brew time and temperature digitally, as even small changes here can dramatically affect the outcome you taste in the cup. A thermal blanket surrounds the brew chamber to keep water within 1 degree Fahrenheit of the ideal temperature.
After the coffee brews, it is pulled through a 70-micron filter. The resulting grounds are pushed out of the top of the machine. The coffee itself flows into your cup – hot, aromatic and amazingly flavorful. We’re pretty sure it will be the best cup of coffee you’ve ever tasted.
Although this looks like a personalized, flat brownie that should come with your coffee, it is actually the used grounds that are then scraped away after use. (Photo: Lars Plougmann/Flickr)
But that's just the machine. The barista preparing the beans and aiding in the brewing process is integral, as this Starbucks demonstration video shows:
Wired took an in-depth look at the Clover a couple years ago as well:
But does all this technology and fanfare actually make a better cup of joe? SlashGear reported that although it is "something of a spectacle," it does allow "for a huge range of coffee flavors to emerge."
"The general report from Clover drinkers is of exceptional clarity, with the delicate complexities of different coffees becoming clearer when made with the machine," according to SlashGear.
Ultimately though, it's the beans that truly matter to the flavor. Last year, Jimmy Kimmel was able to trick people in a taste test of what was supposed to be a special roast by Starbucks brewed only through a Clover -- Kimmel's tested used neither the Clover nor the special roast.
(Photo: Premshree Pillai/Flickr)
The reason why you might not being seeing more of these machines in your local Starbucks, SlashGear reported, is due to the time using one puts on baristas in the fast-paced cafe that people have come to expect.
But Starbucks recently put out a patent for new technology that could change that:
A system for brewing a desired portion of a beverage, such as a single-cup portion of coffee, is provided. The system may have more than one brew module. The system allows a user to quickly and easily brew a variety of types of single-cup portions of a beverage. In some embodiments, the system may brew a single-cup portion of coffee in a relatively short period of time based on a combination of certain parameters. The system may include an automatic cleaning mechanism such that a user does not need to manually clean components of a brewing machine between brew cycles. The system may also include apparatus configured to substantially prevent steam from reaching grinder components of the system. The system may also include apparatus configured to provide a precise dose of material based on, for example, volume of the material. Methods and apparatus for brewing a beverage are also disclosed.
As SlashGear put it, this "super-auto Clover takes charge of all stages" of the coffee-making process that might have required more personal involvement by the barista before. What's more, brewing on a more cup-by-cup basis, if still fast, could save the company money in the long-run as the coffee held in its large carafes is often dumped when past a couple hours old.
Only time will tell if this more advanced system will come to fruition and make a buzz in coffee-loving America.