So everyone is asking me why I'm all excited about the Clover.
I start getting worked up about it - I try to explain and people look at me like I'm insane.
So I'm going to try and explain.
Right now I see a huge problem in the coffee world. Actually, I see tons but we'll focus for now on this one.
Coffee is seen as a commodity.
This is incredibly significant.
Let me explain.
Right now, to most people, coffee is coffee is coffee. As long as it's dark and strong and has caffeine it's good. There are some people who are "into" coffee and for them there is a little more focus and understanding. For them, there is an appreciation of the difference between (for example) coffee brewed as drip and coffee brewed in a French Press. Or for the difference between Colombian coffee and Indonesian coffee.
But these people are a minority - a small minority. And even among these people, there isn't really a clear grasp of the idea of there being a difference between (for example) a bourbon grown in Brazil and a bourbon grown in Bolivia much less an appreciation of the difference between one year's harvest and the next or the difference the terroir of a specific micro-region can create or the differences between various processing methods.
We are not yet at the stage wine is at.
None of this is helped by the current options available for preparing brewed coffees.
Nothing could be more frustrating (IMHO) than to spend a ton of time and money and energy to source the best green beans around, roast them with care and then stick them in a big old drip brewer. And it sits... So customers are tasting a poor imitation of the coffee that has been the focus of such care and effort. This just seems profoundly disrespectful to me.
Honestly, I'd rather not serve brewed coffee than serve it from a drip brewer.
And the consumers taste this coffee - with its muted and muffled varietal and terroir differences; with its destroyed aromatics and its boosted body and its bitter alkaloid bite. Is it any shock that they don't appreciate the differences between bourbon and pacamara? Between cherries picked by hand at their peak and those mechanically bulk harvested? Between perfectly roasted and slightly scorched?
Is it any shock that they don't see the value in coffee as something other than a commodity?
And this is why I'm so excited by the whole Clover thing. It would give consumers a chance to experience the coffee brewed at a coffee bar in a manner that was not a significant degradation of quality. Is it as good as when it is cupped? Of course not. Would the results be better than if you took the same beans home and immediately, with care and experience, made a Vac Pot from them? No. But it is, IMHO, the best way to currently prepare high quality brewed coffee in a retail environment. I prefer the cup quality to what you get from a Melitta bar and it's far less messy and labour intensive than that option. I find the cup quality similar (in quality, not flavour) to press pot, and it's far less labour and time intensive and less messy than that option.
And I love the idea of offering the consumer a choice. They can have any of the coffees - brewed to order - right then. That, to me, really changes the dynamics here. It starts (finally) really moving us away from the whole "coffee is coffee; coffee is a commodity" thing. It really creates in the mind of the consumer the idea that coffees taste different from eachother.
And perhaps most of all - it treats the coffees with respect.
For me - If I were running a roaster/retailer I'd build my business around a Clover and a high-end espresso machine. This would allow me to showcase the coffees - and would (IMHO) translate into better whole bean sales and better customer retention as a result.