The $12,000 brew

The Globe & Mail, May 26, 2007

Oh, the irony. First, we give up our regular cup of joe and embrace the world of espresso. And just when we can’t imagine life without our custom lattes, along comes the Clover, a high-tech gadget poised to launch a drip-coffee revival.

Born in Seattle, the $12,000 Clover looks like a water cooler crossed with an iMac and functions like a cross between a French press and a vacuum pot. What makes it unique is that it allows every element of coffee making (brew time, water temperature, coffee-to-water ratio) to be controlled with amazing precision.

In the hands of a talented barista, the Clover creates, in less than a minute, a beverage that visitors to websites such as Coffeegeek.com are calling “flawless.” No unpleasant aftertaste, no sourness – just smooth, complex coffee brewed to extract the beans’ true potential.

So far, there are less than 20 Clovers in Canada, and about 150 worldwide.

“It’s exciting that brewed coffee is finally getting the respect it deserves,” says Alistair Durie, the owner of Elysian Coffee, a boutique café in Vancouver. His is one of the first shops to replace its drip-coffee urns, replaced with a selection of Clover-brewed cups laid out on a menu akin to a wine list.

A cup of the rare Ethiopia Yergacheffe Aricha No. 7, for instance, is $4.25, and described as tasting of “creamy peaches and blackberry jam.”

Tracey Clark, owner of Bridgehead, a chain of organic, fair-trade coffee shops in Ottawa, recently installed a Clover in a downtown location.

Recouping the hefty investment isn’t likely, Clark says. “It’s like the really good cheese in your grocery cart. You throw it in and try not to notice how much it costs.”

To purchase a Clover, call 604-839-1210.

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