I recently read Onward: How Starbucks Fought for Its Life without Losing Its Soul by Howard Schultz. Not bad reading all in all. Part of it talked about the new Clover machine, the first time I had heard about it, though it’s been around quite a while. I did a quick search and it turned out that there was one (one!) in Orlando at a location near me. Basically the machine takes fresh ground coffee and makes a cup of “real” coffee – not espresso. It’s an expensive machine, about about $10k, and it’s fun to watch. The coffee goes in, a spout pours in water, a cylinder goes up and down, magic happens, coffee is made and a big hockey puck of dry coffee grounds emerges from the top. Think very fancy French press. Here’s an article on how it works, but you’ll probably be more entertained by this video (shot at 7th and Pike in Seattle, how did I never see that?).
Worth $10k? I don’t know about that, but it seems like a smart play. It allows the store to brew one cup at a time, it’s fresh, and it’s mildly entertaining, at least more so than waiting on someone to pour coffee in a cup out of a carafe. I mostly drink decaf and it’s very common for them to stop brewing it after lunch, which means I have to wait, or drink Americano (which just ain’t the same). If they have a Clover I can get a fresh cup any time of day, with not too much of a wait. As far as quality I’m not a gourmet – it’s as good or better than normal brewed coffee and that’s good enough.