Monday, June 22, 2009

clover™, Seven Seeds, Carlton

(note: the inventors of the clover™ insist that it should be spelt all-lowercase. I'll make sure to bold-ify it and add a trademark symbol so you can differentiate between a clover™ and a clover, be it four- or three- or seven-leaved.)

The clover™ grabbed my attention the first time I went to Brother Baba Budan. It was a shiny futuristic coffee machine that I'd never seen before, and it was operated with some sort of specialised whisk. The staff were such fans of it that the huge exploded clover™ diagram on the wall had equal prominence with the diagram of a coffee bean. Any new coffee machine out there that the BBB folk take as seriously as the coffee itself, it's worth investigating. The clover™ website I found that day said something about how the machine could connect to the internet, for auditing or some such purposes. A coffee machine that can write its own blog. How much more cred can this thing possibly have? The clover™ has since been bought out by Starbucks, and technical details are a little thinner on the ground on the Starbucks website, but there are still some gorgeous hi-res images of the whole process, whisk and all. A little closer to home, the St Ali blog had this to say:

The clover is basically a very stable platform to produce a brewed coffee similar to vacuum pot/french press. The boiler is PID controlled and the barista sets temp, brew time, grind, weight, and drink size. The cup quality is very clean with, I think, a beautiful highlight on the mid tones of coffee. Some coffees perform better than others and the roasting of coffee should be adapted to the style of brewing.

After reading all of this I still didn't really have much of an idea of what happens when somebody uses the clover™. For that, we have to turn to YouTube, and a very SWPL-looking (coffee, glasses, etc) guy from the SWPL-friendly Wired magazine.

So, with all that in mind, let's take a look at what I was served today at Seven Seeds. They have a separate menu of coffees that they brew in the clover™, and I went for the Ethiopian Aricha 14. I think. It came out served in what I would usually call a teapot. It's a pretty long drink, and the teapot lets you take your time without it cooling down too much.

I know my phone's camera gets terrible results, but you can still sort of tell what's going on in the cup. I've never really seen that shade of red-brown with that sort of translucency in a cup before. The same goes for the flavours: it was very complex. At first I thought my brain was just being tricked into thinking it was drinking tea, but it's just because I've never had that much stuff jump onto my palate at once via coffee. More power to the bean. It's a miraculous thing. The menu said the Aricha 14 was a "mixed bag of melons and hints of strawberry turning into cocoa" - it's nice to see "mixed bag" used as a positive thing. Come on, we all loved mixed bags when we were kids. You might get a banana, you might get some fizzoes, a few choc buds, a few snakes, you can't really lose unless you're not into black jelly beans. If you don't want a mixed bag, get a Redskin or a Toffee Apple.

So that's the clover™. I'm convinced. It's good to know that some nerds at Stanford can still totally reinvent the wheel like this.

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