I had my first cup of coffee from the semi-famous $11,000 Clover machine today. (Cafe Grumpy, Park Slope.)
I actually didn’t like it. The bean, a Yirgacheffe, had a bit too much of an earthy, almost dung-like flavor and scent that tasted slightly offensive and left a long-lasting, unpleasant aftertaste. Obviously, this could be improved by using a different bean or roast and isn’t the Clover’s fault.
But, ignoring the poor bean choice, I wasn’t incredibly impressed by the brew. It was certainly a lot better than the average Starbucks (or worse) drip brew, but I’ve had better coffee from roasters (which Cafe Grumpy is not, and I don’t know how old their beans were) brewed in standard commercial satellite drip pots.
The Clover seemed to extract more body from the beans than a French press, but less than a vacuum pot, with less flavor strength than a commercial drip brewer. The short brew time may be to blame: the entire brew cycle takes a bit over a minute, and I prefer press or vacuum coffee to be brewed for 2-4 minutes.
While it seems that the Clover offers decent quality with short brew times, which is convenient to keep customers’ orders moving quickly, it doesn’t seem worth the cost: a good roaster can make amazing coffee with a standard Bunn drip pot that takes far less labor, is easier to maintain and repair, and costs a lot less than $11,000.