Starbucks Clover Brewing System

Starbucks-Clover-Brewing-SystemNote: While Starbucks Clover® Brewing System is not a pour-over method, it is worthy of review here.

Visit a Starbucks and ask for pour-over coffee brew and you might be asked if you’ve heard of Clover (they are perfectly willing to make a pour-over for you). To the uninitiated, that might not even make sense, “Clover what?”. But give it a try, you’ll be happily surprised because the Clover Brewing System is an amazing thing.

I have never been Starbucks hater. I used to buy cappuccinos back in the eighties in the Pike Place Market. My experience walking into any independant coffee shop is not a guarantee of a quality cup. Starbucks for all its faults has stringent standards that all baristas must follow. And they now offer small batch coffees. (A review of some of the Reserve Coffees are forthcoming, stay tuned.)

Now Clover

Forget french press, take a break from drip and save pour-over for home.

My Barista humbly offered Clover and asked what type of bean I preferred, I chose the Sun Dried Ethiopia Yirgacheffe. It was ground and placed into an opening on the top of the Clover machine. The piston-like hopper lowered, a preset amount of water, at the correct temperature, poured on top of the grounds, then he gave it a stir. After about a minute of steeping the plunger came up creating a vacuum that drew the brew down and into my waiting cup. My initial thoughts were that it was quite nice tasting, and with no sediment, almost silky. I even had it black so as not to influence the taste in anyway. I am going to be ordering Clover instead of drip next time I visit Starbucks.

How it works

It’s not really a press, and it’s not pour-over. It’s a unique system combining a plunger and a vacuum. The Clover is a very expensive machine and only widely available at Starbucks but supposedly Ritual Coffee has a couple machines.

Here’s a video of the Starbucks Clover Brewing System:

Next time you’re at a Starbucks that has the Clover Brewing System, give it a try.

Stumptown Cold Brew Coffee

Stumptown Cold Brew CoffeeCold Brew Coffee? There’s nothing more refreshing than cold brewed coffee over ice for an afternoon pick-me-up.

The Stumptown Cold Brew is remarkably fresh-tasting. You’d expect something like coffee, that needs to be freshly brewed, to taste processed and maybe stale from a bottle. Not so with this cold brew. It tasted like, well, coffee! Happy surprise.

The Process

From the Stumptown site: “Cold brew”, also known as “cold press” or “toddy coffee,” is brewed without heat over a long duration. We craft our well-loved version by steeping freshly roasted coffee in room temperature water for over 12 hours, and using a double filtration process to procure the end result: a complex, smooth and sweet, full-bodied brew with bright juiciness, low acidity and a long chocolate finish.”

Where to find Stumptown Cold Brew Coffee

Stumptown Coffee Roasters Cold Brew is available at all their cafes, online and retailers like Whole Foods, Dean & Deluca as well as others, check their site for more locations.

Learn more at StumptownCoffee.com

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Stumptown Cold Brew Coffee table top by Mark LaPoint is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at poutovercoffeeworld.com.

Ceramic vs Plastic Coffee Drippers

plastic-vs-ceramic-coffee-drippers_300px

The fight was on. Which would prevail in a ceramic vs plastic coffee dripper tête à tête? But before the battle could commence, the TKO went to plastic! If you’re clumsy at all, a ceramic coffee dripper will not last very long. This beautiful Bee House Ceramic Coffee Dripper lasted exactly two days. While the steadfast 20+ year-old Melitta dripper survived to fight another day…until the replacement arrives.

The comparison was meant to pit the Melitta plastic coffee dripper
against a similar style ceramic dripper. POCW labs has a resin Hario V60, but the test would not have been accurate as the two drippers are vastly different in extracting method.

So while the ceramic filters available run a range of quality and style, plastic/resin drippers are limited to a couple of choices.

A call-out to Bee House, Bonmac and others.

Make resin versions of your ceramic coffee drippers! Hario has a very nice resin version of its V60 coffee dripper. While Clever Coffee makes a nice resin coffee dripper, it differs in method, by holding and steeping the coffee until the valve is released, it can’t be used for this comparison.

Ceramic vs Plastic Coffee Dripper

So which coffee dripper really won? Had the contest taken place, certainly the ceramic would have prevailed, as ceramic is like class, the glaze used on ceramic is actually glass, and would be 100% inert with the coffee in the pour-over extraction. While the Melitta is the granddaddy of pour-over there are better materials available that could be used in manufacture.

The winner is…

In the ceramic vs coffee dripper contest and despite the glaring flaw of being extremely fragile, ceramic wins! We were able to brew a couple of cups of pour-over coffee. We felt that we were drinking coffee pure and simple. Sorry plastic. Back to the cupboard with you. Well, at least, until your replacement arrives. We at Pour Over Coffee World are waiting for resin versions of their ceramic coffee drippers to do conduct a true head-to-head.

Paper vs metal coffee filter?

Hario v60 Filter PaperPaper vs metal coffee filter? Which is better, paper coffee cone filters? Or metal coffee cone filters? A lot can be said for each. Something can be said against each also. Taste is the best judge followed by convenience, method and other factors make choosing a personal decision. Here are some things to consider:

Metal cone coffee filters are reusable

A major selling point as well as the “purity” aspect, stainless and gold-plated cone filters are inert, meaning they do not chemically mingle with the coffee. For the pour-over coffee aficionado this is very important. What is not great is that coffee contains a considerable about of cholesterol that passes through the filter and into the cup. Think of a metal cone filter as a strainer. There is also the sediment left at the bottom of the cup that can affect the taste. The best choice is Able Brewing KONE 3rd Generation available from Amazon.
as well as Melitta and Medelco.

Paper cone coffee filters filter smaller particles

If you hate the last sip of your coffee to be a mouthful of bitter sludge, than paper is for you. Paper cone coffee filters capture the fine sediment that can collect. But you have to keep buying more filters.

There are many documented health benefits to coffee. Treating depression, (one possible reason why coffee is so popular in the Northwest), to diabetes and heart health. One drawback to drinking coffee is the cholesterol that coffee beans contain. The good news is that paper cone filters catch the cholesterol. There are a few good paper cone filter manufacturers, Hario and Melitta included.

Paper vs metal coffee filter:

  • Health vs. reusability
  • Inert vs. paper debris

In the end taste should win, if some sediment and a little extra cholesteral is a turn-off, then paper is the way to go. If reusability is important, metal. Either way you’ll end up with a nicely brewed cup of pour-over coffee.