I was initially lured into Blanche Dael, the oldest coffee grinder in Maastricht, by the teapots and old-timey coffee roaster in the windows. The main room offered a typically overwhelming selection of teas, accoutrements and packaged sweets, but the back room beheld a treat: a Clover.
I’ve seen a few Clovers in New York. These cultish machines are for die-hard coffee geeks only. The machine brews one cup at a time, and the allure is its programmability; water dose, extraction time and temperature are fully controllable so as to maximize beans’ characteristics. The actual brewing mechanism is similar to a French press, but inverted and powered.
Each Clover is made to order. Or was, rather, before Starbucks bought the company in 2007 and subsequently halted distribution to non-Starbucks shops. Although the machines can now be found in many U.S. Starbucks, there are only about 250 of the originals in existence worldwide.