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Clover

PostPosted: Wed Oct 17, 2007 7:48 pm
by onocoffee
[Split from members only thread]

Esmeralda on a Clover?

I'm sorry, but all I can think of is: "that's a shame."

I recently was served the Best of Panama Auction Lot Esmeralda that was prepared with a Clover and unfortunately, it was a hollow representation of that coffee. The floral aromatics were there but the cup itself was watery, diluted and a disappointment compared to the contract-lot Esmeralda I pressed from Counter Culture.

Had I paid $22 for the Clover'd Esmeralda I tasted a few weeks ago, I would have been upset.

PostPosted: Wed Oct 17, 2007 8:09 pm
by Alistair Durie
brewing on a Clover is similar to pulling espresso as there is so much in control of the barista. the grind, the dose, the time, the temperature, the stir, the cleanliness of the machine... sound familiar?

PostPosted: Wed Oct 17, 2007 10:15 pm
by Mark Prince
The best esmeralda (auction lot) I've tried this year is by far and away in a weill prepared press. Second tops is a cupping. I did have some in a Clover (James' party at Elysian), and it was, as Jay said, a bit of a hollow shell of what it could have been. Mind you, the situation was less than ideal for brewing it on the Clover (I didn't say what the coffee was before the brewing, etc), but to be frank, I was was quite disappointed.

On the comparisons of wine / booze with coffee in terms of pricing in restaurants. First, I'm all for that. I think there should definitely be price ranges (and choice ranges) for coffee in restaurants. I fight for that. Its one of the topics I bring up with reporters quite often.

But I'm wary of anyone comparing a $25, 3oz glass of 30 year old tawney, or a $18, $20 15 year Redbreast with a $25 (or $18-$20) cup of coffee.

Taxes, folks. Taxes. Taxes at the place of purchase (liquor distributor). Taxes at the restaurant (what is it these days in BC? about 25, 30% total added to the overall initial price?).

To me, if you're going to engage any kind of price comparison, eg "you don't mind paying $15 for a glass of great wine, why not $15 for a great cofffee?" should in reality be "you don't mind paying $15 for a glass of great wine, why not $7.50 for a great coffee" is more apropos.

Mark

PostPosted: Thu Oct 18, 2007 12:46 am
by Ryan Willbur
To reference your disappointment in Esmeralda on the Clover, I think I understand where the problem lies...

We change our settings daily for every coffee we feature. It takes us a good 3-5 cups to really dial each SO. Sometimes more. So, with our average does in mind, we probably use around 190+ grams to dial in a coffee. With the Esmeralda, this could be a costly process...

Oh, and Rich, if it was our roast of Esmeralda, and they were using 42 grams of coffee... from what I have grabbed from the our experience (i.e. our water, grinder, etc.), they really should have used another 4 to 6 grams more...

PostPosted: Thu Oct 18, 2007 2:18 am
by Mark Prince
Ryan Willbur wrote:Oh, and Rich, if it was our roast of Esmeralda, and they were using 42 grams of coffee... from what I have grabbed from the our experience (i.e. our water, grinder, etc.), they really should have used another 4 to 6 grams more...


Geez. up to 48g of coffee? What are you brewing with that Clover? A 24oz mug? 32oz?

Mark

PostPosted: Thu Oct 18, 2007 4:57 am
by Rich Westerfield
Ryan Willbur wrote:if it was our roast of Esmeralda, and they were using 42 grams of coffee...


On a TV interview the number given was 42g. On a CG post it was 44g. So it's one or both of those two. Anyway, I didn't try it so no comment on the taste.

But I could definitely understand any shop's reluctance in dialing in a coffee that's around US $0.50/gram on a daily basis.

I was also a bit surprised to learn that the cost of roasted beans to the shop is exactly the same as the cost to the online consumer - in other words, no wholesale pricing or even a volume discount for several pounds? Seems that sort of defeats the purpose of having decent cafes prepare the coffee appropriately in order to sell more of said beans, no?

PostPosted: Thu Oct 18, 2007 7:04 am
by onocoffee
453.6gr = 1 pound

At a price of $198/pound, that's $ .44 per gram. And Ryan is saying they should have used 48 grams? Isn't that a cost of $21.12 per serving?

And that cost does not include shipping nor the cost of "dialing it in."

190 grams to "dial in" the Clover? Isn't that a cost of $83.60? I thought the Clover was supposed to help prevent waste and respect the value of the coffee?

Perhaps when you're the actual roasting company you can be this cavaliere with such an expensive coffee, but when you're paying $198 per pound and serving at $22 per cup, I find it hard to believe that anyone is willing to burn nearly a pound just to "dial it in" - especially when the results (compared to press) are not as impressive.

That said, I really can't imagine Doug Zell thinking that burning that much Esmeralda is "acceptable waste."

I should also note that my experience with Clover'd Esmeralda was notable because the barista preparing the coffee is one with exceptional skill and knowledge about coffee, is backed by a serious quality roaster and, presumably, knows the Clover very well. Had it been some random barista in some random shop and I had been served that same cup, I might have chalked it up to inexperience, but unfortunately that wasn't the case.

PostPosted: Thu Oct 18, 2007 7:40 am
by Kyle Glanville
... Actually, we're brewing ours in a Chemex to order.

16oz cup, 38g, and really quite tasty.

K G

PostPosted: Thu Oct 18, 2007 7:48 am
by Kyle Glanville
.... And, I should add, we used our new Kenya to help dial in the Esmo. After finding a nice setting for a 16oz Kenya brew, we swapped in the Esmeralda and it worked beautifully.

I don't think we're cavaliere at all with coffee weights and dosages, we're not at all afraid to charge a price that ensures a good prfit per cup.

PostPosted: Thu Oct 18, 2007 8:01 am
by Keith
Am I misunderstanding something? 42 to 44 grams for a 12 oz cup? Why? Is this common practice with the clover in general? Or just this Esmeralda? Ryans numbers for the chemex seem on the appropriate end of things. Does the Clover just eat coffee?


I ordered a quarter pound of the Esmeralda from somewhere and interestingly enough they sent me a half pound. A very expensive mistake or gift. Honestly, I was also disappointed in it compared to past years and felt that perhaps it was slightly overroasted. It lacked much of the sweetness and apricot notes of past years.

PostPosted: Thu Oct 18, 2007 8:30 am
by Mike Paras
Kyle Glanville wrote:... Actually, we're brewing ours in a Chemex to order.


Interesting- the Chicago Intelligentsias (at least downtown) offer it on the Clover.

PostPosted: Thu Oct 18, 2007 12:35 pm
by Ryan Willbur
Working with our coffees on the Clover... we've moved things around quite a bit from the beginning. We once believed 40 grams, 40 seconds, 200 degrees, and a "cone-filteresque" grind were a good starting point. Now, we lean towards a more coarse grind, higher temp, higher dose... with only the contact time to be the same. Once again... I said this is our experience... with our climate, our water, our coffee, and our grinder... That's been the number one lesson of the Clover for our company. What works in Chicago for our coffees, doesn't always work for us in LA. You really have to figure it out for yourselves...

I feel it important that I second what Kyle said about how we are pricing our coffee. Our costs are much more justifiable to our dose.

PostPosted: Thu Oct 18, 2007 3:39 pm
by Jeff Jassmond
This thread is so all over the place that I have tried to keep quiet, but I have to respond to some of the clover stuff.

It's such a new technology that none of us have any idea what we're doing. I look back at how I was using it 6 months ago and I'm ashamed, even though we were doing a damned good job then. What separates the good from the not so good is a willingness to play, and tweak and make mistakes.

It's a "draw a circle on Mars" situation, and I am impressed with what friends and peers are doing to develop technique to make coffee better with it. Is it perfect yet? No. Is espresso perfect?

Having said that, I am comfortable with the quality that comes out of every one of our clover brews if only because I know how much effort went into defining the parameters. I am sure others are doing the same. It's the obligation for anyone buying green coffee.

Jeff
ST X
97214

PostPosted: Thu Oct 18, 2007 6:49 pm
by Jason Haeger
Jeff Jassmond wrote:This thread is so all over the place that I have tried to keep quiet, but I have to respond to some of the clover stuff.

It's such a new technology that none of us have any idea what we're doing. I look back at how I was using it 6 months ago and I'm ashamed, even though we were doing a damned good job then. What separates the good from the not so good is a willingness to play, and tweak and make mistakes.

It's a "draw a circle on Mars" situation, and I am impressed with what friends and peers are doing to develop technique to make coffee better with it. Is it perfect yet? No. Is espresso perfect?

Having said that, I am comfortable with the quality that comes out of every one of our clover brews if only because I know how much effort went into defining the parameters. I am sure others are doing the same. It's the obligation for anyone buying green coffee.

Jeff
ST X
97214

I'm glad someone said something. Better you than me, I think.

I have to agree. The entire idea of Clover brewing is entirely too new for assumptions or absolutes in its regard.

PostPosted: Thu Oct 18, 2007 7:04 pm
by Andy Schecter
Rich Westerfield wrote: They're using 42g-44g on Clover for 12oz cup.


Those figures imply the Clover requires about twice the SCAA-recommended dose in order to brew a good tasting cup of coffee. Is that the approximate brewing ratio that shops use for their Clover? :shock:

PostPosted: Thu Oct 18, 2007 7:47 pm
by Mark Prince
Andy Schecter wrote:
Rich Westerfield wrote: They're using 42g-44g on Clover for 12oz cup.


Those figures imply the Clover requires about twice the SCAA-recommended dose in order to brew a good tasting cup of coffee. Is that the approximate brewing ratio that shops use for their Clover? :shock:


Completely derailing now, and just counting the minutes to a thread split... maybe this assumption is wrong, but it seems in this quest to keep the Clover's brew time under 1 minute, the volume of dose has gone up dramatically with a lot of shops (certainly not all).

Why is the 40, 45 second brew time seemingly so sacred, but the dose is all over the map?

Mark

PostPosted: Thu Oct 18, 2007 9:27 pm
by Ryan Willbur
Andy Schecter wrote:
Rich Westerfield wrote: They're using 42g-44g on Clover for 12oz cup.


Those figures imply the Clover requires about twice the SCAA-recommended dose in order to brew a good tasting cup of coffee. Is that the approximate brewing ratio that shops use for their Clover? :shock:


I'm willing to just come out and ask, is the SCAA the best place to reference? Gold Cup standard was developed how long ago?

PostPosted: Thu Oct 18, 2007 11:14 pm
by JaanusSavisto
Ryan Willbur wrote:
I'm willing to just come out and ask, is the SCAA the best place to reference? Gold Cup standard was developed how long ago?


do we have to throw something out just because it`s old? :roll:
I think the guidelines for filter brew in the gold cup programme are good to have as they point out parameters we should use to produce a good cup. We can alter some of them but eventually the margin of change is not that big and the water to coffee ratio stays about the same. Thus i can understand why Andy is surprised that we need twice the amount in clover when, in fact, we necessarily do not.

PostPosted: Fri Oct 19, 2007 3:58 am
by onocoffee
Mark Prince wrote:Why is the 40, 45 second brew time seemingly so sacred, but the dose is all over the map?


I wonder if "we" hold tight to that brew time because of Clover Hype?

When Clover was introduced two years ago, it was heralded as being the new "it" item that could replace drip by delivering french press "quality" with a "clean" cup, a wide variety of variables to control, and do all of that in under 45 seconds.

With this discussion, it seems that the trend Intelly L.A. is developing is to stay with that somewhat random brew time and keep adding more coffee until it tastes good. In this rush to "replace" drip with such an expensive machine, I wonder if everyone isn't blinding themselves to the realities of the clover.

It's expensive to buy and now it's looking even more expensive to operate. So much "control" that extensive training and "experimentation" seems mandatory.

Perhaps it's time to break from the mentality that Clover has to replace drip at all costs. Step back, experiment more and if the best flavor profile comes at 4 minutes, then roll with that.

Of course, I think people are afraid that they've spent $10,000 on a very grand and computerized French Press that could have been had for $35...

PostPosted: Fri Oct 19, 2007 7:00 am
by Ryan Willbur
Jay, there's so much more positive to the situation than that my friend... Yes, the Clover is still a big mystery at times... and maybe we should step back and go crazy. Someday, when we have a training lab to do so again, I'd love to! In the mean time, I know how the coffee we are pulling is tasting and it's pretty awesome most days. We are learning alot. But, there is still so far to go. We are growing as baristas thanks to the Clover... Nick and I have talked about how we go to other coffee bars and taste coffee, only being able to think that they need to increase their extraction time, or use more coffee, maybe even up their brew temp. We think Clover now.

But from a retail standpoint, the Clover is a gem. Most days we are able to offer 3 different SO's or blends on the menu, each dialed into perfection, each priced in a way that takes the price paid and quality into account. It's a beautiful thing. Yes, we could present this in another manner... but we do all this and still have it presented in a way that allows busy morning commuters to enjoy a beautiful pristine cup of coffee on their way wherever... I'm sorry, but this is not possible with press pot, chemex, or (my fav.) vac pot.

All in all, the Clover has opened way too many doors for me to talk about our coffee, the farmers, and what makes each origin special for me to over regret having the machines in our store. The intrigue on people's faces as they find out more about coffee is priceless, and the fact that they now are beginning to understand the seasonality of coffee and so on, to me that is something I will never regret.

PostPosted: Fri Oct 19, 2007 10:09 am
by Keith
Ryan I just dont get your suggestion to toss out the SCAA standards. I dont mean that those standards are a sacred cow, but I do know what 44 grams of coffee in a 12 ounce press would taste like. I guess im shocked to find out how much coffee that the clover sucks down and that is considered acceptable. I think Mark may have a point, why not longer dwell times? Is it because the idea is for it to be quick so that is not a option?

PostPosted: Fri Oct 19, 2007 10:51 am
by onocoffee
Ryan Willbur wrote:... the Clover has opened way too many doors for me to talk about our coffee, the farmers, and what makes each origin special...


Perhaps the most compelling reason for the clover yet.

Ryan Willbur wrote:The intrigue on people's faces as they find out more about coffee is priceless, and the fact that they now are beginning to understand the seasonality of coffee and so on...


I hear what you're saying but I'm hard-pressed to believe that this response from people is due to the clover. From my experiences, it seems that this kind of response is due to the passion, knowledge and enthusiasm of the barista rather than some technologically advanced machine.

If a barista knows the coffee, the processes, the farm/farmers and the seasonality of the coffee, then it seems that this passion is transferred to the customer regardless of the brewing methodology.

If we're saying that this is due to the clover then I think we're viewing this with improper goggles.

PostPosted: Fri Oct 19, 2007 11:53 am
by Ryan Willbur
Keith, I'm not opting to throw out the SCAA standard... but I'm not about to swear by it. I'm just saying maybe we should take another look at the Gold Cup and whatnot...

Jay, I understand your angle as well... What I believe the clover does is that it sets a stage for you to present on... This is something no fetco, bunn, or curtis brewer ever can be. It's not that I think the Clover is the only option and answer... I just absolutely hate auto brewers... Someday, when I am old and I am ready to slow life down a bit, I want to have a small shop... maybe the size of the annex... and serve coffee one way... in vac pots. It will be glorious!

PostPosted: Fri Oct 19, 2007 6:51 pm
by nick
Ryan Willbur wrote:Keith, I'm not opting to throw out the SCAA standard... but I'm not about to swear by it. I'm just saying maybe we should take another look at the Gold Cup and whatnot...

Have you taken a "first look" before you ask for "another look?" Do you know what the SCAA brewing standards are, and what they're based on?

I have no issue with people being contrarian, but know what the f*ck you're being contrarian against first.

Ryan Willbur wrote:Yes, we could present this in another manner... but we do all this and still have it presented in a way that allows busy morning commuters to enjoy a beautiful pristine cup of coffee on their way wherever... I'm sorry, but this is not possible with press pot, chemex, or (my fav.) vac pot.

You're absolutely wrong.

PostPosted: Fri Oct 19, 2007 10:13 pm
by Ryan Willbur
nick wrote:
Ryan Willbur wrote:Yes, we could present this in another manner... but we do all this and still have it presented in a way that allows busy morning commuters to enjoy a beautiful pristine cup of coffee on their way wherever... I'm sorry, but this is not possible with press pot, chemex, or (my fav.) vac pot.

You're absolutely wrong.


Nick, I'm referencing those who cannot wait 3 minutes for for their coffee to brew... Elaborate on where you are coming from.

I will, here, point out that with how I line works, we have the order for a brewed coffee from the customer, and by the time they pay, the coffee is generally either in their hand or pouring from the Clover spout...