Clover Sale to Starbucks

I've mentioned the Clover coffee system here once or twice before. It's the $12,000 coffee maker that a guy I know through BBTC invented. Well, it sounds like he just sold the business to Starbucks.

Lengthy article in the Seattle Times about it today.

I'm a huge fan of the Clover coffee system. It allows the barista to make coffee one cup at a time almost like a french press but it's partially automated while allowing for specific temperature and time controls. The coffee that comes out is superb. Unfortunately, the only place close to us with the Clover is the Zoka Coffee shop here on Snoqualmie Ridge and I had to stop going there. Not because I prefer the Starbucks across the street, but rather because of the staff.

Kristin and I went into Zoka a good month or two ago. Unbeknownst to us they were closing in 10-15 minutes (it was only 5:45 on a Saturday). We each ordered a large mug of Panamanian coffee brewed with the Clover at about $4.50 a cup. We had our laptops with us and were going to spend an hour or two enjoying the coffee and getting some work done.

Yes, this is how we roll on Saturday nights.

Anyway, it takes a few minutes for each cup of coffee to be made so we had time to set our stuff up at a table and start to get some work done. The coffee was done, served in large ceramic mugs, and we nestled into the chairs and resumed working. Ahhh...

Not two minutes later the guy behind the counter tells us they're closing in a couple minutes and we have to leave. We just got our giant steaming-hot mugs of coffee in for here cups that we paid nearly ten bucks for and now he tells us we have to leave? Now he tells us they're closing at 6pm? Couldn't think to mention that fact when we were ordering the coffee?

I worked in enough restaurants and coffee shops when I was younger to know that when closing time comes, you simply turn away new customers but you let the ones already there finish enjoying what they bought. It's not like we would have camped there for an hour if the store was closed.

I was angry, but in hindsight I should be thankful he even knew how to use the Clover. Half the time I've gone there and ordered a mug, the barista working had no idea how to use it or they didn't have any beans for it, except for the uber-expensive ones that costly about $9 a mug. No thanks.

I don't get it. There are those of us who actually make an effort to support the independently-owned shops when possible. Yet, with a few exceptions like the awesome Uptown Espresso near Kristin's office in Seattle and the Zeitgeist coffee shop near Qwest Field, this plan always seems to burn me. And for one reason only: the staff. I don't get it. Zoka has (or should I say had?) the advantage over Starbucks with the Clover. As much as I enjoy a strong americano from Starbucks, it doesn't compare to the Clover coffee. But Zoka ruins it by hiring morons. And the shop that was in that space before Zoka had the same problem. Starbucks is literally right across the street from Zoka and seems to have no problem hiring friendly, polite staff. For chrissakes, they're hiring from the same teenage & twentysomething applicant pool -- we're a town of 5,000 after all!

But if the Clovers are going to start popping up in the Starbucks stores, then that's fine by me. At least I know they won't chase me out of the store after giving me the mug.

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