When is a Clover more than just a lucky charm?

We have just returned from a 3-day visit to Vancouver. For me, it was a chance to scope out the latest and greatest in cafe culture in the lower mainland.

Much to my surprise, the advancements since my last visit came as something of a shock.

Ok - so we know that there is some fabulous and World-class espresso to be had in the likes of JJ-Bean, Prado, the Elysian Room and all the Artigianos.

No question - the espresso keeps getting better.
The Elysian Room and Prado seem to be 'top of their game' with espresso.

The Artigianos seem so hot of their trail that the quality differences are virtually indistinguishable.

So - there is a new kid on town now. No, it is not another cafe. It is a method.

The Clover. It is a brewer. It is a single cup brewer. In the right hands (and the right coffee) it can produce a remarkable cup.

There are some words that I would like to toss around to describe my initial Clover experiences: stunning, shocking, humbling, challenging... I could go on and on about this.

The Clover could be the single most important development in the cafe tool-kit in years. I mentioned previously that the Aeropress is the single most significant development for the home or travelling coffee lover of the last 25 years. However hyperbolic, I stand behind this statement.

The Clover is a lot of different things for me. Let's discuss a few.

The challenge. I have been tasting coffee (and blending) since 1975. I consider myself an advanced amateur coffee cupper. I am blessed with a pretty good sense of taste. Some refer to super-tasting. I am not sure that I am quite there, but my buds are pretty good. The Clover has, in some ways, opened a portal to taste exploration that did not exist (for the consumer and taster) prior to this brewer. And to me.

The surprise. In the right hands (a skilled barista with fresh beans), the Clover can profile everything that the bean has to offer. In some ways, it seems to be able to enhance certain attributes or, if you do not mind, focus or amplify the best quality of the beans. It is also reveal tragic flaws in the cup.

My experiences. My first Clover cups have been at Discovery Cafe in Victoria under the auspices of Chef Sam Jones and his crack team of Victoria's best. Sam is learning the roasting game. He knows coffee. He now has a Synesso, a Clover brewer and a Mahlkonig coffee grinder. This is the best tool-kit for the coffee gourmet available.

His coffee and his usage of the Clover are a work in progress. All very good stuff.
The same goes for Cafe Artigiano in Vancouver. Their coffees are really progressing. Their Clover offerings are nothing short of inspirational.

Let's talk about the Elysian Room. Alistair Durie and his crew of talented and enthusiastic baristi are on the very leading edge of squeezing every last drip of flavor out of the coffee bean. I had two samples while there this last Friday - the Yirgacheffe and the El slavador Las Manadarinas.
I ordered the Yirg initially. With a date square no less. The taste and spectrum of the coffee floored me. There was just so much in the cup. Without asking, one of the barista brought over a sample of the El Slavador. This cup was oh-so-different from the Ethiopian. I should have taken notes. My bad.
The Elysian Room takes every coffee bean and knocks it out of the park. Prado and Artigiano are always hot on their trail.
There are lots of other great coffee places in Vancouver. The boys of the coffeecrew (located in Vancouver and Victoria need to do a marathon and report on them all. We promise. This will happen.

In summary. If you have not been Clovered, get Clovered. Get Clovered now.
Go to Artigiano on Hornby in Vancouver (across from the Robson media centre)
Go to the Elysian Room (West 5th and Burrard Ave - across from the BMW Dealership)

Coffee has taken a wild and bold step folks. We will be talking a lot more about single-origin, estate and co-op coffees folks. Talking lots. We will be talking about the cup-of-excellence as well. That is, as soon as I can learn something more about it.
Coffee is about learning. Life long learning. There is a lot to learn and these are exciting times.

Exciting indeed.

Colin Newell lives and works in Victoria, B.C. Canada. As the creator of the CoffeeCrew (formerly the Coffee Experts Group - circa 1994), he and the coffeecrew writers strive to educate and to make the education fun!