How the Clover Coffee Maker Works

Making Clover Coffee

Inside a Clover coffee maker
Inside a Clover coffee maker

You might have gotten the idea that the Clover is an unattractive mix of pistons and valves, but it's a sleek-looking machine that makes coffee brewing pretty fun to watch. The Clover, despite the snazzy VacuumPress Technology and PID controllers, still needs the help of a gifted barista. Let's look at how Clover coffee is brewed, from start to finish.

We're not starting with instant coffee with a Clover, as we mentioned before. Likely, the café customer has a few whole beans to choose from, and hopefully, a knowledgeable barista to guide the choice. Let's say the customer picks some beans from Kenya and would like an 8-ounce cup of coffee. The barista will likely have a tip sheet, fine-tuned by Clover and the coffee shop owners, which will contain the Clover specifications that will produce the best cup of coffee with this bean. On the front of the Clover is a knob that allows the barista to change the settings, plugging in the cup size, the time that the coffee should brew and the temperature of the water.

The barista doses, or measures, the beans, and then grinds them fresh. Human error or a faulty grinder could actually screw up the perfect cup of coffee that the Clover promises. The size of the grind affects how much flavor can be extracted. It varies from bean to bean and is dependent on how long the coffee will brew.

When the coffee is ground, it's poured into the brew chamber at the top of the machine. As we mentioned in the last section, this is basically a filter atop a piston. Behind the brew chamber is a water boiler, and the water pours from a spigot into the chamber. The barista stirs the mixture, ensuring that the ­grounds are thoroughly moistened. This is the other step where human interaction can affect the taste of the coffee; debates rage on barista message boards about the best way to stir the grounds. The stirring ensures that the grounds are completely wet and helps to extract the flavor from them.

Then the brewing begins. What someone can see from the outside is the top of the bubbling coffee rising and falling, but as we learned in the last section, pistons are rising and falling, grounds are being pushed up and coffee is being sent out through the valves. The whole thing is over before you know it -- brewing takes about 40 seconds [source: Clover]. Up top, the grounds form a cake that can be easily wiped into the waste bin at the top of the machine.

Quick brewing and easy cleanup are two of the selling points of a Clover, especially in comparison to the more cumbersome French presses and vacuum brewers. But even if you love your French press or vacuum brewer, the Clover is set apart by that ability to regulate so many different factors of the brewing process. Once you figure out the temperature and time that produce your favorite cup of coffee, you can replicate that experience over and over. No more having to chalk a bad cup of coffee up to accidentally overheating the water or allowing it to steep too long. For every type of coffee bean that exists, the Clover has specifications that bring out the best in it, every single time.

We keep talking about Clover's ability to make the perfect tasting cup of coffee, but what are you supposed to be tasting? Why does it matter if you brew a coffee from Kenya differently than you brew one from Sumatra? On the next page, we'll get a taste of what's going on with coffee beans.