Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Clover Field Test

Over the weekend I did a little piece on Starbucks as a leading indicator for the broader economy. In the course of the piece, I mentioned SBUX's acquisition of the company that makes Clover coffee machines--space-aged contraptions that brew individual cups of super-premium coffee. How super-premium are we talking? The machines are $11,000 each and the coffee they make sells for about $4 a pop. For regular coffee.

In any case, in March of 2008, shortly after the Clover machines debuted, SBUX bought the company which produces them. The idea at the time was to put a Clover in every SBUX, ramping up the company's luxury status. Events have since rendered this idea impractical. Almost a year later, only 51 SBUX stores have a Clover.

All of this is prelude to saying that this weekend I found a small, independent shop which bought a Clover machine before SBUX scooped up the franchise. And I bought a cup of the $4 coffee. And while it was good, even pretty good (I had a Guatamalen light roast) it wasn't worth more than $2.50 and didn't measure up to Misha's Caravan Blend, which is the reference coffee for Washington, D.C.

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