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The $11,000 Coffee Maker Returns to Downtown

By Eric Richardson
Published: Thursday, January 28, 2010, at 06:11PM
Clover Eric Richardson [Flickr]

L.A. Live Starbucks employee Rafael goes through the rinse procedure for the store's new Clover machine.

When the $11,000 Clover made its Downtown debut at Groundworks in 2007, the high-tech machine was said to revolutionize drip coffee. The L.A. Weekly's Jonathan Gold said the brew was "closer to wine than it is to the murky fluids that emerge from Starbucks spigots."

The machine returns to the neighborhood on Monday, but this time it's at that very same chain that Gold disparaged. Starbucks bought the Clover company in 2008, and the L.A. Live store becomes the chain's first in Los Angeles to get the device.

While the machines haven't entirely disappeared from other shops since the purchase, they did become more scarce. Intelligentsia still features the machines at its Silver Lake and Venice locations and Cafe Corsa has one just south of Downtown at 23rd and Figueroa.

The Clover's secret is its vacuum-press technology, a combination of french press and vacuum pump brewing. Customers can choose from a variety of high-end, seasonal beans, each of which has optimal settings programmed into the machine. From grind to drip, the process takes place on a per-cup basis as the customer waits.

A tall cup from the Clover will run about $0.40 more than a similar-size pre-made drip coming in just under $2. Approximately a dozen different types of bean are available.

Los Angeles becomes the fifth city in which Starbucks has rolled out the machines, following Seattle, San Francisco, Boston and Miami.

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