This week Willamette Week (Portland, OR) reported on a new coffee maker — one that has been getting a ton of buzz in coffee aficionado circles — now in use at Portland’s Stumptown: Willamette Week Online | Post: ‘Holy Platinum Percolators! Stumptown’s $11,000 coffee makers’.

Made by Clover of Seattle, the uniqueness of its design is in providing custom time and temperature control that accentuates the unique properties of origin coffees on a per-customer/on-demand basis — something not easily done in a high volume retail environment. It apparently melds the properties of a French press and a vacuum pot. One of my favorite cafés in the world, Caffè Artigiano of Vancouver, BC, for example, has started using a Clover to brew their record-breaking Brazil Cup of Excellence coffee.

The Clover 1sI don’t know of any Clovers in use in the Bay Area yet (the nearest one is currently in Portland), but I’ll report when I do. Many claim them to be the biggest breakthrough for brewed coffee in decades. Non-espresso brewed coffee is becoming interesting again.

An American Revolution

The article also mentioned the high-end espresso machines of Seattle-based Synesso. The article quotes a Synesso owner as saying that now “we’re making American espresso on American machines.” It’s a seemingly trite comment, but there has been something of a Western espresso succession from Italy underfoot for years now. I don’t mean in a Starbucks‘ faux-Italian-café kind of way, but rather in how North America has been creating the occasional superior, and far more obsessive, espresso than can be found as a general rule across Italy.

This month’s issue of Barista Magazine (“From Canada to Italy”, by Stephen Morrisey) underscores this experience — where Italian cafés consistently produce good, but not excellent, espresso, and North American cafés generally produce poor espresso with some stellar exceptions.

UPDATE: February 28, 2007
No surprise, given Ritual Coffee Roasters‘ original Stumptown roots. But word on the street is that Ritual has their Clover up and running today: Metroblogging San Francisco: Ritual & Clover.

UPDATE: March 3, 2007
Ritual has two Clovers set up at their front counter, but they still are not ready for prime-time. I visited this afternoon, and while there were two people on shift who could run the machines, they haven’t perfected the art to “go public” just yet.

UPDATE: Nov. 15, 2007
Proving that some think it is never too late to show up for a party, today The Economist published an article on the Clover machine from SF’s Ritual Coffee Roasters: Coffee | Move over, espresso |