HOWARD D. SCHULTZ, the chief executive of Starbucks, dropped a bombshell last week at the annual shareholders meeting when he announced that as part of an effort to concentrate on making better coffee, the corporation had bought the Coffee Equipment Company of Seattle, maker of the Clover coffee brewer.
Coffee drinkers were buzzing. Clovers are $11,000 machines that brew one cup at a time and have become essential equipment at some of the country’s top independent cafes. How could the company now be the exclusive property of a giant corporation? In protest, Stumptown Coffee in Portland, Ore., one of Clover’s earliest champions, said it had decided to stop using Clover machines.
If none of the coffees made a favorable impression… it seemed that the problem lay less with the Clover, or the quality of the beans, than with the roast.
And Stumptown still roasts better coffee than Starbucks, and if the Clover really does make the best possible cup of coffee, what does Stumptown gain from essentially taking a step backward? An Oregonian article sheds a bit more light on the issue:
“We’ve never purchased parts or service from Starbucks in the past, and we’re not going to start now,” said Matt Lounsbury, Stumptown’s director of operations, who said the company’s two stores with Clovers would stop using them by Friday.
So it’s not just about the machines themselves, but also maintenance and repairs, and an unwillingness to negotiate with the evil empire. Fair enough, I suppose. According to the O, the Stumptown locations that use the Clovers will revert back to French pressing their coffee.