Starbucks has set its efforts to lure oppositional coffee connoisseurs with the news of instating Clover Coffee Brewers into their stores. The brewer, valued at $11,000 a machine, brews a single cup at a time, and is a product of the Coffee Equipment Company of Seattle. Last week, the chief executive of Starbucks, Howard D. Schultz, announced the acquisition of the company at their annual shareholders meeting along with initiatives to promote investor success and customer relations.
The Clover Brewer has been the darling of many independent gourmet coffee houses around the country. There was a sweeping renitence to the news last week. One Portland, Oregon coffee shop, which was a pioneering advocate and user of the Clover, has proclaimed an immediate boycott of the machine. A report yesterday in the New York Times suggested that the inclusion of the Clover was to create separation between the coffee juggernaut and its inching rivals McDonalds and Dunkin’ Donuts, and perhaps to close the gap of quality against gourmet cafés. Mr. Schultz denied those speculations and in a telephone interview with the Times said, “We’ve allowed our position as the leader in the coffee industry to become somewhat blurred.”
The question now is where does clarity lead? Unfortunately, the company has come under egregious characterizations over the past several years and even if they can win some patronage with a two-minute-to-brew cup of coffee there are still many steadfast skeptics out there. However, as the Times reports, the machine holds its reputation in making one mean cup of Joe, even at the price of a bit of guilt.