Fear of Filter

May 4, 2012



Espresso is dead …long live espresso….or should that be filter?

Yes – in the last few years, more and more trade ‘chatter’ has been focussed on filter, or drip coffee, (depending upon which side of the pond you call home) being the next ‘big’ thing…

The simple reason is that here in the Uk we never did filter justice did we?

Remember the stewing jugs, on the pour and serve hot plate that used to sum up high street service, not much less than 5 years ago?

Then gourmet espresso based beverages appeared like a poison ivy rash – driven down our throats by the likes of Starbucks and an omnipresent ‘Big Brother’ Costa… and filter became a Lungo or Americano…in other words an espresso diluted with water

Looking back often provides inspiration for a better future…but we must be careful not to reinvent the wheel and pretend it is something different

A case in point is the Starbucks Clover Brewing system which may well be visiting an overpriced store near you sooner than you think!

The Clover Brewing system is neat, cool, different and it works for fine, clear and sparkling filter coffee…..Using patented ‘Vacuum Press Technology’ the system carefully and visually grinds, brews and then filters through a 70 micron filter screen each cup of coffee individually, fresh on demand


It looks cool…in the same way Linn Hi-fi equipment is an understated style statement, which few will ‘get’ and even fewer will partake in…it feels aspirational…the best that there is… simple and yet divinely superlative… well, yes, it may well be that and at what was a 30,000 USD price tag per unit it jolly well should be!

BUT! When Starbucks announced they were to acquire The Coffee Equipment Co – the makers of the Clover system in 2009 – they effectively stopped the innovation train…. and bought themselves time and control of an emerging trend, which clearly they knew little about…. and left the competitive set scrabbling for alternative solutuions….

A couple of years later, the system is now seeing the light of day, with Starbucks ‘Reserve Coffees’ which are (the marketing blurb advises) ‘exotic, rare and exquisite’ such as Honduras, Kenyan and Sidamo (Read Mondeo GLX) being available through the coveted system, at a premium of course – And this is what time has bought Starbucks…no improvement to the system, simply the ability to play a waiting game in the name of enhanced margin

The Clover beverages command a premium in the US of some 75 cent per cup…. good business by any standards and bring a basic cup of coffee knocking on the $4 barrier…

But the real insight from a ‘Coffee Ratings.com’ report is that the staff didn’t know how to use the system… tried to serve the reserve coffee from the top end brewer into a waxed paper cup… that the beans weren’t fresh due to a low rate of sale and that the Starbucks ‘charbucks’ roast killed all flavour and made the system a nonsense…

It smacks of the lowest denominator managing standards and expectations….. And this, for me, is the case at point here. In a mass consumer market how able and enlightened are we to use choice to make an informed, better decision? Well, unless we try hard and do our research I think the answer is ‘Not a lot Debbie!’

Aromo is launching great tasting Senseo filter coffee pods to join our ESE Espresso stable soon… we dare you to test and comment…in the meantime well-done on finding us, for doing your little bit of research  – whether by default or design –  you have challenged the system…if you try our humble coffees…we think you’ll like them! 🙂

This article was written by Guru (Andy Grelak) who writes for aromocoffee.co.uk, the UK’s leading online retailer of 44mm E.S.E espresso coffee pods