First encounter with the Springfield Blogger’s Association

Though I had visited the Springfield Blogger’s Association a couple of years ago with Ryan (it’s crazy to think that much time has passed!), I’ve never made it to another meeting. It seems like I’ve always got something going on Monday nights, or at least I’m exhausted from a hard Monday at work, but I went tonight. Since I no longer have class on Tuesday/Wednesday nights, I didn’t feel as pressured to have Monday night off, and with the topic of discussion this month being statistics and analytics, I thought I might have something to add to the conversation.

It was a great two and a half hours of talk about stats and the means to gather them, how traffic will affect site performance, different content management systems one might use, genealogy, and  food. Talking about it, not eating–we were at Patton Alley Pub, and while they have some great stuff, I settled for just a Bass and the good company.

I enjoyed finally meeting Sarah Jo and Teresa, who I’ve seen on Twitter and elsewhere in the last two years but never met in person, as well as some new people I hope to speak more with in the future such as Nigel. Looking forward to next month’s meeting and some new additions to my RSS feed!

My first sip of Clover

I first heard of the Clover coffee machine when The Coffee Ethic opened just off the downtown square of my hometown, Springfield, Missouri. This $11,000 coffee brewing machine was supposed to make the best coffee ever, one cup at a time, through some fancy weighing, heating, and water distribution processes. Coffee Ethic had managed to grab one of these machines before Starbucks bought the company that made them, preventing anyone else from getting a Clover machine, but I still hadn’t tried any Clover coffee despite Coffee Ethic opening well over a year ago.

Since I had some time to kill before April’s class ended, I thought I would come try a cup. I have to say, the difference is quite remarkable.

I’m not really much of a coffee snob. I avoid a number of different coffee blends (Folgers chief among these) because they really upset my stomach. I don’t know if it’s the high acidity or the poor quality of ingredients, but the lower-end coffees really screw me up. Most days I drink 8 O’Clock Coffee, which is very cheap and available from Wal-Mart, yet was rated #1 by Consumer Reports several years ago. Most of what I get from our local coffee shops is safe for me to drink as well.

I usually grind my own beans, though most of the time I don’t think this is to much benefit, and we have a relatively expensive and very nice drip coffee pot at home. Coffee is good, and I enjoy it, and I can note differences in its flavour based on temperature, type of coffee, acidity, body, etc. However, it all tastes pretty much like “coffee” to me, and there is little subtlety to it.

This cup of coffee, made with a Clover machine, progressed through four different flavours in my first sip. It is far more robust than I am used to coffee being, far more complex, and far more enjoyable to drink. This cup of coffee is an experience in and of itself, similar to smoking a pipe, and I think I could enjoy just sitting here and doing nothing other than drinking it just for the joy and challenge of tasting the coffee.

I’m not actually a fan of this coffee, ((I tried a dark Sumatra roast. It is a little more earthy in the middle than I like, but I asked the young man assisting me to describe the different coffees and, of the two available, this seemed like the one I’d most like)) but I can say without a doubt that I am not fond of the coffee, rather than having my opinion tainted by the brewing. This is clearly a superior brew, giving far better insight into the beans and the roast (which was perhaps a slight bit too much, I think) than other coffee pots can grant.

At almost $3 a cup, I certainly won’t be drinking Clover coffee every day, nor am I ready to give up my coffee pot at home or the office. Maybe my Dunkin Donuts blend via the Mr. Coffee at work isn’t as complex or wonderful, but it’s still hot, satisfying, and good. Most of the time I’m drinking coffee as a beverage and for the caffeine, with only about 30-40% of my desire being for good taste. ((It has to taste good, but if good taste was my primary requirement, I’d be Clovering it up every day)) During most days, I want coffee in mass quantities, and that’s not feasible with Clover at this time.

But it is delicious, and the next time I’m going out for coffee with someone, I think The Coffee Ethic is where we shall go. The Mudhouse shall certainly remain the place for fancy coffee drinks and longer-term work (writing and studying), and I love Hebrews when I can get there on a weekend, but for a great brewed coffee experience, I don’t think anywhere will beat Coffee Ethic’s Clover.