The Times profiles the "Clover," a $20,000 coffee brewing device that uses siphons and vacuum and the powered dreams of Colombian urchins to produce an apparently stupendous cup of Joseph.
Designed by three Stanford graduates, it lets the user program every feature of the brewing process, including temperature, water dose and extraction time. (It even has an Ethernet connection that can feed a complete record of its configurations to a Web database.) Not only is each cup brewed to order, but the way each cup is brewed can be tailored to a particular bean – light or dark roast, acidic or sweet, and so on.
The Clover works something like an inverted French press: coffee grounds go into a brew chamber, hot water shoots in and a powerful piston slowly lifts and plunges a filter, forcing the coffee out through a nozzle in the front. The final step, when a cake of spent grounds rises majestically to the top, is so titillating to coffee fanatics that one of them posted a clip of it on YouTube. [Of course the Times doesn't actually link to the Youtube vid and I can't find it. - Ed.]
A siphon pot has two stacked glass globes, and works a little like a macchinetta, that stove-top gadget wrongly called an espresso maker by generations of graduate students. As water vapor forces water into the upper globe the coffee grounds are stirred by hand with a bamboo paddle. (In Japan, siphon coffee masters carve their own paddles to fit the shape of their palms.)
The goal is to create a deep whirlpool in no more than four turns without touching the glass. Posture is important. So is timing: siphon coffee has a brewing cycle of 45 to 90 seconds.
Paging Tonx to the discussion.
Update: Serious Eats points out that the company has a map showing all the locations of the machines in the US. [CloverEquipment.com]
Update 2: As many of you pointed out in the comments, I am a dumb. The picture above is a crazy Japanese thing mentioned in the article, but not the Clover. There are two distinct machines!