Starbucks tweaks test of Clover brewing system
Starbucks Corp. said it is withdrawing its Clover Brewed premium coffee offering from seven of its Greater Boston stores as it looks to fine-tune a test program of the Clover system.
Another 26 Starbucks stores in the area will continue to offer Clover brewed coffee, the company said, and the seven Clover systems being removed will be redeployed to other area Starbucks in the coming months, the company said. As of the end of June, Starbucks had 144 stores in Massachusetts.
Last year, Starbucks bought the company that owned the Clover brewing system as part of a larger plan to revitalize the Seattle-based chain by offering coffee aficionados an additional high-end option.
According to published reports, the Clover makes one cup of coffee at time to a customer's specifications. The Clover makes coffee from both traditional Starbucks blends and from blends specially designed for the Clover system. In the opinion of some caffeine buffs, the Clover brewing process can tease out bean subtleties that traditional brewing systems can't match. The result is a superior cup of coffee worthy of a connoisseur, according to Starbucks. (To read a Globe story about the Clover, please click here.)
Part of the Clover experiment has been testing price points as the chain looks to identify the right demographics and the right store sizes to support the Clover program, a Starbucks spokeswoman said. In the Boston area, a 12-ounce cup of Sumatra blend costs about $1.65; made with Clover system, it can cost $1.95.
Greater Boston is one of three markets selected to test Clover; the other two are Seattle and San Francisco.
After initial testing, Starbucks has decided to remove the Clover from seven of the 33 Greater Boston locations where Clover systems were installed. Plans call for the seven Clover systems that will be removed from some stores to be redeployed in other Greater Boston stores over the next few months.
Besides in Boston, Starbucks stores that are scheduled to lose a Clover system include stores in Brookline, Cambridge, and Sudbury, the company said.
"Starbucks remains committed to the Clover Brewed Program, and we look forward to expanding the program to more than 250 Starbucks stores in 2010," the chain said in a statement.
Just over a year ago, Starbucks said it would close about 600 underperforming stores, a Globe story noted. At the end of June 2009, the chain said it had 11,266 stores in the United States and Canada. (Globe Staff)