In using the clover, I have discovered that stirring technique has a big impact on cup quality. I have heard through the grapevine that Alistair has come to the same conclusion. This makes sense: with the short brewing time, any difference in turbulence should have a dramatic effect on extraction.
So anyway, I've been experimenting with stirring styles. Anecdotally, my favorite goes like this:
1. As the water fills, I use the stirring device to gently make sure the coffee is wet. There is no actual stirring at this point, just slight agitation.
2. About 18 seconds before the piston engages, I start to stir rapidly in a counterclockwise direction. The stir is very circular, the point is to create a whirlpool effect.
3. When the piston engages and the coffee extracts, the groundsburger is pyramidal or humped.
My theory is that this gives a more auniform extraction, which empahsizes complexity in the cup.
In times of yor, this technique would have been akin to a state secret. The clover would have been put in a special room with a black curtain. I know that the Elysian baristas have experimented with a variety of different stirring and agitation techniques. Not sure what the current one is though I suspect that it is something similar if not the same.
Any word if Clover 2.0 or 3.0 will include some agitation/stirring mechanism?
Well, wasn't the original clover designed to provide it's own agitation with the spray pattern of the water? I wonder if the potential to get different cup quality depending on different stir techniques is a disadvantage?
I would love to request a humped groundsburger next time I get some clover coffee, but I'm afraid I'd get arrested.
Oh snap, they sent you a dayglo spatula with your machine? You must of ordered the Clover LX.
Alistair, could you please let me know what type of stirring apparatus you prefer?
I was, gulp, liking the results from 8 gentle stirs during the spraying time, my burgers were coming out perfectly symmetrical and puck-like though...
ok so, i won't explain the elysian technique quite yet, but i'll tell you whats the matter with yours...
other than using a completly barbaric instrument for stirring, your second action of turbulence although interesting and well meaning, is flawed. for the most effective vaccuum press with a filter pause of less than 5.8 seconds @12oz, the puck must finish flat for the highest potential filtration. clearly this cannot be achieved with your silly whirlpool method.
Funny, I sometimes use my evasolo stirring device as well. Only, it seems a little short.... plus I like the silicone "bumper" feel of the spatula. I'm not sure barbaric is the word, tacky perhaps, but barbaric?
Alistair, the hump is the key to my technique!!! I think that the coffee extracts more at the edges and less at the center (think overextraction and underextraction) when the piston engages. I think it produces more complexity in the cup. I have done SOME blind experimentation and I believe this to be consistent.
And, if you're going to tell me you put a vibrator in your clover..... who's calling who barbaric?
Peter G, your stirring technique is unstoppable... it's just heading in the wrong direction
My main objective is to break up all clumps, remove all coffee grounds from the walls of the extraction chamber, and to prevent fines from settling to the bottom. The specifics of my technique, for t3h pwnage purposes, must remain secret for the time being. In the mean time, I hope you find relief in the fact that someone, somewhere, is making better coffee than you.