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Apr 3, 2008 09:23 AM

Starbucks Clover Coffee and Flat Patties Chicken Sandwich

Strange combination I know, but I've been wanting to try both and I found myself in Harvard Square just now on an errand for work so I took the opportunity.

The coffee is delicious and the barista was very happy to chat with me for a few minutes about how it differs from traditional drip coffee while she made mine. She mentioned that right now they are one of only 6 'bucks in the US to have the Clover machine. I chose one of the "special" coffees on offer - an Ethiopian something (forgot, sorry!) Anyway, it is delicious and I fully expect to be bouncing off the walls in a few minutes (double the caffeine).

Grilled chicken sandwich at Flat Patties. Juicy, flavorful, cooked to order and $3.41 can't beat that. Need to go back and try the pulled pork and the french fries.

Construction in Harvard Square makes it a bit of a nightmare, even to be on foot, so be prepared for it to take a bit longer to get around (I assume construction will be completed in time for Harvard Commencement this spring).

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  1. Is this the *$ across (roughly) from Fire & Ice? Was in that area the other day and poked my head in (I felt dirty, I loathe starbucks) to see if they had the Clover but I didn't see anything on the menu that struck me over the head as being the clover based coffee. What with that whole loathing of starbucks I just beat a swift retreat instead of asking them.

    Speaking of flat patties, I also had my first foray there the other day (the same day as my *$ tale actually) and got the pulled pork. It was definitely interesting, I swear they put crack in it. Big chunks of my mind kept telling me that I didn't like what I was eating, but I couldn't put the thing down ad other chunks of my mind kept telling me, "EAT! EAT! EAT!"

    20 Replies
    1. re: jgg13

      it's the starbucks in the garage so right next to flat patties. i also tried the clover for the first time yesterday having the same coffee as you and i agree, it was wonderful. so different than normal drip. the barista advised me to get the tall, not the grande to concentrate the flavors even more

      1. re: jgg13

        If you hate Starbucks and wish to try a Clover coffee, get thee to Velouria Espresso in JP.

        1. re: gini

          The unspoken part of my post was that it was really the gf who wanted to go in and try it , I just ended up being curious since I was already dragged in there :) I had heard that VE had the Clover, but that's not really feasible for us to get to for a cup o' coffee unfortunately :(

          If the starbucks clover coffee is as good as reports make it out to be, I actually probably wouldn't mind getting it now and then. A good chunk of my dislike of them is simply due to thinking that their coffee is crap :) (the other part being that they've somehow hoodwinked the masses into believing that its not and that we need one on every corner!)

          1. re: jgg13

            I used to avoid it like the plague but am now actually looking for excuses to get in there (I work a solid 15 minutes from the Garage). The coffee is quite good. And it's $2.50 for a grande, a term I still don't care for.

            One of the things that occasionally would get me into a Starbucks in the past was they would typically be the most reliable place to buy Yirgacheffe. Last time I got a Clover coffee I casually asked about when/if I would see it again (and, honestly, almost defeatedly, if that's a word, not expecting a response more than a "Get the F out of here you snob" through a smile with clenched teeth). To my surprise and delight, the barista told me about the harvest, why it's more or less rare, when to expect it again (mid-April to early May) and confirmed that it would almost certainly be one of the varietals they'll use in the store for the Clover.


            1. re: jgg13

              " A good chunk of my dislike of them is simply due to thinking that their coffee is crap :) (the other part being that they've somehow hoodwinked the masses into believing that its not and that we need one on every corner!) "

              That's funny, because to me that describes Dunkin Donuts to a T. And DD's *really* are on every corner.

              Anyway, the clover coffee is fantastic and as I don't live close to JP I'm stuck going to the evil Starbucks for the time being. I am a fan of all things non-chain but Someday Cafe was the closest indie place to me that had decent coffee. Now I do my best to patronize 1369 whenever I'm in Central or Inman squares.

              1. re: Ralphie_in_Boston

                They don't clover, but don't forget True Grounds in Ball Square, Somerville for very good indie coffee -- they are NUTS there and use terroir beans.

                Plus they make great sandwiches ... munching on the Rogers right now -- roast beef, horseradish, sharp cheddar, on grilled rye.

                1. re: Ralphie_in_Boston

                  Yeah, but DD also doesn't have that obnoxious "grande", "vente" crap, and its mostly a regional thing up here. I don't have to hear about DD all over the news, tv shows, articles, etc. They don't call their staff baristas (People don't call the burger flipper at McDs a line cook, do they?), etc etc etc.

                  1. re: jgg13

                    yes, but DD does have lattes, espresso etc.... same language.

                    1. re: jgg13

                      I could care less what they call the cups, or the employees, as long as the coffee is good.

                      As for *not* hearing about DD all over the place, I'm afraid I don't understand your point. Once again the opposite is true--as I type this a DD comml is on the tube--a soccer mom paying more attention to her DD sandwich than her kids. I have more examples but I'd be sending this thread further off topic.

                      Thanks to yumyum about the True Grounds suggestion. The Clover machine is great, but out of the reach of the Indie shop. Maybe its mere presence will raise the bar somewhat elsewhere--that would be a good thing.

                    2. re: Ralphie_in_Boston

                      I am not a Starbucks fan but I have had their coffee from the Clover twice. Both times were great. It is too bad that Starbucks bought Clover manufacturer. No other coffee places will be able to buy the machines in the future.

                      1. re: Ralphie_in_Boston

                        I hope this isn't veering too off-topic, but Simon's on Mass Ave between Porter and Harvard also has excellent coffee. Like True Grounds they use Howell's beans for coffee and espresso, and they occasionally bring out some roasts from Atomic Cafe as well. The coffee is excellent, the espresso is sublime.

                    3. re: gini

                      Went to Velouria over the weekend to try the Clover...and it totally, totally blew. I blame, in part, the sawdusty George Howell beans, which smelled WAY off as they were ground. The popularity of these "full flavor-roasted" beans is completely lost on me. The emperor's new clothes, perhaps?

                      Anyway, the resulting coffee (a small) filled a pint glass, and honestly seemed like what one would expect if one used twice the recommended amount of water. Thin, brownish, translucent, even more expensive than the Starbucks version. What a disaster. I was shocked.

                      Mind you, I'm no Starbucks apologist (thought this was me:, but I do support a ubiquitous chain trying to improve its core product. Hey, sometimes you're in the airport. Sometimes you're in Columbia, Missouri. And, unfortunately, the Boston coffee situation is a little Dunkin Donutty for my tastes.

                      1. re: jkv

                        Oh dear. That is not good at all.

                        1. re: jkv

                          Does Velouria allow you to choose the coffee?

                          1. re: jkv

                            Ok, 2 points in response to this.

                            1st, it's a completely legitimate taste preference position to not like the George Howell roasting approach. One I happen to disagree with strongly, but let's not go calling each other taste-blind over it.

                            2nd, it is true that the Clover produces coffee that is very clean, with a consistency that is close to that of water and lighter in color than most brewed coffee. But the aromas and flavors are significantly brighter, cleaner, with more of whatever fruit note and snap that particular coffee has. The whole thing is pretty subtle, and it isn't for everyone, to be sure, but it makes some people pretty happy, and I'm one of them.

                            Frankly, I'm not sure how well it will work for Starbucks worldwide, as I'd imagine quite a few people will respond as jkv did.

                            1. re: jajjguy

                              I also have a hard time believing that the implementation will work smoothly for Starbucks - making a clover drink does seem to take at least three minutes, and unless Starbucks generates some real demand and then staffs to meet that demand making a few clover coffees will really slow up their morning rush.

                              1. re: jajjguy

                                totally agree. It seems like the usual Starbucks consumer might not be a big fan of the clover-made stuff. I have found myself frequenting the Starbuck's clover when otherwise I wouldn't be there at all. I've tried Kenyan, Ethiopian, and Sumatra. I didn't like the Sumatra but enjoyed the Kenyan prepared with the clover.

                                1. re: uman

                                  interesting that you say that. every time i've gone to starbucks to get a clover coffee, i've never seen anyone else order one. well, except for the coffee geeky people i brought with me.

                                2. re: jajjguy

                                  I think you're probably right about the taste factor with the Terroir. My only hesitation to dive right in and fully agree is that I've had the lighter-roasted Blue Bottle coffee in SF, and haven't run into any of the weirdness that the Terroir beans seem to have. Off smells, an odd and powdery grind, and relatively non-coffee-like flavors (and this is where I'm agreeing with you--maybe I just don't want coffee to taste like apricots).

                                  On the other hand, just the idea of coffee with a "consistency that is close to that of water" makes me shiver. I don't believe this for even a second--no coffee device that makes watery coffee is going to turn anyone's head (except for toward, maybe, the sink). The Starbucks Clovers (when run properly) have produced a pretty silky joe. Watery would come from either not stirring the grounds enough or using too much water, either of which may have messed up the Velouria experience.

                          2. I'm always suprised by the DD sucks crowd. While I would prefer to have a Red Barn, Velouria, True Grounds, Ariba, Frontside Grind, Peets, etc. handy - regular coffee at DD hands down beats Char $'s. It ain't gourmet, but it works as an every day grab some caffeine for work when you don't have options. (Strictly talking about coffee - not espresso, lattes, etc.).

                            There is a lot of coffee worse than DD out there. Like the free stuff we have here at work....

                            DD beans actually make OK coffee at home if you have a burr grinder and a decent coffee maker.

                            1. I tried Flat Patties for the first time this weekend, and while I thought it was good for the price point, I wasn't wowed. The chicken was definitely moist and tasty, but it was no UBurger chicken. For all the good things I've heard about the pulled pork, I wasn't expecting it to be so tomato sauce-y. The fries, though, were superb. Thin and crispy and salt and full of love.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: pamalamb

                                I wouldn't describe my reaction as wowed either. More along the lines of - "that's a darn good chicken sandwich for under $4 and ready to eat in under 10 minutes." Any reports on the onion rings? Are they rings or strings?

                                1. re: heathermb

                                  They're rings of a mid thickness variety.

                                  1. re: heathermb

                                    Try the mozzarella sticks next time you're at Flat Patties- I love, love, love them. I especially love their marinara- so yummy!

                                2. Had a clover at BH starbucks a couple weeks ago. Arabian someting. Totally underwhelmed, really flat. Had it a few days ago, Ethioian I think, re4ally good. Full flavor, no bitter.
                                  George Howell, stop selling to the masses. No control. Open cafes again so they are consistent. We miss you.

                                  1. After hearing about Heatherrmb's combo, I decided to try the same thing today, for the same reasons, actually. Flat Patties was terrific, easily the closest thing I've found to In 'n Out, though I had the chicken sandwich rather than a burger. The sandwich was delicious, and a bargain, and if I closed my eyes the fries tasted the same as In 'n Out. They're fresh cut thin, and fried in 100% peanut oil, giving a very clean taste. I could eat them every day, if my arteries could take it.

                                    Went next door to get a Clover coffee, had the Sumatra-Peru blend. I was skeptical, but it was actually delicious, WAY better than their standard, and very reasonably priced at $2.25 for a tall. They've got 4 coffees listed, but they'll make it for you with any coffee they have in the store, for the same price. Unfortunaletly, they're all out of Kona, the barista said it was "very popular."

                                    I'll be back.

                                    8 Replies
                                    1. re: winedude

                                      Oh how I love In n Out...I will make sure to try the fries on my next visit. Maybe the burger too...

                                      One follow up to my Clover experience...I had the coffee around noon and at 6:30 I was bouncing off the walls on a caffeine high - could NOT sit still (much to the annoyance of my pilates instructor!). It really is a serious dose of caffeine, I normally drink two large cups of french press coffee a day and never have such a long-lasting caffeine high.

                                      1. re: heathermb

                                        Like other posters I don't see how the Clover could really change SB's business, as it takes a long time to make it. When I went the guy making it didn't even rinse (let alone clean) the metal coffee scoop from the last time it was used, which I thought, given the supposed precision and quality of the product, and the flagship status of the Clover in the Garage's SB branch, didn't say much at all good.

                                        I thought it tasted better than Starbucks' standard drip but not so much better as to justify the price, which in itself seemed a lot lower than it might have been.

                                        Coffee snobs can judge my level by noting that I thought the Terroir coffee I had at Simon's tasted like it had been on a hot plate for 24 hours, and that when I bought some direct from the web site and put it through my Aeropress, I didn't think it especially better than the standard independent coffee shop roast I had which cost half the price. Clearly I don't get it. :)

                                        1. re: chickendhansak

                                          Actually, I wouldn't judge you based on your Terroir experience. I'm a true coffee snob (no point in denying it), and I've imported coffee from all over for my favorites (Spinelli's from SF back in the day, then Peet's before they came out here, Blue Bottle from Berkeley, Kona directlyfrom several farms on the Big Island, La Columbe from Philly, and even St. Eustachio from Rome.) I also really loved Coffee Connection, way back when. But I really don't get the Terroir coffees. I've yet to taste one I liked.

                                          1. re: chickendhansak

                                            Oh, Terroir. Have you tried it at Iggy's? Best cup of coffee I've had in Boston.

                                            1. re: okello

                                              Fior reference, it's the Costa Rica La Minita beans at Iggy's and there must be something in their water, as I think they brew some of the best cups anywhere as well - including the Illy option next to the Terroir - equally delicious - maybe it's the organic, fresh milk and cream? I go out of my way to get a cup of coffee from Iggy's whenever anywhere nearby. Terroir at home (French Press) has yet to impress me as well, particularly at the higher price point (note the 12 oz packaging at 16 oz prices...)

                                            2. re: chickendhansak

                                              I also thought the drip coffee at Simon's was terrible and burned tasting. I like their espresso, though.

                                              Yay Aeropress! :)

                                          2. re: winedude

                                            It's funny, I just moved to LA a couple months ago from Boston (I miss Boston, so I can't help checking up on the Boston boards) and I had In N' Out for the first time. For the burger I immediately thought, 'this is just like Flat Patties in Harvard Square' (which is a good thing). However, I thought the fries were terrible. They had no crunch to them. I think the Flat Patties fries are far superior and very different. So I don't really get the In N' Out obsession here....maybe you have to have grown up on it???

                                            1. re: avosom

                                              there are code words. did you ask for the fries to be well done? :) i'm a californian in boston.