Starbucks Buys Clover, Starts Social Networking Site

Well, the Starbucks shareholder meeting has come and gone, and the two biggest pieces of news out of it are that the Seattle-based coffee giant is buying Clover Equipment, makers of the single-brew coffee machine coveted by beanheads, and that Starbucks is starting a social networking site (—basically to pick your brain for further improvements.

What that seems to mean is that, from now on, the only outlets to get any new Clover machines will be Starbucks—though Clover promises on its site to continue to support all deployed machines with parts and service.

This could be interesting. From what people say about Clover-made coffee, it's a bit of a revelation, taste-wise. And with Starbucks' ubiquity, that supposedly amazing coffee will be available all over and not just in the relatively small amount of shops that currently own one of these $11,000 machines.

In a way, this development is a natural—Starbucks essentially changed the way we thought about coffee, and Clover's goal is the same. Now that company will have the chance to do it on a gigantic scale.

Not only that, but the highly automated nature of the Clover machine—its computerized presets adjust temperatures, water amount, and brewing time based on bean type—are perfect for a company worried about consistency from location to location. It seems like a good move for Starbucks.

But a social networking site? Seems like a crazy idea on the face of it; surprisingly, though, there are a lot of comments and ideas on the site already—for free wifi, reward punch cards, and, my favorite, an "express" line for drip coffee and tea orders.