I’ve mentioned a number of times that I’m a latte junkie. They’re not the only thing I drink, though. And the first “real drink” I ordered a few months ago when I no longer had to restrict caffeine for baby-related reasons wasn’t a latte at all — it was a return to my favorite Starbucks beans, brewed in their most delicious form.

I haven’t done a full writeup on the Clover brewing machine yet, but let me give a quick summary: it’s the tastiest way to get a plain coffee at Starbucks. It’s a special machine that uses some kind of complex process to produce coffee with the extra flavor-packed deliciousness of a French press. Even better, they brew each coffee individually, so regardless of what they’re brewing on the regular machine when you come in (usually Pike Place Blend) you can get whatever beans you want brewed on the Clover.

They’re usually advertising rarer, more premium beans to brew on the Clover, and I’ve tried those and enjoyed them, but my all-time favorite Starbucks coffee remains Caffe Verona. This is a blend that nicely balances a dark roast with a smooth taste. It’s not as dark and charry as Italian Roast or French Roast, and the smoothness keeps it from straying into “Charbucks” territory.

Despite my years of coffee addiction, I don’t generally drink black coffee. But with a Clover coffee you don’t want to add too much or the delicious brewing process is wasted and you might as well get regular drip. So like most drinks I order, I made it a little more complicated.

Normally I don't include the cup markings, but this barista had such nice handwriting!

Normally I don’t include the cup markings, but this barista had such nice handwriting!

First off, I order a grande Clover-brewed Verona in a venti cup. This leaves plenty of room for me to add half-and-half, without needing to pour out any of this delicious goodness.

Secondly, I ask for two pumps of classic syrup. This is basically flavorless sugar water, which sweetens the drink a little without adding any extra flavors. I find it blends in better than just adding a sugar packet, and it’s half the number of pumps a grande drink would normally get so it’s not oversweetened.

The end result is a grande Clover-brewed Verona in a venti cup with two pumps of classic. A nice, smooth coffee with a little cream and sweetness but not so much it overpowers the coffee itself.

Not all Starbuckses have a Clover machine, because they take up a bunch of space and usually require a renovation to the espresso bar area. But if you find yourself in a store that’s got one, give it a shot. You can even use the Starbucks website or app to search for the nearest store with a Clover!