Technivorm Moccamaster KBGC 741 AO review: Premium, colorful coffee machine doesn't fulfill its potential

technivorm-moccamaster-clubline-7.jpg

The Moccamaster comes apart for easy cleaning.

Megan Wollerton/CNET

Preparing the uniquely designed Moccamaster, not to mention watching it run through its brewing process, is a huge part of the fun in using this machine. After filling the water tank, dropping a no. 4 paper filter (along with coffee grounds measured using the included scoop) into its brew-basket, simply swivel the water outlet arm into place (over the basket).

With both lids in position (water and brew-basket), you then place the glass carafe onto its circular pad on the hotplate and flip the On switch.

This is when the magic happens. About 10 to 15 seconds into the brew cycle you're treated to a soft gurgling sound, gradually becoming a crescendo of bubbles that march upward inside a glass tube at the center of the water reservoir as boiling water moves from the tank to drip over the coffee grounds in the brew-basket. It's a mesmerizing process to watch and one that's reminiscent of aquariums and lava lamps.

Unfortunately the AO's transparent pitcher is this coffee maker's weakest link. Weighing a light 13.6 ounces and sculpted from thin glass, handling the container is nerve racking. I always felt it would break easily if I banged it down on my test kitchen counter with too much force or worse, dropped it onto a hard floor. While I thankfully didn't manage to crack the pot, its thin plastic lid and destratification tube combo was prone to popping off its hinge. I also found it hard to pour liquid quickly with the carafe's lid down since tilting the vessel at a too great an angle resulted in drips and spills.

technivorm-moccamaster-clubline-21.jpg

The glass carafe isn't as easy to pour as its thermal counterpart.

Megan Wollerton/CNET

I much prefer the "Brew-Thru-Lid" and thermal carafe Technivorm bundles with the Moccamaster KBT 741. It allows you to pour coffee straight from the carafe at the end of the brewing cycle without needing to unscrew it. Technivorm also claims that the gadget's long tube will mix the coffee while brewing and even preserve the heat of the thermal carafe's contents. Additionally the thermal carafe's funnel-shaped collar lets you decant it from virtually any angle, even sideways which is perfect for a klutz like me.

Another fact to consider is that Technivorm sells a virtually identical Moccamaster KBGC 741 AO model globally. The only difference is that the international KBGC has a descale light to remind owners when its time to clean their machines. The American KBG 741 version lacks this perk.

Performance

At the end of the day the paramount feature of any coffee machine is how well it makes its beverage. Unfortunately while the Moccamaster KBG 741 AO reliably cooks up very good pots of the black gold, it didn't quite match its sibling's level of brewing performance. Repeatedly the batches of coffee the 741 AO whipped up were just a touch harsher than what I coaxed out of the KBT 741.

Indeed even when using the same test beans (Costco house blend) which I personally grinded moments before brewing (medium coarseness with a burr grinder) and with an identical coffee to water ratio, the coffee the KBG 741 AO produced was always slightly more bitter. And before you even ask, I had both appliances brewing side by side and supplied with the same tap water source as well.

p1060775.jpg

Testing revealed the KBG 741 AO's high extraction percentage.

Brian Bennett/CNET

Measurements with our trusty refractometer backed up my experience. Even though both machines boasted an identical (and fast) brew time of 5 minutes and 45 seconds (a little over 6 if you count to the last drips), the KBG 741 AO consistently over extracted. I logged the TDS (total dissolved solids) of coffee the AO created to typically be about 1.3 percent. This translates to an average extraction percentage of 30 percent.

That's way over the ideal extraction percentage is between 18 to 22 percent. Anything beyond that is considered to be over-extracted, yielding less desirable compounds from any given sample of grounds. By contrast the Moccamaster KBT 741 turned in a significantly lower average extraction of 21.5 percent which is right in the sweet spot as it were.

Heat during the brewing process wasn't a factor either since both Moccamasters exhibited excellent, and practically identical temperature performance. Within the second minute of brewing readings inside the brew baskets were over 190 degrees Fahrenheit (88 Celsius), reaching just shy of 200 degrees F (93 C) at the 3-minute mark, where it stayed for the duration.

I also can confirm that the KBG 741 AO's hotplate works as advertised. The high setting kept temperatures inside the glass carafe at a stable 180 degrees F/82 C (though never exceeding 181.4 degrees F/83 C on my tests) until the warmer shut off about an hour and a half after brewing. Once that happened though temps dropped quickly below what I consider hot (150 degrees F, 65.5 C) and in 20 minutes I measured the pot's contents to be 147 degrees F, 64 C. It's a huge contrast to the KBT 741's stainless steel carafe which managed to keep its brew nice and hot for a full 6 hours.

Conclusion

I really wanted to fall in love with the Moccamaster KBG 741 AO. Not only does this pink brewing machine stand out from the pack of drab java kitchen gadgets, it packs all of the same hardware which made Technivorm a home coffee making legend. It heats its water up quickly and exposes its coffee grounds to the perfect temperature for the entire brew cycle. The scrappy appliance also belts out pots of joe 10 cups at a time and even keeps them warm without burning them thanks to a smartly-designed hotplate.

Unfortunately at just a bit more than its very capable, less colorful big brother, the Technivorm Moccamaster KBT 741 , I find it hard to recommend the glass carafe of the KBG over its sibling. Its coffee pot is trickier to pour and feels thin and fragile enough for me to fear accidental breakage. Worst of all though, the brew it creates is a tad rougher around the edges and ultimately not as enjoyable as I've come to expect from a Moccamaster. There's no denying that this gadget is a competent coffee maker, it's just not as magnificent as it should be especially considering its steep sticker price.

More Best Products

All best products