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 next screw what Technivorm calls a "Brew-Thru-Lid" (with destratification tube) into the thermal carafe's mouth, then slide the carafe into its socket and flip the On switch.
This is when the magic happens, and by that I mean the bubbles. Yes, 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, lava lamps, and other bubblicious eye-candy.
I also appreciate how the "Brew-Thru-Lid" 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. While I can't directly verify if this piece of hardware actually stirs things up, the machine was able to deliver remarkably delicious brews where others failed (more on this later).
Aesthetics aside, when you boil it all down, what really matters in a coffee maker is the quality of the brew it creates. I can happily say that the Technivorm Moccamaster KBT 741 doesn't disappoint. I found that the handsome machine consistently made very tasty pots of coffee (10 cups at a time), and in some cases brews that were truly sublime in flavor.
The raw performance numbers backed up the Moccamaster's coffee brewing prowess. The entire brewing cycle took 5 minutes and 45 seconds (6 minutes if you count waiting for the last drips to stop). That's well under the 8 minutes or less recommended by the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA). Additionally I measured temperature within the brew-basket to typically hit the sought-after 200 degrees (Fahrenheit) at the 2 minute mark (or right after). After that, the temp remained between 200 and 204 degrees for the duration of the brewing cycle.
This type of showing confirms that the Moccamaster runs rings around lesser machines like the Melitta 10-Cup Thermal ($70) and Capresso MT600 ($130), which tended to serve up bitter brews (especially the Melitta) from identical beans. Oddly enough, while the Moccamaster was able to whip up very tasty pots from my test coffee (Costco House Blend whole bean, medium grind), the Bunn Velocity Brew BT created a beverage that was slightly smoother and less gritty. Of course, this machine also took only 3 minutes, 30 seconds to brew full 10-cup pots.
On the flip side however, when I used a more premium coffee variety (specifically Capresso Grand Aroma) the results were dramatically different. The Moccamaster repeatedly created a brew that was deliciously smooth, complex, and almost velvety in nature. By contrast, themade a cup that was rougher, slightly more bitter on the back end, and flatter tasting, albeit starting with the same beans.
This would seem to jive with the Bunn's higher extraction percentage compared with the Moccamaster's lower extraction rates. On our tests, the Moccamaster demonstrated coffee with a TDS (total dissolved solids) of 1.1 percent (23.2 percent extraction). The Bunn achieved a much higher extraction percentage of 30.4 (1.4 TDS). It is commonly accepted within coffee aficionado circles that the ideal extraction percentage is between 18 to 22 percent. Anything beyond that is thought to be over-extracted, yielding less desirable compounds from any given sample of grounds.
Another bright spot in the Moccamaster's performance is its ability to keep its brewed coffee hot for hours. Indeed, the thermal carafe was able to keep its contents at 150 degrees (F) for a marathon 6 hours, the longest I've measured from a thermos-equipped coffee maker.
If you were to take a poll among coffee fanatics and serious foodies alike as to which brand of drip coffee maker is top dog, I'd bet dollars to donuts Technivorm would be the first name that crossed their lips. But is this reflex warranted? If my experience with the Moccamaster KBT 741 is any judge, I'd emphatically say yes. I admit that this machine is very expensive, and at $300 US (£200, AU$379) it's sure to be way out of many people's budgets, especially for a luxury appliance. Be aware, though, that other devices are hot on the Moccamaster's heels, specifically the Bonavita BV 1800TH ($180), which is built to offer similar drip brewing performance but for less.
That said, with its compellingly thoughtful design, metallic good looks, and consistently delectable batches of drip coffee, the Moccamaster should be on any coffee lover's short list. Throw in its ability to keep coffee hot for a lengthy 6 hours, and yes, its bubble-filled brewing process, and you've got one machine that's hard to top.