Hotel lobbies. Gas stations. Suburban homes. Starbucks. Wherever it’s found, drip coffee usually gets a bad rap as terrible coffee consumed by people with poor taste. Speaking as a former barista and perennial daily home coffee maker, I do think drip coffee is often bad; it’s either burnt, over-extracted, stale, or just made from horrible beans, and usually prepared by people who, through no fault of their own, have no idea how to make coffee. This isn’t snobbery, and I’m not categorically against drip coffee (I drink it pretty regularly all around town)—this is just usually how it goes. As we all know, drip coffee is sometimes necessary, just like how gas station taquitos can be necessary; and, when we’re lucky, it’s actually really good!
For many years, I was a single-cup pour over person. I’d wake up and turn on my electric kettle, grind whatever beans my Counter Culture subscription had sent me that week, and make a single cup of coffee using something around a 1:17 bean-to-water ratio (everyone has their own perfect number, so don’t @-me). When I met my girlfriend and started making her coffee in the mornings, I’d do two pour overs, which quickly became super tedious. Once we moved in together, I switched to the Chemex and did my best to make a good 600-to-800-gram carafe every morning. This was sufficient for about six months, but then I started getting tired of manually brewing that much coffee. I didn’t want to switch to pod coffee, nor did I want to get a mediocre drip coffee that would sacrifice flavor for ease. So I began the search for a bare-bones drip coffee machine that could hit the right temperatures, disperse water somewhat evenly into the filter, and keep the brewed coffee warm without scalding it. Did such a thing exist? And if so, would it be affordable?
When my research brought me to the Moccamaster by Technivorm, I knew I’d found something special. Supposedly, the copper boiling mechanism heats the water quickly to between 196 and 205 degrees Fahrenheit, which is the premium zone for perfect coffee; and the hot plate keeps the coffee at the ideal temperature based on how much you’ve made. Finally, the outlet arm has a spout-like end that disperses the water around the grounds, not just dumping it in a single stream like most drip machines. Not to mention, the Moccamaster looks like something out of a Jacques Tati film, which is pretty up my alley right out of the gate. I had to have it.
I tested the Moccamaster KBGV Select, and my first impression when I took it out of the box was that it was immediately very straightforward and simple—no plastic bags full of random bits and pieces that my cats would try to steal, no daunting assembly required. You just slide the main components together and it’s ready to go. The Moccamaster’s aesthetic appeal is accentuated by the sheer number of colors it comes in, from pistachio to midnight blue to yellow pepper. I went with off-white because I thought it would look dope in my kitchen (I was right), but you really cannot go wrong with any of them. With only two buttons (on/off and half/full carafe), it’s got a simple interface without too many bells and whistles, and I soon found that it’s easy as hell to operate.
First, I had to clean it out by running two cycles of just water; then, it was ready to go. I followed the chart in the manual about how much water and coffee to use (more on this later), made sure it was set to “half carafe,” pressed the (only other) button, and watched as the water almost immediately started transferring into the boiling area. I was surprised at how quickly it heated, and how soon actual coffee started coming out. Within just a few minutes, there was coffee to be enjoyed. I skeptically poured and sipped the coffee, and was shocked at how clean and fragrant it was; no burnt smell or over-strong taste. It was just a damn good cup of coffee. I breathed a sigh of relief as I washed out the Chemex one last time and placed it on my baker’s rack alongside the other still-active, but not-in-rotation appliances.
The Moccamaster is a very clean machine, and it’s easy to keep it that way. An old-school weighted mechanism in the brew basket moves as you pull the carafe to pour coffee, closing the basket so it doesn’t continue dripping and spill coffee everywhere (it’s fine, we’ve all done it). The water reservoir is easy to fill, and the basket is even easier to remove and rinse. Scarred by various juicers and food processors that have been an absolute pain in the ass to clean, I always expect the worst when I’m testing something new; however, the Moccamaster is one of the most efficient kitchen appliances I’ve ever used. It did everything promised, and more.
I was pretty impressed with the Moccamaster’s numbers. I determined that we need about six cups from this thing every morning, which the manual says is 24 ounces, and my math puts that about 680 grams, which is right in the zone for us. Moccamaster recommends four level scoops for that amount from the scoop that it provided, saying that that amount should be around 41 grams of coffee. Doing the math (680 divided by 41), it seems like the ratio we’re working with here is around 1:16, which is honestly beyond acceptable for a drip coffee machine. By contrast, the coffee machine my mother has, which we unfortunately had to use when we visited for Thanksgiving, makes the strongest, most disgusting coffee I’ve ever had in someone’s home, and I wonder (but am just not inclined to calculate) what the ratio that forsaken machine uses is. It’s got to be like under 1:10. Going forward, I’d like to mess around a little bit with the Moccamaster’s numbers and see whether it’s really possible to acceptably adjust them to make it slightly stronger (like for when my girlfriend’s strong-coffee-loving father visits, so he doesn’t think I make weak ass coffee).
TL;DR: All in all, I’m thrilled with the Moccamaster, which makes incredibly good drip coffee. It takes one button to use, is very easy to clean, and looks like what French people in the 60s thought the future would look like. Just make sure you’re using some good beans, and you, too, can say goodbye to the bad old days of making a humongous pour over (all respect to the Chemex) every morning like a caveman.
Start your drip journey by picking up the Moccamaster on Amazon.
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