Last year, we created a video offering tips on how to get the most from the Moccamaster KBG that’s proven valuable to many. The more recent release of the Moccamaster KBG Select provided us with the perfect opportunity to revisit our favourite automated filter coffee brewer and take a detailed look at some of its updated features, which includes a switch to adjust water flow for smaller or larger batch sizes.
We also revisit and expand on some the brewing tips we recommend for getting the most from each batch brewed with the Select, including grind size and recipe recommendations.
The same overview and brewing tips found within this piece can also be experienced visually and aurally via our video on the brewer, which can be found at the bottom of this entry.
Breaking down the Moccamaster
Having started manufacturing their products in The Netherlands in 1968, Moccamaster continue to hand make their units there today. The first KBG was first released in 1974 and, whilst the team at Moccamaster have continued to iterate on the original design, you can still clearly see the original silhouette within newer models of this now classic countertop brewer.
When brewing, the first element you come into contact with is the BPA free plastic reservoir. Labelled with volumetric markings, these provide a very useful guide that ensures you're always adding the right quantity of water for your chosen dose of coffee.
The water then drips through to a copper heating element that sits within the brewer's casing and, once hot, is fed via a glass pipe inside the reservoir through the 9-hole metal shower head. This sprays your water onto your ground coffee, which is housed in a ridged plastic brew basket (also BPA free). These ridges help keep your filter paper away from the basket's walls, helping to promote water flow.
A simple but smart plug is also housed under the basket, which will only open when the glass jug is placed underneath it. This is handy should you wish to experiment with pre-infusion, but also means you should ensure your jug is squarely in place before beginning the brewing process.
The glass jug is fitted with a lid that includes a thin, black destratification pipe. Descending down into the jug, it aims to help avoid your coffee layering (i.e. not mixing together) and provides more consistent cups.
What's in the box?
Alongside all of the above, on unboxing your Moccamaster KBG Select, you'll also find a few filter papers, a scoop (although we recommend having scales to hand to ensure you stick to a consistent, repeatable recipe each time), a sachet of cleaner to keep everything clean and scale-free over time, and an instruction manual. Each unit also comes with a 5 year manufacturer's warranty.
As with any brand new piece of brewing apparatus, we would advise running an empty cycle before brewing coffee.
The Select switch: a new feature
The new Select switch offers two different flow rates, depicted on the Moccamaster by an icon of a half batch of coffee, and another showing a full batch. This doesn't mean you need to brew batch sizes of exactly 50% or 100%, but it does mean that the rate the water passes through the brewer can be selected to run either more slowly (for smaller batches) or more quickly (for larger batches).
For us, this is a fantastic and exciting addition to the brewer, as it adds greater flexibility to the brewing process. As well as providing the opportunity for fuller extraction in smaller batch sizes than its predecessor, this additional variable also allows you to offset imperfect grind settings should you need to. For instance, if your hands are tied by pre-ground coffee that's a little too coarse when brewing a full batch, you can run the brewer on the half batch size to achieve a fuller extraction. Equally, if you're pre-ground coffee is finer than you'd ideally like, you can utilise the full batch setting to creater a quicker extraction with a reduced chance of stewed, over-extracted notes.
Which flow setting for which quantities?
For anything up to and including 750ml of water and 45g of coffee, we would recommend using the half batch setting. For bigger batches of 1L to 1.25L we would suggest the full batch setting.
Suggested grind sizes
Despite our detailed and ongoing testing across a range of grinders, it is always worth noting that any suggested grinder settings are always a staring point. Even highly calibrated, professional-use grinders are subject to variation and nuance, but this is even more true of at-home variants. That said, the following should provide a useful springboard into finding your sweet spot:
For a brews up to 750ml...
For a brews over 750ml...
As a rule of thumb, taste your coffee and if it's a little thin and sour, fine up your chosen grind, and if it's tasting bitter, astringent and stewed, coarsen it up a little.
Brewing with the Moccamaster KBG Select
After folding your Size 4 filter paper and popping it in the brew basket, we find it easiest to weigh our beans into this and then, when grinding them, quickly rinse the paper under the tap before filling up the reservoir to the desired level.
It's worth noting that the volumetric markings on the reservoir will not correspond directly to the amount of coffee that eventually finds itself in your glass jug. This is because the grounds retain anywhere between 2 to 3 grams of water per gram of coffee. So, if you fill the reservoir to the 1 litre mark, you can expect a batch of around 850ml of coffee.
With your coffee ground and added to your rinsed filter paper, simply pop your brew basket in place and flick the start button. In theory, there's nothing nothing else to do but weight a few minutes for your coffee to be ready to drink and enjoy.
However, we've enjoyed even better results in the cup from the Moccamaster KBG Select by enlisting one small, but for us important, extra step: stirring.
We're aware that this divides the crowd. A relatively expensive brewer, and one that's billed as automated, many are reluctant to have to be present during the brewing process. We completely understand and by simply turning on the Moccamaster and walking away you'll still get very tasty cups of filter from the process. However, we very much advocate getting in there with a teaspoon to ensure all of your grounds are evenly wet. You're more reliably going to get nice round, sweet cups of coffee with that extra bit of agitation during the brewing cycle. The fact that you are actually able to access your grounds and water during the process is a major benefit the Moccamaster has over many other automated drip brewers, so we'd highly recommend taking advantage.
A somewhat hot topic amongst home brewers, we're often asked whether we'd recommend using the hotplate function on the Moccamaster, which, unless you turn the brewer off once it has finished its brew cycle, remains on for 45 minutes after brewing. It is worth noting that your coffee will degrade as it sits on the hotplate and, as time goes on, may become a little briney and less aromatic. For this reason, we prefer to brew enough coffee to drink immediately portioning it out accordingly. Ultimately, though, it all boils down to personal preference.
Cleaning & Care
The moment your brew is done, throw away your filter and grounds immediately and rinse the basket. Minimising the contact time between the brew basket and coffee oils will reduce the frequency with which you’ll need to deep clean the plastic basket with cafiza or a similar cleaning chemical.
As a rule, if you’re using water that deposits scale, then you should also run through some descalant after 100 brew cycles. This is easy to remember if you’re buying packs of 100 filter papers. At the same time, I’d recommend filling the basket with Cafiza or something similar and scrubbing with a brush to get into the ridges and get rid of any built up flavour taint.
The Moccamaster KBG Select is available in the hardware section of our online shop. If you have any follow-up questions on getting more from this brewer, be sure to contact our Home Brewing Helpdesk on firstname.lastname@example.org.
The era of the self-flagellating barista is over.
Overly obtuse and complicated brewing procedures that were once entertaining and exciting are now simply annoying. “There are no points for difficulty in coffee”. What really matters is using fantastic coffee and thoroughly enjoying the cups that you brew.
To that end we’ve been on the hunt for an automatic filter coffee brewer that we aren’t just happy to recommend, but wholeheartedly endorse, stock and sell to our customers.
When we first dipped our toes into the world of auto-brewers we knew that we had to do a lot of experimenting. Upon testing a wide range of drip coffee makers we were scoring the machines in the following categories:
We looked at how comfortable and easy it is to engage with the machine, in preparing a pot, brewing and cleaning down, assessing the tactile qualities of the materials as well as sturdiness.
Assessing whether the machine is able to get the water up to an adequate brewing temperature, how quickly it does so and how stable it remains throughout the brewing process
We trialled different recipes and techniques with each brewer, playing every role from skilled barista to someone half-asleep and feeling lazy in the morning. We rinsed filter papers, agitated as necessary and levelled the coffee bed for a more involved brewing procedure, but also trialled simply adding coffee and water by eye, with no intervention during the brewing process. Our thoughts behind these tests were that the better brewer would be the one that can adequately extract the coffee in a range of different scenarios. Using a refractometer we could check which machine brewed a stronger cup when using the same dose of coffee and water, thus informing us as to the more efficient option.
It wouldn’t do to simply test the brewers once, so we brewed pot after pot of a wide range of coffees using water of varying hardness to see how the brewers coped in multiple scenarios.
Good things come to those who wait, but you can’t deny that your first cup in the morning can’t arrive quickly enough. Given that the machines will be popular in offices and cafes as well as in the home we wanted to make sure we selected a brewer that doesn’t take an age to produce a pot.
You can’t overlook the importance of a slick looking machine. The footprint of the machine as well as the choice and finish of materials needs to lead to a pleasing aesthetic.
Value for Money:
There are some super cheap and some crazy expensive automatic brewers out there. It was important to us to find something with good build quality but not cost the earth, as the more people that can enjoy our coffee, the better.
Obviously this relies on the brewer delivering well on the above criteria, but we made sure to taste, taste and taste again to ensure the brewer reliably produces something utterly delicious.
Our Winner: The Technivorm Moccamaster
The Moccamaster ticked every box for us, and we’ve since been using it to brew fresh pots every day in the Workshop Coffee roastery as an extension of our roasted coffee QC program (and to perk the team up during a day’s roasting and packing).
A lesson in utilitarian, industrial aesthetic and a great example of quality manufacturing, the machine is hand-built in the Netherlands and comes with a 5 year manufacturer’s warranty.
We were able to brew well extracted pots of coffee with minimal intervention, and have put together this concise brewing guide for those wanting to get the best out of their investment.