Moccamaster is perhaps one of the most recognised speciality coffee brewers on the market today. It has established itself as an easy-to-use, reliable and durable machine that serves well the home user, as well as the speciality cafe. But what is the story of its development and who are we to thank for it?
From step ladders to worldwide popular coffee brewer
Moccamaster is produced by Technivorm, a Dutch company that has been founded already in 1964 by Gerard-Clement Smit. Mr Smit, an industrial engineer, used to, at first, design industrial products for other companies, before launching his own company Technivorm. It was in 1964, and his first products were step ladders and shelving systems. The coffee products only came later, first with the introduction of KM1 coffee grinder in 1965, later successfully sold by Douwe Egberts. It was the first coffee grinder to introduce a fan system preventing the overheating of the coffee and is still produced today.
It was also at Douwe Egberts that Mr Smit got the idea to build a coffee machine. Mr Frans van Cooten, Moccamaster Sales’ CEO, tells us: “It was at the end of ‘66 that Mr Smit saw a coffee machine at Douwe Egberts (DE) and then took up the challenge to develop a better machine. Which was the ‘68 [model] that came onto the market for the first time in 1969, at the time exclusively for DE.” Mr Smit’s ultimate goal had always been creating a durable coffee machine: “I want to create the best cup of coffee with a coffeemaker that lasts a lifetime. A Moccamaster should be the last brewer you’ll ever buy,” are Mr Smit’s words that serve as one of the company’s mottos.
In the beginning, Mr Smit was designing and constructing the first grinders himself. His team eventually grew from a small team of six to a big factory that it is today, in Amerongen, employing over 150 people.
Technivorm grew exponentially in its inaugural years. First, Moccamaster won over the Dutch market thanks to a partnership with Douwe Egberts to sell 150 000 machines within a six-years time. This contract was fulfilled already in 1970, the first year, for the great success of the machine. Subsequently, Technivorm celebrated success also in the United States, Germany, and other European countries and around the world. Scandinavia, however, became the biggest European importer of the Moccamaster machine. The brand remains one of the leaders of the market to this date, although it is not the major player on the Dutch market anymore.
The iconic KBG 741 model is an evergreen
Although Technivorm has produced several different types of the Moccamaster, the most iconic must be KBG 741, introduced in 1974. This brewer is still produced to this date and is widely used by the speciality coffee lovers. After all, Technivorm has always been very involved with the Specialty Coffee Association [then Speciality Coffee Association of Europe]. Technivorm Moccamaster has been the SCA-approved machine of the World Cup Tasters Championship as well, already since 2014. It is its official sponsor until 2020.
Mr van Cooten adds: “Mr Smit was one of the first members of the Specialty Coffee Association [of Europe], who was there from the beginning. The approach has always been to learn from each other and to achieve the best extraction result.”
Technivorm brewers have also followed the quality standards of the European Coffee Brewing Centre (ECBC), resulting in the whole Technivorm range receiving the ECBC Seal of Approval. This also makes Technivorm the only company to receive this approval seal on all of their products.
KBG 741 is a great example of the evolution of the company. We asked Mr van Cooten what makes KBG 741 the most popular of Moccamasters: “The design of the 741 has proven to be iconic. Also often (moderately) copied by competitors but this design in combination with the craft production appeals to many people. The device also looks solid and radiates that it will last a long time.”
Since it was launched in 1974, KBG 741 went through a few changes. “A big change was of course first the design and switch from plastic housing to aluminium housing. Although this significantly increased the bare cost price, it was a conscious choice to opt for durable materials,” Mr van Cooten explained. The assembly line in Amerongen, The Netherlands uses mainly materials produced in the country or outsourced from European producers. The company focuses on building their machines with recyclable materials, constructing them the way that a faulty part can be easily removed and exchanged, ensuring the least wastage and pollution.
In addition to more sustainable material choices, the most significant change, recognised by anyone who has ever seen a Moccamaster, is the selection of colours that it comes in. “When it comes to the choice of colours, we naturally follow the trends. We have just introduced four new colours and if the interest for a certain colour decreases, this is taken out of the assortment,” van Cooten stated.
Currently, KBG 741 comes in the classic black, silver and white colours, but also in yellow pepper, brick red and other fresh and bright colours that are to fit any kitchen top or cafe bar. The latest addition of four new colours means KBG 741 currently comes in a total of 21 different colours.
The classic model is easily recognised by its rectangular body, a glass jug that can take up to ten cups of coffee, and a plastic black filter cone. There are also a few features that were brought with the evolution of the brewer. In 1994, for example, the automatic drip-stop function was introduced, to stop the flow of water through the brew basket, in case the glass jug was removed.
Since Moccamaster's launch, the brewing element has worked on the principle of a flow-through cooking element. Nowadays, it is made of copper, ensuring that the brewing water is always set at 92℃–96℃. The flow-through element was produced by Technivorm for years before it was outsourced to third parties.
Moccamaster for the speciality cafe
Although the above features are great for a family household, a cafe that turns over dozens of mugs of filter coffee a day might not find it the best fit. That is perhaps why the future models offered more drastic changes to the design, making the brewer more adaptable to the cafe environment.
In 2000, the thermos version was introduced, replacing the glass one, for example. This offered the rather small cafe the option of serving batch-brewed coffee, without having large wastage. This proved to be very helpful to the cafes that did not need a large-quantity batch brewer, and who did not have the capacity to brew only hand-brews either. Moccamaster is a middle way between a big, almost industrial brewer, and a single-serve hand brew.
Moccamaster for one
While the popularity of the home brewer grew and gained the attention of professional users, so did the individual's strive for the perfect cup of coffee. Moccamaster did not ignore this and brought a smaller version of their brewer.
In 2013, Technivorm thus introduced the Moccamaster Cup-one, which brews 0,3 l of coffee in 3 minutes. Its body looks just like KBG 741, but instead of a glass decanter, you are brewing directly into a cup.
Future of brewing with Moccamaster
The fact that Moccamasters are highly automated drip machines is sometimes a point of critique, though. For some of the geeky users in our industry, there are some downfalls to the way that the machine brews. Some critique it for the lack of agitation in the initial bloom time, when the first portion of water hits the coffee grounds. For others, it is the lack of the option to adjust the brew time and water ratio.
The way that the machines function though is largely due to a lot of research that went into it. In cooperation with the ECBC and the SCA, Moccamasters are built to deliver the best cup of coffee possible.
Nevertheless, Technivorm also listens to their customers and, although the design of KBG 741 will stay the same, later this year, Technivorm is planning a release of a new feature of their iconic brewer—an adjustable throughput to influence the coffee strength.
Technivorm celebrated 50 years in 2014, and in 2017, they reached the incredible 10 million pieces produced since the first ‘68 model was made. Before they hit this incredible mark, there were already 4.5 million machines in daily use in Scandinavia only.
Mr Gerard-Clement Smit got to live to experience the celebration of the 10 millionth piece to be produced in Amerongen. The round-up piece was produced and gifted to Mr Smit to commemorate the production and as a gift for his last birthday. The piece is exposed at Amerongen with photography of the inventor.
We look forward to seeing what the 55-year-old company will bring to the ever-changing speciality-coffee industry. We have no doubt it will keep the classic and iconic features though, only adding to the list of innovative ideas and quality materials.