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Technivorm Moccamaster Thermal - Al Ruscelli's Review
Posted: March 7, 2007, 2:05pm
review rating: 9.5
feedback: (6) comments | read | write
Technivorm Moccamaster Thermal Models
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Arrow The Technivorm Moccamaster Thermal has 76 Reviews
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Quality Reviews
These are some of the best-written reviews for this product, as judged by our members.
Name Ranking
Al Ruscelli 9.48
Gregory Scace 8.52
John Frescki 8.33
Don Rutherford 8.00
C W 7.67

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Ratings and Stats Overall Rating: 8.6
Product Reviewed: KBT-741 Moccamaster
Manufacturer: Technivorm Quality: 9
Average Price: Varies Usability: 8
Price Paid: $205.00 Cost vs. Value 8
Where Bought: Boyd Coffee Company Aesthetics 10
Owned for: 2 months Overall 8
Writer's Expertise: I love coffee Would Buy Again: Yes
Similar Items Owned: A Mr. Coffee, of course.
Bottom Line: The KBT-741 Moccamaster is an outstanding coffeemaker, as long as you can live with the shortcomings of the new-style thermal carafe (erratic pour, won't fit under coffeemaker with lid attached).
Positive Product Points

The KBT-741 produces temperatures necessary to brew a great cup of coffee, and it indeed makes some of the best coffee I’ve ever had from a drip coffeemaker.  

SCAA Certified (certified to consistently brew coffee within the optimum brewing range as defined by the Specialty Coffee Association of America).

Overall excellent construction values.  Solidly built and for the most part seems very well engineered.

Aesthetically, I love the looks.  It’s visually different, stands out from the crowd, and has unique character appeal.  

Thermal carafe keeps the coffee nice and hot when lid is screwed on.  

Even though I will be hard on the design in the Negative Product Points section, this is a very good coffeemaker. That is, it is capable of making, and indeed does make, very good coffee.

Negative Product Points

The new-style thermal carafe (without spout) delivers an inconsistent and sometimes very erratic pour.  

The thermal carafe will not fit under the filter basket with the lid attached (perhaps by design, but an annoyance nonetheless).  

(In my Detailed Commentary, I’ll talk about my fix for the thermal carafe fit/height problem. My personal concerns about the carafe are my reasons for not giving the coffeemaker higher usability marks. Except for the carafe-related negatives -- as I perceive them -- this coffeemaker would rate near a 10, in my opinion.)

Manual On/Off switch:  You must remember to switch it off. (Perhaps a minor concern.)

Covers for water reservoir/filter basket seem somewhat flimsy. (Very minor concern.)

Instruction manual somewhat sparse in content, not fully up to date, and has some minor English translation problems. (Very minor concern.)

Detailed Commentary

This coffeemaker is capable of making excellent coffee.  I love the coffee I’m getting from it.  It offers no frills (no clock, no timer, etc.), but does what it does very well, with simplicity and efficiency.  

The KBT-741 is a bit on the pricey side for a drip coffeemaker at right around $200, but you gotta ask yourself, "Do I want to pay $50-$100 for a less-than-satisfying everyday coffee experience, or do I want to amortize the $200 cost of one of these over its lifetime and have great coffee available every day?" If one of these coffeemakers will last 10 years or more (as their reputation seems to indicate they can very well do), it's a small difference in price to pay over the long haul. That's my take on it, anyway.  

So that you clearly understand which model of the KBT-741 I'm reviewing here (and not to be misled by the stock image in the upper left hand corner of this review page), the following link shows the model I have:

www.ruscelli.com/images/Carafe-03.jpg

What are the Height/Width/Depth measurements?  Depends upon whom you ask.  

My Measurements:
Height 15”
Width 11.625”    
Depth 6.75”  

From Technivorm:
Height 14.8”
Width 12”    
Depth 7.1”  

From Boyd’s:                          
Height 15”
Width 11.5”    
Depth not listed.  

So, depending on your source, you’ll get some inconsistencies in listed height/width/depth.  The protrusion of the electrical cord (unless bent at a severe angle) will affect measured or perceived “width.”  Maybe that’s where Technivorm gets their 12” width from.  But the Technivorm listed height is lower than what I measured and the Technivorm listed depth is deeper than I measured.  

I was very careful about the measurements I took with the unit I received so I am confident in their accuracy.  

And to be REALLY picky about the measurements, if the carafe is in place and counted as a measurable part of the entire unit, it will add 1.5 inches to the width or about 1 inch to the depth (depending on the direction the handle is turned), unless the carafe is turned at about a 45 degree angle, in which case it adds nothing measurable to either the width or depth. Picky measurements, yes -- but if you have limited space, you might want to know these things.  What is advertised did not match my out-of-box measurements, even though the differences are not big.  

Watch out for that spray head! It gets very hot. Don’t touch! That 1400 watts really does the trick on heating the water to proper temperature to extract good coffee favor and substance, and that hot water really heats up the spray head as it travels through it.  

Note:  I love seeing the water as it boils and moves up through the transparent tube into the spray head.  It adds something kind of visually neat to the coffee making process. You can actually watch it do part of what it's doing, rather than just hearing it.  

The spray head seems to work very well in dispersing the hot water over the coffee. More water comes out of the farthest end tip than anywhere else, but it still provides a good shower-like effect in soaking the coffee.  I like to keep the filter holder drip switch closed until the holder fills about two-thirds to three-quarters of the way up with water and give the grinds a stir part of the way through the process to ensure a thorough soaking of the coffee (often even stopping the brew process for a couple of extra minutes at this point to allow the grinds to infuse a bit longer -- the Sweet Maria's suggested technique, which works very well). Using that technique you can easily get a feel for adjusting the coffee just to your taste. Cut off the coffeemaker briefly and leave the grounds sitting in the hot water for a couple of minutes longer for stronger tasting coffee or shorten the time for not quite as strong a taste.  

The coffeemaker does retain some water:  After coffee is brewed, the coffee maker will retain one-half cup of water down inside the machine.  If you fill the water reservoir to the point desired, this does not affect how much coffee comes out of the coffeemaker (that extra half cup initially disappears into the coffeemaker, so fill it up to the desired level according to the markings on the sides of the reservoir).  If you fill a measuring container to the desired level then pour it into the empty coffeemaker (one that is not already retaining that half cup from the previous brewing cycle), you’ll lose one-half cup to the coffeemaker (so either use the markings on the reservoir or fill your measuring container by one-half cup more than you need).  In any case,  if the extra water has not been dumped from the coffeemaker from the previous brewing cycle, you’ll still have that extra one-half cup in there to work with.  After making the coffee, that half cup either needs to be dumped by turning the coffeemaker over and emptying it or the extra water will be left for the next brewing cycle.  If you're gonna brew in the next day or so, so big deal.  It the coffeemaker sits for a while and hasn't been emptied of the extra water it retains, you'll have water that's been sitting in there for whatever amount of time the coffeemaker went unused.  

Notes on the Coffee Making Experience

Times and Temperatures

Here’s an example of times and temperatures involved in brewing a 10-cup carafe of coffee using a paper filter. Done at my sea level location with a room temperature of 70 deg. F.  

Filled reservoir with 10 cups of filtered water (water temp 76 deg. F), put five double spoonfuls of coffee into the filter basket and turned on coffee maker. (The thermal carafe has been preheated with hot tap water at this point to help it keep the coffee hotter for a longer time.)  

At about the 30-second mark (or only slightly beyond), hot water started to flow through the spray head and onto the coffee grounds.  

In this case, I kept the filter holder drip switch closed to allow the grounds to soak. At the 2 minute mark after turning on the coffeemaker, the filter holder was nearly full. At that point, I switched the drip switch to the “slow” mark and allowed coffee to start dripping into the carafe. At about the 5 and 1/2 minute mark, the coffeemaker finished pumping out hot water and at the 6 and 1/2 minute mark, the coffee drip from the filter holder had come to a complete stop.

Initial temperature measurements.  

At the spray head:
204 deg. F

In the filter holder:
196 deg. F

In the carafe:                          
185 deg. F

To measure the thermal carafe coffee temps and see how they dropped over several hours time, I sacrificed one carafe full of coffee (10 cups) and opened and took a measurement each half hour after filling the carafe.  I did not pour any coffee, so this won’t generally reflect real life situations of pouring a cup or two, putting the lid back on and pouring more later, but it’s a pretty good indication of the carafe’s ability to retain heat. (Again, the carafe had been preheated with hot tap water, which was dumped just before the drip process started.)  

.5 hours:  
182 deg. F

1 hour:  
178 deg. F

1.5 hours:  
176 deg. F

2 hours:
172 deg. F

2.5 hours:  
170 deg. F

3 hours:  
168 deg. F

3.5 hours  
165 deg. F

4 hours  
162 deg. F

4.5 hours  
160 deg. F

5 hours  
158 deg. F

5.5 hours  
155 deg. F

6 hours  
153 deg. F

Looks like a rough loss of about 5 degrees F per hour on average.  It took a good 7 hours for the temperature of the coffee in the thermal carafe to drop below 150 deg. F. That seems like very good performance.  

In another test, I ran hot water through the coffeemaker and into the carafe -- filling it -- put the lid on, then left it sitting overnight.  The next morning (about 8 hours later) I opened the carafe and measured the temperature of the water and I got a temp of very close to 160 deg. F (maybe just under).

When coffee is initially poured into a cup, its temperature will of course drop a bit, but I have measured it routinely between 150 and 160 deg. F after giving the coffee a few moments in the cup before checking the temperature.  Several things will affect that cup temperature, of course. Is the coffee going into a warm cup or a cold cup (that will immediately sap a lot of the warmth)? What are you adding to the coffee and in what amounts? Even stirring with a cold spoon (especially if you let it sit in the cup after stirring) can drop the coffee temp by a couple of degrees or more.  But even after an hour, you can still pour a cup from the carafe and get that 150-160 deg. F in-the-cup coffee temperature.  

Positive Product Points Revisited in Detail

Bottom line, it produces temperatures necessary to brew a great cup of coffee. And it indeed produces some of the best coffee I’ve had from a drip coffeemaker and does so in a very simple and efficient manner.  

The KBT-741 series of coffeemakers is one of the few  that is SCAA Certified (certified to consistently brew coffee within the optimum brewing range as defined by the Specialty Coffee Association of America).

Overall excellent construction values. Solidly built and for the most part seems very well engineered.

The thermal carafe keeps the coffee nice and hot for an extended time (as long as you have the lid attached), probably longer than you would want to coffee to sit without drinking it.  The carafe seems to hold heat very well.  

Aesthetically, I love the looks.  (Opinions on the look/aesthetics of any machine will vary, of course.)  It’s different and stands out from the crowd.  As a side note, I think the coffeemaker somehow looks bigger in photos (i.e., the typical Internet photos you'll see from vendor to vendor) than it does in person. So, if you’re envisioning something huge based on the photos, it’s really not that big. For some reason, I pictured the coffeemaker -- I think because of the unusual design -- as being larger and taking up more counter space than it does in reality.

Even though I will be hard on the design in the Negative Product Points section, this is a very good coffeemaker. That is, it is capable of making very good coffee, and it indeed delivers the goods in that respect.  But it does have its faults.  

Negative Product Points Revisited in Detail

The new-style thermal carafe delivers an inconsistent and erratic pour.  This new style thermal carafe, with the completely round lip (no spout), looks pretty interesting design-wise, but does not pour well, in my experience.  In fact, I suspected this might be the case even before I used the carafe.  Personally, I think this is the biggest negative strike against the KBT-741.  (But do keep in mind that there are several similar designs of this basic Technivorm that do not use the new thermal carafe, so it's not a deal-breaker by any means.)  

Here are links to photos of the new-style carafe (with and without lid):

www.ruscelli.com/images/Carafe-02.jpg

www.ruscelli.com/images/Carafe-01.jpg

The old style carafe (with spout) apparently had taken some criticism for “dribbling” coffee on occasion (I have no experience with the old style carafe, though).  But the new style delivers a very inconsistent pour.  It takes some getting used to and is workable, but I think that there will be those who absolutely hate it.  Because of the price of the coffeemaker, I wanted to love the carafe.  Do I?  No.  It needs a spout of some sort to deliver a better defined and more consistent pour and to keep it from trying to pour in a wide swath.  Interestingly, the new design does not allow any coffee to dribble down the side of the carafe when pouring.  It cuts off any pour sharply when the carafe is tilted back up (this is a very good thing).  But the flow of coffee out of the carafe when pouring leaves a lot to be desired when compared to other carafe styles.   Very wide swath pours, sometimes "split" pours -- sometimes so bad that coffee actually sloshes outside the intended cup in you're not very careful each and every time you pour.  

To view some of the worst pour examples, please see this page on my website and scroll to the bottom of the page:  

www.ruscelli.com/technivorm.htm

Or view the linked photos directly:

www.ruscelli.com/images/tv_pour_01a.jpg

www.ruscelli.com/images/tv_pour_03a.jpg

www.ruscelli.com/images/tv_pour_02a.jpg

It's not always as bad as shown in those photos, but those examples on are easily repeatable by me, at least with the thermal carafe I received with my KBT-741.  

The thermal carafe will not fit under the filter basket with the lid attached.  Perhaps this was done to keep anyone from forgetting that the lid is on and starting the brewing process with a capped carafe (in fact, this is one of the few reasons I can initially think of for such a design).  However, I see this is a design flaw.  It presents a problem for everyday storage of the carafe when not in use and for placement of the coffee-filled carafe when in use.  An extra 3/8ths inch in coffeemaker height is needed to fit the carafe with lid attached under the filter basket where it belongs. (Or a 3/8ths inch shorter carafe or shorter lid.)  Want to store the carafe, with lid attached, in its place under the filter basket when not in use?  Not gonna happen.  The lid must be kept elsewhere.  And attach the lid to keep the coffee warm when in use with coffee in the carafe and you’ll need to keep the carafe off to the side since it won’t slip into place under the coffeemaker.  If you’re content with keeping the lid of the carafe stored off to the side when the carafe is not being used, you won’t have any complaints.  And if you’re content with keeping the lid on and the carafe off to the side of the coffeemaker, you’ll be fine with it.  As for me, I think these things need improvement. Whatever the rationale for the coffeemaker being designed this way, it doesn’t make sense to me from the standpoint of functionality and aesthetics. Indeed, if the Technivorm design people were concerned with coffee spilling because of the possibility of the cap being left on when starting the brewing process, they should also have had the same concerns with the filter holder drip switch, which can also cause problems if inadvertently left closed (resulting in overflowing of the filter basket).  

Ideas for Technivorm to Improve the Thermal Carafe Design:  Redesign the carafe lid so that the top of the lid is slightly recessed (concave style) with a ridge across the concave recess (much like the current “ridge” that is used to tighten/loosen the lid, but recessed).  If the lid didn’t stick up as far as it currently does, it would not interfere with keeping the carafe in it’s proper place with the lid attached.  I’m sure an engineer could come up with a better design.  For the lid fix, you don’t need to redesign the carafe (although you’d still have the carafe “pour” issue).   But the lid could be redesigned without redesigning the carafe and without redesigning the coffeemaker to be higher.  

Alternative Idea for KBT-741 Height Problem:  Technivorm could always put slightly taller feet on the coffeemaker and solve the problem that way.  My guess is that they wanted to avoid going higher with the coffeemaker and in making that decision they sacrificed functionality with the too-tall lid.  That was mistake (my opinion).  And that is a design flaw (my opinion).  

My Fix for the Carafe/Lid/Coffeemaker Height Problem:  I came up with a "home style" fix for the coffeemaker height/lid height problem by building a $2 ceramic tile platform to raise the coffeemaker one-half inch in height.  See the following web page:

www.ruscelli.com/technivorm_riser.htm

Instruction Manual Sparse in Content, Not Fully Up to Date, and Has Some Minor English Translation Problems:  The instruction manual could be better (single sheet of paper folded in half for a 4-page document).  It’s not fully up to date to include the new carafe, but no big deal.  The manual is not very detailed, not very well fleshed out.  The English version (as with most translations to any language from any other language) contains some of the usual translation goofs.  An example:  “As soon as the brewing process is ready, you can take away the thermojug.”  What they likely mean is “As soon as the brewing process is finished, you can take away the thermojug.”  

Manual On/Off Switch:  You must remember to turn the coffeemaker off. I have been told by others that the heating unit actually does switch off, but the switch light and "on" light do not go out.  Indeed, there seems to be a barely audible click (at least on mine i falls in the 'barely audible' range) once the last of the water has run from the reservoir into the machine. On mine, I have to listen very carefully if I want to hear that "click" or slight "tick" noise, and if there is any other noise in the room whatsoever, there's no hearing it. But it does seem to happen. Whatever the case, this is something else that's not addressed in the brief instruction manual, and this seems like a somewhat glaring omission. When the carafe is pulled away, the white button behind the carafe pops out and the heating element goes off, that much is certain (you can tell that the water stops boiling at that point).  

Perhaps the on/off issue is part of why Technivorm makes it impossible for the carafe with lid attached to be placed under the coffeemaker -- because they don't want the carafe to turn the coffeemaker on when the lid is on the carafe (by virtue of the carafe itself depressing the white "on" button that's located at the unit's base). If you turn the machine off manually  yourself after the brewing process is complete, it's a moot point. But it's easy to forget if you're accustomed to a coffeemaker that cuts itself off.  What I don't understand about the "on/off" issue is why the "on" light (the one located about an inch away from the switch itself) does not go "off" once the brewing process is complete. If it did, it would seem to me much more intuitive for the user to know the status of the coffeemaker.  If the instruction manual addressed this, it would be a moot point -- but it doesn't. And the owner of the coffeemaker really shouldn't really be left to speculate about this.  But since users can't seem to find anything definitive about whether you can leave the machine on or must turn it off  (at, you can't find this info easily, and I spent quite a bit of time looking), it seems to be a question that is mostly left to speculation.  

Covers for Reservoir/Filter Basket:  Covers for the water reservoir and filter basket seem somewhat thin/flimsy.   But this may be a comparative impression -- that is, compared to the overall quality of the coffeemaker as a whole. Not a problem, just an observation. Given the solid build of the rest of the coffeemaker, these parts seem almost out of place with their somewhat "thin" feel.  

Filter Holder Drip Switch:  The one on mine occasionally allowed a few drops of coffee to drip from the bottom of the filter holder even when firmly pushed closed. Most of the time it sealed fully, but occasionally it didn't. I haven’t quite figured out why it was doing that (at least as of the time of this review).  Was that occurring with only mine or do they all have that occasional tendency?  I've not seen any other comments reflecting this same problem, so maybe I got one that has a somewhat faulty seal -- or maybe a small piece of some kind of debris was causing the problem (happened to me somewhat randomly over the course of making a few pots of coffee during the first couple of weeks of use).  

Conclusion:  All in all, I give the KBT-741 high marks and feel very good about it. Were it not for the shortcomings of the thermal carafe (as I perceive them), I could have easily rated this Technivorm offering as somewhere around a 9.5 on a scale of 10 -- which would put it in a pretty elite group. Even with the carafe negatives, it's right up there at the top for all the things does well. If I were to start over again with the same decision-making process, I'd buy the Technivorm again. But I might pass on the thermal carafe version. My mental jury is still out on that and I'll give it a while before revisiting this review at some point in the future (after some "time testing" with my current version). More thoughts at a later date.

Buying Experience

Purchased from Boyd Coffee Company website for $205 January 14, 2007. Fairly straightforward purchase. Some uncertainty on my part whether the coffeemaker was actually in stock at the time.  I had shopped around for the coffeemaker through various vendors, but no one seemed to have it available at the time.  Boyd's seemed to offer the best chance to get it the quickest from their backorder status, as I recall.  

www.boyds.com is the main site but not the purchase site.  

www.boydscoffeestore.com is where you will be redirected for purchase via the Boyd’s Yahoo store (I think I’ve got the "Yahoo store" part right).  

Paid for UPS Express Ground shipping at $11.95 and took delivery in three days, despite the fact that the coffee maker was supposedly on backorder. Kudos for that quick delivery, but no kudos for the inaccuracy of the website info. Turnover of these coffeemakers is apparently too rapid for the vendor to give accurate info on the website, so a phone call is what I’d recommend.  

With paying for express shipping, I would would normally expect some sort of tracking number with my purchase and e-mail receipt, but I got none.  Most vendors send tracking information along to you when you pay for expedited shipping via UPS or other service.  Perhaps with UPS Express Ground service tracking information is just not available.   No tracking was available via the Yahoo linked purchase page either.  

Coffeemaker was packaged and delivered very carefully, both from the vendor and the manufacturer. Solid packaging approach on both fronts.  

A 12 oz bag of ground Boyd's Coffee and a box of filters were included with the order.  Nice bonus from the vendor.  

Color options for the coffeemaker are shown as being available in Graphite, Black, or Chrome, but no pictures are available for anything but Chrome on the Boyd’s site. You’ll have to surf elsewhere to see color options if you don’t want to have to leave it to your imagination.  

None of the websites I visited at the time of my purchase in January 2007 showed the new style carafe, even though that’s what they were delivering. In fact, even the Technivorm box it arrived in showed the old style carafe.  You’d see the old style carafe and assume that’s what you were getting, but the new style carafe is what gets delivered, so I’m sure a lot of people (me for sure) do double-takes upon receipt of the coffeemaker. Since the time of my purchase, vendors have started updating their photos to reflect the new style carafe, but even as of March 2007 the Technivorm website (www.technivorm.com) shows the old style carafe. Seems like Technivorm would have been the first to update the photos on their website, but no. However, the Technivorm website does have one KB-741 coffeemaker on their Domestic Products page that’s set on a color loop so that it shows Chrome/Graphite/Black in a repeating sequence. (Vendors should take note – if you’re gonna sell ‘em, show ‘em.)  

The Technivorm site is certainly worth a visit while doing your research. Check out those dual coffee makers for the home. Cool stuff…  ;-)

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review rating: 9.5
Posted: March 7, 2007, 2:05pm
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