A premium filter coffee machine that brews good coffee, comes with a generous warranty and offers lifelong repairability
- Brews good coffee
- Easy to use
- 5 year warranty
- Doesn’t feel substantial
- Water head could pour better
The Moccamaster KBG Select is a cut above your everyday filter coffee machine – a machine handmade in the Netherlands with a five-year warranty and a spare parts catalogue that should see the machine’s serviceable life measured not in years but in decades.
Naturally, this kind of quality comes at a price. Moccamaster builds a wide range of premium-priced filter coffee machines, stretching right up to office-caffeinating behemoths capable of serving 144 cups of coffee per hour but the £229 KBG Select is the most familiar-looking of the lot and – probably – the most sensible choice for the home.
Moccamaster KBG Select review: What you need to know
The KBG Select is a winsomely retro-looking filter coffee machine that brews between four and ten cups of coffee. It’s as simple to use as you’d expect with one button to turn it on and start the brewing process and another half-jug button to slow the brewing process to maximise flavour when you don’t need a full pot of coffee. This extra button, incidentally, is what earns the machine its Select moniker.
On the subject of names, it’s worth knowing that the KBG Select is also available as the KBGV Select in the US. It’s exactly the same machine (barring the 120V supply and US plug), but the added V ensures that no one inadvertently assumes any affililiation with similarly-named Russian security agencies.
As the price indicates, this is not a run of the mill coffee machine. In fact, the KBG Select is accredited by the European Coffee Brewing Center and the Specialty Coffee Association for the quality of the coffee it produces. This is thanks in no small part to Moccamaster’s copper heating element, which maintains a brewing temperature of between 92°C and 96°C. This temperature stability draws the best flavour from the coffee grounds; as coffee aficionados will attest, lower brew temperatures taste sour, and hotter brews taste bitter.
And if aesthetics are just as important to you than the quality of the coffee, the KBG Select also hits the mark. The bold, industrial-looking design has a decidedly unmodern charm to it but you can take your pick from a wide range of colours – 21 to be precise – so there’s no excuse for not having a filter coffee machine that perfectly complements your kitchen.
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Moccamaster KBG Select review: Price and competition
While many, if not most, filter coffee machines cost a fraction of the price of the KBG Select, there are several premium alternatives you might also consider.
Within Moccamaster’s own ranges, there are a couple of interesting home machines. The £210 Moccamaster Cup-One is the specialist machine for really small households, brewing a single mug of filter coffee at a time, while the £239 KBGT machine swaps the glass jug and hotplate of the KBG Select for an insulated thermal jug.
The £260 Sage Precision Brewer is the main rival outside the Moccamaster stable, and this allows you to control bloom time, brew temperature and flow rate, not to mention dabble with iced and cold brew coffee brewing. If any of those terms mean anything to you, and instil excitement rather than fear, then it’s likely to be right up your street.
If you’d rather spend your cash on premium coffee than a pricey machine, there’s one obvious choice. Buy a plastic Hario V60 for around a tenner. Simply pop it on top of a mug or jug, add coffee to a paper filter and pour over hot water from your kettle. With zero effort, you’ll get good results; take the time to refine the brewing process, however, and you can make truly world-class coffee without having to spend hundreds on a machine.
Moccamaster KBG Select review: Features and design
Once you’ve decided on the perfect colour to match your kitchen, there’s not much else to think about. Find a space on the kitchen counter – which isn’t hard given the compact 32 x 36 x 17cm (WDH) dimensions – plug it in, and that’s about as complex as the setup process gets.
There is a tiny bit of preparation before the first brew – you need to attach the water spout and slide the coffee jug into place – but this isn’t a machine that will have you reaching for the manual. Arm yourself with a box of size-four paper filters, some good quality coffee of your choice, and you’re good to go.
Two reassuringly solid-feeling buttons adorn the front edge, with one turning the machine on and the other selecting the half-jug mode. This, as I mentioned earlier, slows down the flow of water and ensures the machine extracts the optimum amount of flavour from smaller doses of coffee.
Moccamaster KBG Select review: Brewing coffee
Making coffee couldn’t be simpler. Once you’ve added the coffee to the paper filter and filled the 1.25-litre water tank, pressing the on button sets the brewing process in motion, a small red LED glowing to let you know that the machine is operating.
The heating element gets to work quickly, sending through hot water within around 20 seconds and the whole brewing process for a full ten-cup jug of coffee takes around six minutes, which matches Moccamaster’s claims. The hot water element turns off automatically once the water tank is empty (add more, and it kicks back into action automatically), but the hot-plate stays on for a preset 40 minutes to keep the jug from going cold.
I’ve been using the KBG Select for several months now, and it’s unfailingly consistent. I fire up my grinder, which is preset to produce around 70-75g of ground coffee, pop this into the machine and add some Brita-filtered water, and, minutes later, I’m presented with 1.25 litres of fine-tasting filter coffee. It’s so simple, so hassle-free, that the espresso machine has been gathering dust for some time now. The lure of low-effort, great-quality coffee is just too strong.
Another thing I’ve come to appreciate about the KBG Select is the hotplate – it’s one of the few examples I’ve come across that doesn’t impact the flavour of the coffee noticeably. Where both cheaper and moderately pricey machines I’ve owned have tended to rapidly stew the coffee, leaving it tasting harsh and bitter, the KBG Select keeps the coffee hot but not overly so – around 80c to 85c according to Moccamaster’s specifications – and this doesn’t produce any unwanted side effects.
Moccamaster KBG Select review: What could be better?
The quality of the coffee from the KBG Select is consistent – and very good – but it’s not perfect, and this is due to a couple of simple reasons.
For one thing, there’s no bloom time included in the brewing process. Filter coffee aficionados tend to allow coffee to bloom at the beginning of the brewing process, and this – pouring a little hot water on the coffee to allow the CO2 to escape – ensures the brewing process extracts all the good flavours from the coffee. This isn’t something which the KBG Select does, so, if you want to replicate the process, you’ll need to allow a certain amount of water to pour onto the grounds then flick the off switch for 30-40 seconds and wait while the coffee grounds bubble and burst as the gases escape.
Another very particular moan is that the water head could pour water more evenly over the ground coffee. It tends to mostly pour on one side, and this means that, particularly with higher doses of coffee, some of the ground coffee is less evenly wetted and extracted than the rest. A simple solution, again, is just to lift the lid and give it a stir now and again, and this is worth doing if you want the best results.
My final gripe is a purely superficial one. While I appreciate the cost of hand-building machines in the Netherlands, there’s no question that the KBG Select is extremely expensive for what it is. What’s more, it doesn’t feel particularly substantial. The plastic parts feel (unsurprisingly, perhaps) plasticky, the glass coffee jug doesn’t feel especially robust, and the machine is, objectively, rather lightweight.
In a world where we associate quality with heft and weight, this does leave the KBG Select feeling a tad underwhelming. Given the machine’s reputation, I was rather expecting a lead-weighted, coffee-brewing tank of a thing, rather than the dainty, lightweight machine I found when I unpacked it.
Is this a big issue? No, of course not. Nothing has broken in the five months I’ve been using the machine, and the five-year warranty adds welcome peace of mind, not to mention Moccamaster’s promise that spare parts will be available well into the foreseeable future. This machine is quite clearly built to last and to be repaired when things do go wrong.
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Moccamaster KBG Select review: Verdict
In a world filled with increasingly fiddly coffee machines, the sheer simplicity of a good filter coffee machine is highly alluring. Add cold water and ground coffee, then press a button: minutes later, a jug is filled with hot black coffee. It is a simple delight.
It’s also something many cheaper filter coffee machines routinely find impossible to do well. The KBG Select is expensive; perhaps even too expensive for what it is. But it does such a good and consistent job of making good coffee that it’s hard to resent the investment. And when that investment is repaid by a firm that insists on hand-building every machine and giving each a five year warranty, you do at least have some idea where that money is going.
If you want consistently great coffee without the faff, then Moccamaster has answered your call. The KBG Select is probably as close as you’ll get to hassle-free, coffee brewing perfection.