Technivorm-- often abbreviated TV-- has a well-deserved reputation for high-quality, proper brewing products for drip coffee. I chose the 10-cup (1.25L or about 42oz), stainless-steel vacuum carafe KBT-741. Their brewers come in other models, including a smaller SS carafe and hot-plate glass carafes.
Brewing is a simple process: place water in reservoir, fill basket with filter and grounds of your choice, turn on the heating element, place the carafe under the basket, and wait. The first drop of water in the basket takes about 20 seconds, since the water has to be really heated to boiling before it is expelled
Brewing temperature is indeed hot. I've measured by thermocouple at a steady 200F in the basket. Also, a pre-heated carafe (with 120F tap water) allows the remaining mug in the carafe to stay warm, up to 145F after an hour and a half. (Note that a 200F drinking temperature is *not* desirable; the 200F is required only for brewing, and then warm temperatures for drinking. You'd have to let a 200F cup cool before drinking anyway, so why keep it there?) Once started, the brewing process for a full pot takes the standard SCAA 4 minutes, so it's faster than most home brewers.
There are a couple of nice touches in the design:
- Drip slow/stop tab. The basket has a tab that allows you to slow or stop the drip from the basket. You can use them as I do, or perhaps you just can't wait for those other two minutes of brewing to get your first cup. We frown in our snobbery, but it is your brew.
- Brew stop button. The outflow of heated water won't happen unless a button at the base of the stand is pressed in; this is designed to allow brewing only when a container (presumably the carafe) is in place.
- Overflow channel. The brew basket has an overflow that directs the overflow down the side of the basket into the carafe. My Krups just overflows, and maybe the carafe catches it, maybe it doesn't.
- Dissasembly allowed. The brew head sits on a silicone rubber tower and can be removed for cleaning. However, the reservoir and heat chamber cannot be dissasembled without a funny-head screwdriver; I haven't gone in there yet and I'm not sure I'll ever want to. If I do, I'll let you know what I find out. My Krups won't come apart without some manufacturer know-how.
Brewing is as simple as in any other standard home drip brewer, but the Technivorm allows me to become more fussy during the process:
- The basket is accessible for opening during the brewing. This allows me to stir the grounds and reduce the bloom effect, since I roast my own beans and get a *lot* of bloom.
- I use the half-drip position on the drip-stop tab to slow the outflow of the brew, providing for a greater extraction. This is useful since I don't usually perform a full 10-cup brew. I usually slow and stop the brew intermittently, keeping the basket liquid level steady.
A peeve I've had with all drip brewers is the plastic components in the brew stream. I know this is standard, but even after cleaning with brew-through detergent solution, I note a faint smell of coffee. The ridges in the basket prevent a good cleaning without some kind of bristle brush (coming soon by UPS, and may or may not change this for me). These odors don't noticeably affect the brew-- or maybe they do and I haven't been able to produce a brew without it to tell. I know the plastic is to keep the costs down, but not being able to remove the faint coffee smell offends the perfectionist in me. Would a SS basket be better? How much more would it cost, $20? $50? I don't know. At least the TV plastic is only in the brew basket.
There were some complaints on the site here earlier about the previous lid design, somehow making for a sloppy pour. The current design is a screw-in lid with a silicone rubber ring; around the lid are four indents that allow coffee to pour when the lid is unscrewed but not removed. Simply unscrew the lid and align the handle vertically or horizontally. Pouring with the lid on is slow, but steady; with the lid off, pouring fast is not recommended as it will still be sloppy against the smaller round opening and flat and angled rim. However, the tradeoff is that the coffee stays warm without a heating element.
Technivorm changed the carafe design recently, streamlining the shape and giving it a flat-handled lid. (The picture on the upper left of this page shows the old carafe.) However, the carafe won't sit under the brew basket as the handle on the lid is too tall, even as short as it is-- the pictures you see are without the lid in place. They could have fixed this by making the handle or carafe about a quarter inch shorter, or raising the basket a quarter inch, but perhaps that would have allowed more heat to escape during brewing. In any case I usually sit the carafe an inch out from the basket when the lid is on.