The filter strikes back

FRESH BREW: Aaron Maxwell serves up some Moccamaster magic at Everyday Coffee in Melbourne.
FRESH BREW: Aaron Maxwell serves up some Moccamaster magic at Everyday Coffee in Melbourne.

Filter brewing is a bit of a cult, and like all cults it has its fetish objects. While artisan coffee pros tend to prefer manual brews such as pourover, there's a growing band of enthusiasts for one automatic drip brewer: the Moccamaster.

If the Moccamaster looks like something your uncle has kept in the back of his kitchen cupboard for a couple of decades, that might be because the basic design dates to 1964.

Its creator, Gerard-Clement Smit, still heads Technivorm, the company that makes them, and they're still hand-built - by human hands - in a small factory in the Netherlands. They are alarmingly simple: no electronics, just wiring, switches and a copper element.

There are two models - one with a glass pot and a hotplate, the other with a thermal jug. Wary of diner-style brew-and-stew, baristas lean towards the thermal jug, which keeps coffee at a drinkable temperature for an hour or so without too much deterioration in flavour.

All of this gives the Moccamaster plenty of retro-Nordic cred. It also makes pretty good filter coffee, once you figure out what you're doing.

The key, says Mark Free, of Everyday Coffee in Collingwood, is to get the grind right - coarser than a pourover, he says, but finer than a French press. Too fine and it will drip through slowly, making over-extracted coffee; too coarse, and the extraction will be too fast, resulting in weak, soupy flavours.

''Keep an eye on the column of water in the cone,'' says Free. ''You want about one to two centimetres of water above the coffee bed. That gives good, even pressure on the coffee.''

There's also convenience for busy cafes. Reuben Mardan, from Sample Coffee in Surry Hills, says they've switched to the Moccamaster for their filter brews because it's less labour-intensive, and therefore cheaper and quicker for the customer.

''We were selling maybe two pourovers a day,'' Mardan says. ''With the Moccamaster our record filter day is 44 cups.''

Single Origin Roasters head barista Sean McManus encourages long black drinkers to try Moccamaster brews because they are quick and offer a more complex cup.

Espresso Workshop sells Moccamasters here in NZ. 

- Good Food