In the world of coffee brewers, there’s a pretty big gap between SCA-certified home brewers, like the Bonavita 1900 series or the Technivorm Moccamaster, and commercial brewers, which need to be plumbed and sometimes even hardwired. The consumer models tend to max out around a liter capacity, while commercial machines are optimized for brewing 3+ liters of coffee.
Last year, faced with a catering job for 50+ people, we picked up a Marco Bru F45m, a manual-fill coffee brewer capable of brewing up to 1.8 liter batches. That weekend, we broke in the brewer, going through over 20 pounds of coffee in two days. Since then we’ve used it at dinner parties, family gatherings, and even some Saturday mornings when I felt like drinking all of the coffee.
Every brewing device has an ideal brewing capacity, and the sweet spot for the Marco Bru 45 seams to be around 1.5 liter batches (with a 90 gram dose).
We’ve used the brewer to make as little as 60 gram/1 liter, but to maintain an industry standard bed depth of 4-5 mm, one has to use at least 80 grams of coffee.
The brewer functions like most consumer coffee brewers. When on, the brewer heats any water in the reservoir. Once it reaches the proper temperature, it’s distributed through a shower head.
Probably the best feature of the Marco Bru F45m is the water distribution. Simply put, it far out performs other brewers in this category, like the larger Technovorm brewers and even commercial brewers like Fetco. After every brew the brew bed is almost perfectly level, with only a small ridge around the outer perimeter. (That can be mitigated by giving the basket a little shake during brewing.)
The brewer comes to temperature very quickly. We’ve used it in some very high volume situations, and it did a remarkable job keeping up. We don’t have a way measuring the temperature of the basket during brewing, but we measured our extractions and found it very easy to hit and industry standard 20% extraction.
We have two primary issues with the Marco Bru. The first is the hotplate.
Although the hot plate on top of the brewer can be turned on or off, the bottom plate is on whenever the brewer is on, including during brewing. We’re big believers in not applying heat to brewed coffee (it causes an increase in bitter chlorogenic acid). It’s unlikely the 4-5 minutes it takes to brew the coffee will do too much damage, but it would be nice to be able to turn the hot plate off.
Secondly, the lack of a pre-wet feature makes us believe we’re not getting the best possible brew out of the machine. A pre-wet phase, or “bloom,” allows trapped carbon dioxide to escape from the coffee grounds by applying a small portion of the brew water (usually 10-15%) and waiting for 30-45 seconds. It’s a standard feature in most commercial brewers, as well as any decent pour-over technique. You can approximate a pre-wet feature by simply turning the brewer off as soon as the coffee starts to drip, but it’s difficult to perform with any consistency.
The Marco Bru F45m is a great coffee brewer for caterers, offices, or even small cafés doing a low volume of drip coffee. Although not without issues, the superior water distribution makes for a high quality extraction, especially compared to other brewers in the category.