- Written by colin newell
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I have been using the workhorse of the coffee world for a good eight years now. So it is high time that I reviewed it. The Newco series of home drip coffee brewers are the most straightforward and user friendly machines for brewing pot after pot of great coffee... perfect coffee. And they are one of the few machines that are given top marks by The Specialty Coffee Association of America. And top marks by me too!
My first machine, the OCS-8, that I bought from Cafe Fantastico (the local dealer) in January of 2002 has been in continuous service since then - 5 days a week, twice a day for 8 years...
That is 4160 brew cycles in 8 years.
One one machine! That is many, many pounds of coffee beans through this one coffee maker.
Photo right - The Twins! The OCS-8 (left) and OCS-12 (right) courtesy of the fantasic folks at BBC Sales in Vancouver B.C.
My original OCS-8 (on the left) I am giving away to an Island area resident who can correctly guess how many pounds of coffee I have put through this machine in 8+ years. Hint: It is between 200 and 400 pounds of coffee beans. The closest guess wins. Vancouver Island area residents only -- if you are in Vancouver or anywhere else for that matter and want to pick it up, but all means join in! E-Mail or Tweet your guess to me.
And what have I done with this machine? Other than cleaning it every few months with a simple descaling product... nothing.
Simple and user friendly drip coffee makers - that appear to be bulletproof.
Let's look a bit closer shall we?
Under the Hood.
The Newco series of coffee makers are well built using commercial grade design and internal components. The heaters are the same quality that are used in commercial brewers - and the most important feature of all shines through: The brew temperature of the Newco series is a perfect 196 to 200 degrees (F) or 98 degrees (C).
It is well known that there is an ideal brew temperature for coffee - but that is not the only critical issue. The other is timing. The Newco OCS-8 brews about 36 fluid ounces of coffee in 6 and 1/2 minutes. In fact, this timing is as important as the brew temperature. You want hot water to come in contact with the ground coffee for a specific amount of time for the ideal extraction times.
The Newco series of coffee brewers nail this timing.
The Newco OCS-8 and OCS-12 use 1400 watt brew elements - kind of the most powerful item you can plug into a single wall socket. It is this very powerful heating unit that allows the OCS series of coffee brewers to get it right.
The OCS-8 by Newco is made of heavy duty moulded plastic - the carafe has a thermos glass liner that assures hot coffee for at least an hour or so after the brew cycle. Both Newco OCS coffee brewers use a very ingenius brew through lid that keeps the air away from the coffee - making sure that the brew is hot and fresh for a good hour. But don't wait that long! All coffee should be brewed for immediate consumption!
Few moving parts! The only thing that moves on the Newco OCS-8 and OCS-12 brewers is the swing out filter holder - the filter holder that holds professional sized basket filters. Unlike the Technivorm KBT-741 (which I also love too!) which has way too many moving parts and fiddly bits - the Newco is a "drop in a filter, water and coffee and press GO" kind of machine. Nothing to adjust or lose. Brilliant.
The Newco series of home coffee brewers have an brew (on) button and off button. That is it. They have auto shut-off as well as the ability to be "plumbed in" - that is, you can attach them to a water supply with an adapter do they are always full and ready to go. And with that feature, the whole concept of "commercial" is pushed home. And of all the pieces of gear that I have ever used, the Newco is the most robust. I have run various coffee grinders into the ground with this machine - and it keeps on ticking and keeps on brewing.
The Newco OCS-8 and OCS-12 were actually created from feedback from consumers and the design engineers quest for the perfect cup of joe. And so far, the NEWCO's have yet to be bested by any other machine.
The Newco series of pro home coffee brewers like having a decent grinder paired with them - but I guess deep down they don't care that much - truth is, you can use any good drip grind (even, GASP, pre-ground) - I always suggest using a good burr grinder with a machine like this - because, guess what: The coffee is going to taste better!
My grinder of choice with the Newco brewers is the Baratza Virtuoso - but the Maestro does a fine job as well.
Will you taste the difference with a better grinder? Yes. Indeed you will.
Because the Newco coffee brewers are simple in design and simple to use, you need nothing more than a supply of water and a supply of coffee (oh, and a 1/2 dozen mugs...) - and coffee filters. The filters use are for commercial baskets - they are cheap (typicaly 100 filters for about 3$ if that. I usually buy 400 filters at a time and that lasts a good part of a year.
So. Water and coffee. Use a good grinder. You will be glad you did. A good burr grinder rewards you with the best and most balanced cup of java. And why that is has been discussed to death on other parts of the website. Sure you can get a blade grinder for $19 but it's only really good for grinding spices - and even that might be a stretch!
The Newco brewers use 1400 watts of electricity from a 110V outlet. You should be able to run one of these puppies on a duplex circuit along with a toaster or hair dryer without worries - why you would do that is another story.
As shown in the cluster of 4 little photos above, the bottom of the brew basket features a "brew-stop" or "non-drip" feature. It is spring loaded so when you pull out the brewer it seals the brew basket from the world below - handy when there are a few drops of coffee left in the basket or some condensation. NIce touch. Next photo: the carafe lid is an impressive combination of floats and bearings to keep air getting into the carafe... crafty you might say - and it works. The manual that comes with the Newco series of coffee makers is very complete - and guess what, it comes with a parts list - because this is a semi-commercial brewer and everything is replaceable. And like I said earlier I am on my original machine - 8 years and 1/4 ton of coffee through it and I have replaced nothing! The Newco series of home coffee makers has very few bells and whistles. One whistle actually. And two touch-switches... for BREW and OFF. Good news: when the brew cycle is over, it shuts itself off automatically.
The Newco OCS-8 takes about 7 minutes to brew a full carafe of piping hot coffee - as mentioned, this is the ultimate drip coffee brewer. The temperature in the brew basket is a technically-perfect 196 to 200 degrees (F) - brewed coffee (in a pre-heated carafe) is generally around 180 to 185 degrees. You do not need to pre-heat the carafe but I do - and it entails swishing water from a kettle (boiled obviously) into the carafe. Even pre-heating mugs or cups leads to a more pleasant experience because hot coffee is good coffee.
The Newco series of coffee makers need very little attention other than a periodic wipe-down with a damp cloth and some soapy water. For obvious reasons do not immerse the brewer proper into water. An exterior wipe is all that is neccessary. You can pop of the brew basket and rinse under the tap if you want. The carafes are waterproof obviously - and you can clean these easily with some soapy water. Depending on your water quality, you will want to "descale" the brewer every few months - again depends on your water quality. We have great water in the Northwest but I run an environmentally safe product through the machine every few months and it keeps your brewer running healthy.
Comparing the OCS-8 and OCS-12
I have had quite a few questions about the differences between the two units - Well. It all comes down to water capacity and ultimately the output of brewed coffee. The OCS-8 brews around 36 fluid ounces of brewed coffee and the OCS-12 brews maybe 7 to 10 fluid ounces more. The OCS-8 carafe has a smaller capacity as well -- so they are NOT interchangeable! The names OCS-8 and OCS-12 (in terms of the numbers) probably refers to "servings" or "cups" - but what is a serving or cup anyway? I find with the "8" I get 4 good sized 12 to 14 fluid ounce mugs of joe - I imagine (have not tested this) that the "12" squeezes out another mugs worth - I promise, I will confirm this shortly.
We have a collection of studio shots of the Newco OCS-8 and OCS-12 here.