September 20th marks our Founder’s Day as we celebrate Gerard Clement Smit, born in 1930. Founder of Technivorm and visionary designer of the Moccamaster coffee brewer and grinder, his passion for coffee led to the creation of the Moccamaster we love today.
From the beginning, Smit was on a quest for perfection - to engineer a brewer that would not only stand the test of time but would also properly extract the complex flavors from the coffee that the grower and roaster intended. “I want to create the best cup of coffee with a coffeemaker that lasts a lifetime,” Smit once said. “A Moccamaster should be the last coffee brewer you’ll ever need to buy.”
In a 2008 interview, Smit discussed his scientific approach. “‘I always start with the coffee. Coffee comes first, and the best way to make it can be scientifically determined.’ The right temperature, the correct contact time per volume, and the best holding temperature – ‘Sacred data,’ he says, “as long as you stick to that, you have the coffee world behind you1.’”
“Form follows function” was his mantra; indeed, the company’s name, Technivorm, comes from the Dutch words for form and function – Techniek and Vormgeving. There was no room in his work for excess or frivolity. Everything he did was with purpose and the end goal in mind, and he was dedicated to the pursuit of the perfect cup of coffee.
In 2003, Smit reminisced, “We have always worked in collaboration with coffee roasters and other professionals in the industry. We don’t just make coffee makers. We want advice from professionals so that we can produce the best possible coffee. The taste and quality of the finished coffee is at least as important as the durability and functionality of the coffee makers we produce2.”
Smit loved his work, his factory, and the people he employed. He was a constant presence at Technivorm, walking the factory floor every day until his passing in 2018 at 87.
“Retire? I can’t imagine sitting back and just ‘enjoying’ life2. They thought I'd step back when the Queen appointed me as a knight of the Order of Oranje in 19993!”
Looking back over his career, he said that life had treated him well. “A good cup of coffee means a lot. It's not just a drink but a source of income. 25 million people worldwide make a living from coffee. I'm glad to be one of them3.”
To learn more about Gerard Clement Smit and the history of the Moccamaster brewer, read our article The Technivorm Moccamaster Story. Happy Founder’s Day, and happy birthday, Gerard!
1. Bueters, P. (2008, April). Between Art & Coffee. Executive Life, 44-47.
2. Good Coffee for 30 Years. (2003). Kodin Teknikka, (7), 30-31.
3. Celebrating 40 With a New Grinder. (2004) Elektronikkbransjen, 68(7), 44-46.