On the boil: How to choose the perfect kettle

On the boil: How to choose the perfect kettle

Kya deLongchamps is gasping for a cuppa from the best-performing and most stylish kettles of the season

If an atom bomb alighted on Cork city in the 22nd century — as the smoke cleared in the survival zone – a dusty hand would erupt from the rubble waving a battered kettle. Long before coffee drinking culture was reborn from an 18th-century obsession, tea drinking was knit into our DNA.

Even now challenged by the boiling tap and counter mounted water boiler, the kettle remains a favourite small appliance, and with hot good looks and energy efficiency as standard, it’s a fascinating buy to set style bubbling on your counter top.

Boil basics

Starting with the basics – the speed of operation. Fill level and an automatic/manual shut off at (or even before) 100C is the short cut to saving money on the boil. Ensure you can see exactly what’s in the kettle and vouch for a one cup (250ml-300ml) settings if possible.

The ergonomics — lifting, filling and pouring? Don’t compromise. We regularly argue in favour of terrestrial suppliers and this is another opportunity to feel the quality, the potential rattles and the balance of the piece in your hand.

The matchy-matchy set of toasters and kettles — beguiling, but judge them on their working merits as independent appliances rather than an indivisible coupling.

3kW is the maximum power for a kettle, classed as “rapid boil” — the amps of the plug won’t support more. Between two and three minutes is expected from a new kettle for a full boil (100C) of 1l.

Total control

Yes, yes, you can app-control some models from your phone for temperature setting — which I consider ridiculous over-engineering of a simple device.

The 3rd Generation iKettle is just on the shelves at €120 if you want Alexa to handle the morning cuppa, €129, Harvey Norman. If you have photovoltaic panels delivering your power, a 1.7kW kettle is less likely to kick your grid power on by day at least.

Choose a kettle with a lime-scale filter as standard — softening the water, they simply make better, clearer brews and prevent the kettle scaling up and slowing down. Don’t boil water for real coffee — it ruins it.

On the boil: How to choose the perfect kettle

Price? Consumer group Which reveal that one in five kettles breakdown in the first two years — making them one of the most unreliable appliances you will ever buy even without the capital and and ongoing maintenance of a boiler tap.

Simmer down on the ego buys. There are plenty of lovely kettles on 360 bases in the €50-€70 range.

Designer to a tea

With the anti-kitchen of today, pared back to handle free blocks and counters, we’re more likely to curate deserving, statement pieces to be left in plain sight. Beyond integrated a boiler tap, designer kettles are an exciting area in terms of bling and line, but do they deliver the cha? Delonghi and Smeg are well known fashion brands, but there are plenty more less expected designs to consider in the €90-€220 bracket.

Some style houses are at least making a chic nod to energy efficiency, and that starts with a one cup option every time.

The Bugatti Easy Vera, is a good example with its cat walk lean in thermally efficient insulated 18/10 stainless steel. That angled, highly architectural “summit” actually aids the pour.

The Touch Sense Vera is a superb servant, with a clock, a timer function and the fill level integrated into the handle, from €208, amara.com.

The Smeg KLF03 has been re-imagined by Dolce & Gabbana (hideous at €499). Stick to S/S to celebrate the smooth classy retro bullet with temperature control, €199 (KLF04SSUK), suppliers include Currys.

Chassis so classy

In the style separates of domes, cones and jugs, Alessi has had line on the boil for decades, but many of us have tired of heavily cloned T Rex kettle. Its Simply Alessi Momi by Stefano Giovannoni whistles the brand loud and clear from a stove top in a fresh, sculptural bubble, €173, multiple suppliers.

Playing with the expected jug chassis, the Red Dot Design winner for last year, Fellow Stag EKG from the US takes the spout back to the gooseneck of classic silver teapots for an elegant pour.

The antler handle is easy on the hand, and the kettle will suit pour over coffee fans who favour a Chemex jug. Avoid scalding your beans and leaves with its turn knob temperature control (135F to 212F), stopwatch control and Acaia Bluetooth app connectivity. Gorgeous in matte black or white (trending people), €166, coffeedesk.com.

Simmering style

Ensure you match any stovetop kettle intended for electro-magnetic performance to an induction hob if that’s what you have.

Mid-century Scandinavian fans will love the channelling of Erik Magnusen high water jug in the simple cylinder of the Stelton in BPA/Phthalates-free ABS. It comes in at the same price as Magnusen’s insulated jugs with their glass liners and integrated tea-strainers at €90, stelton.com.

Cool bodies and a perfectly sealing lid are an absolute must in a family kettle — and that’s easier to achieve in plastic than metals that can come in at a nicely handy 1kg even full. Dome models with small summit lids — fiddly to pluck off.

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