The kettle is one of the most popular household appliances. It’s no wonder. From green tea to morning coffee, this lot will make sure you get the best coffee possible.
Your existing kettle may seem unfit for purpose and just plain boring until you finish reading this article. Kettles of the future are all about getting the precision temperature for the beverage you want, and for that you need it to prepare water to multiple temperatures.
Think about it. Delicate green and white teas are destroyed by boiling water, and the ideal temperature is 70°C, while the ultimate black and oolong teas need water around 85°C. For herbal teas, it is 100°C and for chamomile it is 90°C. Meanwhile, the ideal temperature for coffee is between 91C and 96C. Boiling coffee simply burns it.
Don’t automatically opt for the most expensive. Our summary shows that some of the cheapest variable temperature kettles are the best, while some of the most expensive on the market didn’t even make our final list. As with most kettles, make sure they are comfortable to hold and fit your grip well, are non-slip, have a clear viewing window so you can see the water level, and have an easy-open lid for filling.
If you’re in an area with hard water, you’ll need a limescale filter that really gets rid of all those calcium deposits. Consider other things that might irritate you – for example, if the kettle is too noisy, too heavy, or it doesn’t boil small amounts of water. As for variable temperatures, make sure they cover all the bases you need them for. Will you benefit from a keep-warm feature? And do you want additional technology like app control? Where we specifically mentioned that a kettle is fast, we mean that it will get your water ready in less than two and a half minutes.
The Best Kettles
Bosch Styline-Sensor TWK86103GB Kettle
This stylish kettle gives you a choice of four temperatures between 70C and 100C and a keep warm function. It is fast and quiet and available in red and black. The effective limescale filter means you don’t have to worry about chunks floating in the coffee, and you can boil small amounts of water at a time – handy if you only want a single cup. But the spout could be bigger and is on the heavy side.
Cuisinart CPK18E Kettle (2750 watts, 1.7 liters) metallic
This was one of the fastest boiling in our round up. Highlights include an ergonomic handle, a quick-snap lid, a nice pouring function, and clear buttons that let you heat water to 85°C or 100°C, while a third button lets you vary the temperature between them in 5°C increments. We thought the lime filter did a good job, and there’s a (very good) matching toaster. It does get hot to touch, so it might not be the best option if you have kids using it, and the trade-off for super fast cooking time is that it’s relatively noisy. Also available in red.
Sage Appliances SKE825 Kettle with Keep Warm Function The Smart Kettle, 3000 W
This is a great buy as the boiling water boils at high speed and five temperature settings – 80C, 85C, 90C, 95C and 100C. It’s nice to hold and use, with ergonomics and weight well thought out (the hinged lid is a joy), and it’s very easy to see when it needs to be refilled, and there’s a useful keep warm function that means water stays warm for 20 minutes. The limescale filter wasn’t as effective as some, so perhaps not for areas with hard water, and we found it difficult to remove greasy fingerprints.
KitchenAid 5KEK1522EER Kettle Artisan Series, empire red
For those who spend time in areas with hard water, there is no need to avert your eyes for it – the lime filter is just right. It has six different temperature settings from 50C to 100C, as well as a display that shows the exact water temperature at all times, so you may not need to boil the kettle again the next time you want a drink. As with most KitchenAid products, the retro look is striking, it is extremely well made and comes in some great colors. On the practical side, it has a low minimum fill and emits a very satisfying beep when its work is done. Good luck trying to see how full it is, though, and it is heavy, so keep that in mind if you are buying for someone who struggles with lifting.
Variable Temperature Water Kettle
The George 1.7L temperature control kettle is the least expensive in our lineup, but it’s also our favorite. It’s not the best looking, however, so aesthetically our top prize would go jointly to Crux Precision Touch 1.7l Tempering Kettle (more contemporary) and KitchenAid Artisan 1.5l Kettle (retro), both of which do a great job of giving you the right temperature water for the right drink.
Kettle guide: questions and answers
There are two main types of kettles: pitcher and traditional. Jug kettles are tall and slim – they look like jugs and are usually electric. Traditional kettles are squatter and rounder (most kettles will look like this, but many electric kettles borrow from the classic aesthetic).
The good news is that kettles are pretty simple devices – and you don’t have to break the bank to buy something that can make you a cup of tea or a cup of coffee.
The simplest is the stovetop kettle, which is essentially just a metal vessel that heats water, with a lid, a handle, a spout, and a whistle. There’s not a lot of engineering involved, and they can last as long as the quality of the metal.
Electric kettles are a little more complex, but not much. When turned on, an electric current flows through a metal coil that converts the energy into heat. That’s about all there is to say about it.
What features should I look for?
While kettles remain pleasantly unfussy, there are some modern updates that are useful. The following information is for electric kettles and not stovetop kettles. Tefal also have many great kettles. I recommend this article on Tefal kettles. I’ve excluded smart kettles from testing after having a bad experience with one (and to be honest, you shouldn’t need a cell phone to make a coffee).
There are a few key features that all modern kettles, even the cheaper ones, should have. An on/off switch triggers the process and should automatically turn off when the boil is complete. Some switches light up when they are on.
Electric stoves usually have a protective grid in the spout, called a lime filter (all tested do). This prevents dirty parts from getting into your drink.
You want your kettle to have an indicator that shows you the minimum and maximum water levels (which ensures safety, keeps your kettle in good working order, and means you don’t have to overfill to save water and energy). Most kettles have a maximum capacity of 1.7 liters, about eight cups of tea.
On the more expensive models, there may be a keep-warm function that ensures the water stays warm for a while after boiling. This is a nice feature, but ultimately unnecessary unless you are extremely forgetful or want to continue cooking (who does?). According to this, a keep warm function uses more energy than re-cooking, so it’s actually pretty pointless – cooking the desired amount is most efficient.
One feature I did like is the multiple temperature setting, which allows you to set the temperature you want. This is useful for things like coffee (best at around 95°C) and green tea (between 70°C and 80°C is ideal). Only the more expensive models tend to offer this.
“If the water is too hot, right from boiling, you’ll scald the coffee, which will affect the flavor and aroma,” Mirke explains. “There are some great kettles on the market with temperature control.” For black tea, 100C water is fine, so temperature control is less important.
You should also consider the size of the spout when buying a kettle, mainly for safety reasons. I’ve found that if the spout is too large, water can splash out quite unpredictably and your cup can easily overflow. Seemingly thinner spouts (such as those found in a gooseneck kettle) can also give better results, especially with coffee.
What is lime scale, why is there so much in my kettle, and how can I get rid of it?
We don’t all have the same water. Across the country, the H2O in our faucets varies from hard to soft. The east and southeast of the country tend to have harder water, while the west and north get soft water.
“Hard water occurs in areas where there is chalk and limestone in the ground,” explains Dr. Emma Goldenstein. “As it goes through the rock, it picks up the chalk carbonates, and that determines the hardness level.”
Therefore, in these calcareous, chalky areas, the residue forms in the kettle and forms a white scum. It also forms a light film on tea or coffee, visible to the eye. “Hard water makes coffee taste more bitter, with a woodier flavor,” Goldenstein explains. Soft water is also said to be better for the taste of tea.
There are no health drawbacks in hard water, Goslan says. In fact, hard water has a lot of calcium, so it might even offer health benefits.
Goldenstein advises against using water softeners to boil water because the softening process converts calcium to sodium. Certain filters, like Brita, can soften your water, but many only remove chlorine and organic compounds, so it pays to check the product information before buying.
There are a few ways to prevent scale buildup (a common one is a boiler descaler, which is a wiry stainless steel ball).
How to buy the best kettle for you
How much do I need to spendYou really don’t have to break the bank to get your hands on a decent kettle. There are plenty of options that cost less than $50 that will give you a reliable, fast-boiling, and fairly quiet kettle that should last you three years or more. However, if water filtration or stunning design is a must, expect to pay a premium for it.
What types of kettles are there?
- Electric kettle: this is by far the most common type of kettle. They are not only the most energy efficient, but also the fastest and easiest way to bring water to boiling point. They’re also the safest, as most come with an automatic shut-off setting so they won’t heat the water once it reaches the proper temperature. The downside is that limescale can build up and reduce efficiency.
- Variable temperature kettles: this is a variation of kettles that bring the water to the optimal temperature for the desired beverage, with different buttons for different temperatures. Why it’s important. Using boiling water for coffee actually burns it – the ideal temperature is between 91C-96C. Delicate green and white teas are also destroyed by boiling water – instead, they need water at 70C. Black and oolong teas taste best with water around 85C. And chamomile requires water at 90°C. The list goes on.
- Stove top kettle: this is the simplest type of kettle that you just put on the stove and heat. When the water boils, it whistles to let you know. They can be (but are not always) the cheapest type of kettle and have a retro aesthetic feel. They are less prone to damage from mineral deposits than kettles, and you don’t need electricity or consume space on your countertop.
Are fast-boiling kettles actually faster than regular ones?
Don’t be fooled by kettles advertised as “fast boiling” – the fastest boiling kettle here is only 11 seconds faster than the slowest. Also note that the manufacturer’s boiling time claims are often based on how long it takes for the water to boil at room temperature.
What other features are worth paying attention to?
Kettles are not the most high-tech kitchen items, but it’s worth paying attention to safety features like an automatic shut-off function – if you accidentally put too little water in the kettle, it will stop boiling. One very basic thing to look out for is how a kettle is filled – a flip-top button lid is worth having, as it means you don’t have to put your hand near the spout (or any steam coming out of it) when refilling.
And personally, we’d avoid buying a cheap kettle that has a power cord connected directly to the pot itself; the slot-in stand design of most modern kettles is much safer. Finally, think about noise. The difference between our quietest and noisiest kettles, measured at 71 and 76 decibels, is considerable, although everyone’s tolerance for noise is different.
Kettles at Okö Test
While we were writing our article, unfortunately there was no kettle test on it at Ökotest. Therefore, we could only gather our information that we found on the net. We have compared at the different suppliers and also on sales portals and thereby made our evaluations.
Water boiler at Stiftung Warentest
We were unable to find a kettle test at Stiftung Warentest during the writing of this article. We have oriented ourselves to other websites and consumer portals. Also, we looked closely at the items in your description, so you can choose the best products.