Bonavita Variable Electric Kettle :: A First LookApril 28th, 2012 by Kevin Haugen
We were thoroughly excited when we received Bonavita’s Electric Gooseneck Kettle last year. Finally, there was a stainless steel electric kettle that was suitable for manual pour-over. When we heard that Bonavita was coming out with a kettle with a variable temperature control, we were anxious to get our hands on one.
At its heart, the variable kettle is essentially the same as Bonavita’s standard electric gooseneck kettle. It can heat 1 liter of water in 5 minutes, which is slower than other variable kettles in the market, but you are gaining the gooseneck spout, which is essential for maintaining a constant water flow with manual pour over styles. The kettle pours smoothly, though the handle is not as ergonomic and comfortable in the hand as the stovetop model.
The brains of this kettle which gives you variable temperature control is well designed. You can continuously monitor the temperature via the digital display and adjust your target temp on the fly in both Fahrenheit and Celsius. In our tests, we found the reading to be accurate to within .5 of a degree. The kettle will also maintain the hold temperature for up to 20 minutes, making it especially appealing for café use.
A nice addition is the ability to save 6 user pre-set temperatures. This is perfect for those wishing to brew both coffee and tea, or for those wishing to experiment with coffee varietals and temperature profiling. The kettle uses solid state memory to record your presets, so unplugging the kettle won’t mean dialing everything in again the next time you use it.
Every product has its drawbacks, and my main complaint is the relatively low build quality of the heating base. I would expect it to break down eventually if used in the bustle of a high volume environment. For a variable kettle under $100, however, this does not come as much of a surprise. Another issue for some will be the short power cord of 24 inches. A retractable and longer power cord would be a welcome addition. Unless the kettle is sitting directly next an outlet, it might be a struggle to reach an outlet on a cluttered counter.
In the end, the Bonavita Variable Kettle is both well thought out and intuitive to use, and, being commercially UL certified, I would recommend it for both home and professional applications.
UPDATE: Bonavita sent a note that the unit I tested was a pre-production sample, so the unit shipping in July will have some tweaks and upgrades to the fit/finish. I may have to rescind my comment about heavy duty use. We’ll post an update once we receive the production units in July.
UPDATE 2: I only tested the kettle for 20 minutes, as the manual said it would hold temp for 20 minutes. I was recently advised that it actually will stay on for 60 minutes. I retested and can vouch for this!