Hario kettle and pour-over glass

Variable Temperature Electric Kettle – Bonavita vs Breville, vs Cuisinart

Why Do We Need a Variable Temperature Kettle?

Hario kettle and pour-over glass

The variable temperature electric kettle is a must for a coffee enthusiast that likes to explore, and likes to change their brewing routines. It is also critical for some brewing methods, where you need lower temperatures, such as pour-over, and AeroPress.

Many people use a regular electric kettle and estimate the water temperature, but it highly inaccurate. Using a thermometer is the better way, but it is inconvenient, and time consuming.

Hario Electric Kettle

Hario is just a simple electric kettle, many times it is compared to Bonavita and other variable electric kettles. But the comparison is forced, because Hario cannot be set to deliver a certain temperature.

Hario Buono kettle is a great product, and it has its partizans because of its reliability, and because of the gooseneck spout which ensures a great pouring control. It is perfect for simple brewing where the temperature is not very important, or you need water close to the boiling point. If you need granular control of the brewing temperature, however, Hario might not be the right choice. You can see in the video below how easy is to control the pouring with the gooseneck spout.

Variable Temperature Electric Kettle

A variable temperature electric kettle is the best solution, because removes all the guess work, and inconsistency. You don’t need a thermometer, unless you are a scientist. You can just program your kettle to the desired temperature and wait.

There are many options on the market, but not all kettles are created equal. You will have kettles that are highly unreliable. The water temperature can be a difference of up to 20 degrees from what you wanted. But obviously, this happens with the worst equipment. There are a number of factors that can influence the water temperature. A few of them are the starting water temperature, the quantity of water in the kettle, the altitude, the chemical composition. Some models rely solely on a timer to heat up the water. They estimate how long is going to take to heat up the water based on previous measurements. This method is highly unreliable, because none of the factors above are taken in consideration. You change one of the above factors, the temperature is off.

The best electric kettles use a digital thermometer to measure the temperature. These models are more reliable, as they have a more accurate way to ensure the right temperature. However, not all models with a thermometer are built the same, and some are more accurate than others. The problem in this case is the thermal inertia. The thermometer will read the temperature, and shutdown the heating elements, but the water is still getting heated because of the coil’s thermal inertia. Timing the heating elements is still an approximation.

The perfect electric kettle incorporates a significant amount of computing intelligence to gradually shut down the heating elements as the water gets closer to the desired temperature. This ensures a high temperature precision within 1-2 degrees. There aren’t many kettles built with that amount of technology, but for the coffee enthusiast this is the right equipment to own.

Bonavita Variable Temperature Kettle

In our opinion Bonavita  is one of the best units on the market. There are few features that make it so desirable for the coffee lover.

Yes, people compare Bonavita with Hario kettles, but in my opinion, you can’t  compare the two, Bonavita is a step above Hario. Certainly Hario has its appeal, with great hardware, and great reliability. Feature wise, however, Bonavita is the winner, with great temperature control, and a brewing timer. Here is what made us fall in love with it in more details.

  • The gooseneck spout makes it very easy to control the pouring, and for brewing French press, and pour-over this is essential.
  • The digitally controlled temperature makes it perfect for all the manual brewing methods, from French press, and pour-over to AeroPress. You can program your desired temperature from 140° F up to boiling in 1° steps.
  • One of the nice features is the ability to program up to six preset temperatures, for all your brewing needs. I got mine programmed for French press, AeroPress, and pour over.
  • The LED display shows the water temperature, and the accuracy of the Bonavita kettle is 2° F up and down. This is as good as you can ask for.
  • There is a count up timer that you can use to time your steeping. This is also very useful for all manual brewing methods, where time is essential for nailing the best cup. The timer, (smartly designed), gets activated as soon as you remove the kettle from its base. From temperature displaying it switches to a timer displaying 0 00.
  • There is also a hold button that will maintain your water at the desired temperature for up to one hour.

The Bonavita variable temperature electric kettle looks modern, with a brushed stainless steel body, and an elegant, ergonomic handle. The temperature display can be changed from Fahrenheit to Celsius and vice versa by pushing a button.

Breville BKE820XL Variable Temperature Kettle

Breville BKE820XL is an amazing variable temperature kettle. The kettle looks amazing, it’s just beautiful, you can use it over and over, just because it’s so well designed.

The unit has 2 quart, (1.8 L), capacity and a powerful 1500 Watt heating unit. The powerful unit makes it bring the water to a boil in no time. The unit has a 360 degrees base, with all controls very nicely, and clearly marked. Extremely easy to use, even for a kid. The boil-dry protection, ensures you don’t accidentally ruin your kettle if you forget to add water. The lid is tight, which helps with maintaining the temperature. The clear water-level indicator allows you to see how much water is inside, and it is BPA free with the new models.

This unit is great and almost perfect. However, for me the fact that it doesn’t have an option to set the temperature by degree, is a minus. On a positive note, there are five preset temperatures, nicely spread on the entire brewing range, from 175 degree Fahrenheit, to boil. Almost perfect.  There is also a hold temperature button, which does just that. It keeps the water to the desired temp. for 20 minutes. Very useful.

Overall, the great design, the reliability, and the fact that it is BPA free makes this  unit one of the best on the market.

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