An honest & in-depth Bonavita gooseneck kettle review
My (David) favorite brewing method for coffee at home—hands down—is a pour over. It’s a fun morning (and afternoon… and evening…) ritual to relax a bit and create a moment for myself. I daresay it’s peaceful. It’s like self-care, but with less face lotion and more caffeine.
My current tool of choice for that is the Wirecutter-recommended Kalita Wave. The Wave is a forgiving intro-to-manual-pour-over brewer. It’s less in need of exacting pouring than something like the famous Chemex (which I admittedly aspire to buy when both money and time-to-learn are high enough).
For making pour over coffee at home, I wanted a good electric kettle. I looked briefly at all the cut-rate ones, and then settled on the fact that the first one I try should be the Bonavita Variable Temperature Electric Gooseneck. I went for it, and I love it. Here’s why…
3 major coffee kettle considerations (and how Bonavita checks them all off)
Before we dive more deeply into why I love Bonavita’s electric gooseneck kettle, let’s break down the general benefits of both a gooseneck kettle, an electric kettle, and a kettle with variable temperature, regardless of which product ends up on your home shelf.
Why a gooseneck kettle?
You’ll find a most people into fussy coffee—whether low key or not —recommend a gooseneck kettle for pour over brewing. The reason? The big advantage of making pour over by hand (instead of in a $20 Mr. Coffee drip machine) is that you have much more complete control of where and how you pour the water.
Most conventional stovetop and electric water kettles have a rather wide mouth for speedy pouring. And this works great for many applications, but not when we want control over where exactly our water comes out—and how much comes out at time. It’s very hard to direct a wide-mouth of water over the relatively small area of most pour-over brewing contraptions.
A gooseneck kettle like Bonavita’s is the solution to that problem. It’s a much-narrower neck to the kettle, so the water flows in a much narrower (and thus more-controllable) stream. Because it is both narrower and goose-ier, it’s easy to get just the amount of water you want, at the exact location you want it to go.
Why an electric kettle?
So, you’re on board with the gooseneck kettle—electric kettles should also be favored. Some recommendations are for gooseneck kettles will point you to non-electric ones like this one from Coffee Gator. The issue with non-electric kettles (especially for the home coffee brewer) is that you’ve got to figure out how to get your water hot before it goes into that kettle.
It’s possible to use your stovetop, microwave, or a non-goosenecked electric kettle to get your water to the right temperature. But if you then pour it into a gooseneck, there’s a good chance that you’ll have lowered its temperature—decreasing your ability to make the perfect cup of coffee. That drop isn’t an insurmountable problem, but it sure is an annoyance. And a very avoidable one.
The reason to get an electric gooseneck kettle is because few of us have an instant hot water tap or commercial-type hot water dispensers at home. If you do, I’d go ahead and get something like the Coffee Gator non-electric gooseneck kettle.
But for the rest of us, why not combine the heater and gooseneck into a single convenient package?
Why variable temperature?
The other big bonus of electric is that many electric kettles let you set a specific target water temperature. This is a big win. Most fussy-coffee brew methods have a preferred temp to achieve an optimized extraction for a given brew method. For my pour over, it’s 205F. For Megan’s AeroPress preference, it’s 185F.
With two clicks on the Variable Temperature Bonavita, we can change between those two modes to get exactly that temperature we need,
no with little fussing or fighting. And, the kettle shows the current temperature right on the base as it’s heating, so it’s easy to guess how long you’ll need to wait.
And for all you non-Americans horrified by the Fahrenheit temps, the kettle does have an easy-and-convenient conversion button for you, and works just as well in Celsius mode. 😝
There are cheaper kettles that don’t offer the temperature control readout (we highlight one below), but now that I’ve got one, I’d never go back. The cost difference is not insignificant, but for the amount of pleasure and nerding out I get from the read-out is well worth the modest ~$30 difference.
My in-depth Bonavita Gooseneck Kettle review
Honestly, I have not (yet) done a side-by-side comparison to every comparable model. So, there may be a good alternatives out there. But the Bonavita is the one I see recommended everywhere—not to mention oftentimes sold in all the third wave coffee shops I visit who offer home-brewing supplies.
And, having used it for about 6 months now, it’s a damn good kettle, full stop. It’s trivially easy to fill, the handle is comfortable and solid, and the charging base is super-solid and reasonably-intuitive.
I mentioned that Megan likes to brew an AeroPress at 185, and I like to make pour over at 205. To switch between two (or more) target temperatures on this kettle is literally two button presses. And it’s already at my setting, I just need to fill the kettle (an easy and thoughtless maneuver first thing in the morning) and press on the on/off button. Nothing else.
The brushed steel exterior is easy to keep looking clean, and I appreciate that there is no contact between hot water and plastic.
The kettle is also just a complete pleasure to pour. It’s never too heavy (I have the 1L size) and the handle is so sturdy that I’m sure I’d be able to hold it comfortably even with a lot more weight. Getting exactly that small portion of grounds off to the side that stays too-dry while making pour over require no thought or cognitive effort. I just point that gooseneck, and the coffee is wet.
In conclusion, the Bonavita electric gooseneck variable temperature kettle kicks butt because:
- It’s easy to use & has no contact between the hot water & plastic
- You can have multiple temperatures/settings
- It’s not too heavy yet feels sturdy
- It’s actually fun to pour
- The cost will put you back compared to other mid-level home brewing devices
- Nothing else (yet!)
We think those drawbacks are pretty minimal too. We dare say it’s the best electric gooseneck kettle. Period.
What about tea? AeroPress? Etc.?
Any time you need hot water you can use your electric kettle. And fussy tea, like fussy coffee, does actually have idealized temperatures. So, the variable temperature can serve you well there, too.
The gooseneck isn’t as necessary for tea as it is for pour over coffee, but it also does no real harm. A crude pour-spout would get you the water just seconds quicker, but for me the risk of spilling from them also causes some worry.
Before you buy your own Bonavita…
This is, in some ways, the easiest question. If you find yourself using or wishing for an electric kettle, you probably have a sense of the size you need. If you’re unsure, and you’re mostly making coffee (or tea) for yourself, the 1L will do you great.
If you’re also typically making single cups of coffee, even for a group, you’ll also be great with the 1L Bonavita kettle.
The reason I’d want the 1.7L kettle, as someone who is very happy with the 1L version, is if I were regularly trying to offer hot water for tea for a group of guests. Just me and Megan get on very well with the 1L kettle. We typically each make a cup, sometimes in very quick sequence. But when we do it’s quick enough to refill the 1L kettle and get it back to our desired temperature.
If you’re thinking—”That costs too much. Is there a cheaper option?” You’re in luck. As I write this review, the Bonavita I’m recommending is almost $80 on Amazon. (I paid $70.) That’s really not much when you compare it to a few dozen trips to your favorite coffee shop. (And this kettle will last you waaaay longer than a few dozen cups).
I think $80 is a reasonable price, but it isn’t the cheapest. Having never used it, and appreciating the easy of right-temping this kettle, I can’t endorse but will point out that Amazon sells the non-temperature-reading equivalent Bonavita kettle for about half the price:
The big disadvantage here is that you’re back to guessing/trusting/or kitchen-thermometer-ing the kettle every time you’re using it to craft your cup of coffee according to specific recommendations. But the cost savings may be worth the hassle for some of you. Or you may not be quite as fussy as me.
If so, the Bonavita Gooseneck (without the variable temperature control) is a good choice.
What’s in the box?
The somewhat unexpected bonus I got in the box of the Bonavita electric gooseneck kettle (outside of all the paper and requisite plastic wrapping for the kettle) was the cover for the base which is there as extra protection people those in a commercial setting, or who are cautious like me.
For those who favor beauty, pulling off the thick semi-translucent plastic is a great idea and will take you about two seconds. The base and kettle-plastic match precisely if you do this, so if you’re not a paranoid (like me), it is unquestionably a more attractive option.
Otherwise, you should just expect to see in the box exactly what you need: the kettle base, which you plug into the wall, and the kettle itself, which has a simple quick-connect no-effort connection to the base.
Onward, to great coffee!
The right kettle makes brewing a cup of great coffee much more enjoyable experience. That plug freshly-roasted local beans, fresh-ground, and your brew method of choice is an unbeatable combination. And the kettle for the combination, the best electric gooseneck kettle, is unquestionably the Variable Temperature Gooseneck Bonavita. You can buy it on Amazon right now.