Review: Bonavita Variable Temperature Electric Gooseneck Kettle

If you are interested in making pourover coffee at home using a Hario V60, Chemex, Kalita Wave, Bee House, etc., having a gooseneck kettle is a really nice tool – some would even say essential, for the increased control it gives you over the flow of the water. I’ve had this Bonavita kettle for 2.5 years now and I feel pretty qualified to talk about its pros and cons.

I did a lot of research prior to buying this kettle, and at the time, the gooseneck options were:

• Hario stovetop kettle
• Bonavita stovetop kettle
• Bonavita electric kettle (no temperature control)
• Bonavita variable temperature electric ketttle

I eliminated the Hario pretty quickly. It is made from a thin metal that is safe for stovetop use, but reviews indicated that the metal does not conduct heat very well. Instead, the recommendation was to heat up the water in a separate kettle or pot and transfer it to the Hario for pouring. I don’t think I’d mind if I worked in a coffee shop with one of those hot water towers that has hot water available at a moment’s notice. But for home use? It was an extra step I wasn’t keen on having to do every morning. Plus, call me shallow, but I didn’t care for the lumpy, bumpy appearance of this kettle. Sorry, Hario!!

The Bonavita stovetop kettle was, at the time, the cheapest of the gooseneck options. Boil the water on the stove, let sit, then pour. Simple enough, but I opted not to get it due to reviews indicating problems with scorching.

This left the electric Bonavita kettles. I read some reviews indicating issues with rust (which I’ll get into later), but overall I decided that one of these would be worth a try. The “regular” kettle (without temperature control) was cheaper and would be simple to use (boil the water, let sit for 30 seconds or so to let the water cool to 200 degrees F, then pour), but I decided to splurge and get the one with programmable temperature control. My thought was that I would be using the kettle first thing in the morning when not fully awake and I wanted it to be as easy and foolproof as possible to make my coffee (which was also why I didn’t want to get a stovetop model – less chance of me burning the house down). Plus, Shutterbug drinks tea on occasion, and this would easily allow him to program the kettle to the lower temperatures he needed to brew his tea.

The kettle is easy to use; pour in the water, set the kettle on the base, press the power button, and program the temperature you want (or choose from several presets). The kettle will automatically turn off when it reaches the programmed temperature or when you lift the kettle off from the base. If you want to hold the water at a certain temperature, you can press the “hold” button to keep the water hot (but the kettle will still shut off when you lift the kettle off the base).

When you lift the kettle off the base, the display changes from the temperature to a timer display. I had no idea what this was for a few months after I bought the Bonavita; I was using a separate timer to work with my pourover coffee so when I discovered that the 00 00 display was actually a built-in timer, I felt silly for not looking into it sooner. To activate the timer, you hit the + symbol and the timer will start in 1 second increments. It will automatically shut off after 7 minutes or when you put the kettle back on the base.

The kettle works great for my needs. I use it daily (sometimes multiple times a day). It heats water up quickly, and the temperature control is a great perk. The lid fits securely and does not fall out when pouring, and it’s easy to control the flow of water from the thin gooseneck spout.

Now, for the drawbacks:

I only heat water in this kettle, so I figured that it wouldn’t get dirty as long as I just let it air dry. True, it doesn’t get dirty, but I live in an area that has hard water, and though I filter it, the carbon filters do not reduce the hardness of the water much, so the kettle is prone to limescale buildup. This occurs even though I pour the water right away when it comes to temperature (I don’t let it sit on hold for ages) and I immediately empty the kettle and let it air-dry inverted in my drying rack. Luckily, limescale is easy to remove; I boil white vinegar in the kettle to remove deposits and the kettle is left sparkling clean. This would be a problem no matter what kettle I used, so I don’t fault Bonavita for this.

A different problem which I alluded to earlier is rust buildup. Some reviewers mentioned that rusting was a problem with their kettle. Apparently, there was a production run where the stainless steel wasn’t treated properly. Bonavita appears to have addressed the problem in the manufacturing and offered replacement kettles for those customers affected. I’ve had my kettle for 2.5 years and I can’t remember when I started noticing this, but I did start noticing a couple of rust spots in the interior of the kettle after a while. I’ve tried cleaning them off with a baking soda paste but they are pretty stubborn. I recently started noticing a few spots on the interior of the kettle’s spout, so I contacted the Bonavita customer service department and even though I am long past the 1-year warranty period, they offered to send me a replacement kettle free of charge. How’s that for amazing customer service? They also recommended that I use Full Circle or Dezcal descaling powder for future descaling, so I will definitely be giving that a try going forward.

Summary:

Pros:
Very easy to control the flow of water when pouring
Handle stays cool
Temperature control is a snap
Easy to read display
Built-in timer
Excellent customer service
Comes with an optional plastic cover for the base for protection

Cons:
Short power cord – can be problematic if you don’t have an easily available outlet
Expensive (MSRP $95, though you can typically find it online for cheaper)
Some users report rust issues (but the customer service department will take care of you if your kettle is among those affected)
The plastic cover for the base is pretty ugly (but you don’t have to use it)

Would I recommend this kettle? Yes. It’s not perfect, but even with its flaws, it’s still a terrific tool for the job and I am pleased that Bonavita’s customer service department went the extra mile to make me happy.

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