Best Electric Kettle for Tea and Coffee Lovers

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If you’ve read Tom Standage’s A History of the World in Six Glasses, you know that beer, wine, spirits, coffee, tea, and cola have shaped the ancient world into the one we know. Unlike the other four, consumers regularly prepare small amounts of coffee or tea for personal consumption. This practice has given rise to a vast array of tools and appliances, ranging from simple to complex. From my first cup of terrible gas station joe, my passion for coffee and tea has matured and diversified over the last three decades. I know that even the method for heating water affects the final product. For those of you who know the difference between a bag of leaves dunked in boiling water and a fine cup of Earl Grey, I’ve taken the time to research and describe the best electric kettle for tea & coffee lovers.

Best Electric Kettle (Overall Winner): Cuisinart CPK-17

After witnessing a demonstration in France, MIT graduate and amateur chef Carl Sontheimer founded the Cuisinart company in 1971. With the goal of reducing food preparation time to make complex cuisine more accessible to the layperson, Sontheimer introduced the first ‘Food Processor’ at a Chicago trade show in 1973. From there, he grew the brand into a household name for specialized home kitchen appliances.

Over the past 45 years, food icons such as Julia Child and James Beard have hailed Sontheimer’s achievements. Now, a full-service culinary resource, the company makes hundreds of individual products including my pick for best electric kettle, the Cuisinart CPK-17 PerfecTemp Cordless Electric Kettle.

Physical Properties

To carve my review of the best electric kettle into palatable portions, I’ve broken each product down by physical properties, functionality, and ease of use. First, we’ll examine what makes up the Cuisinart CPK-17.

Materials & Capacity

Modern, premium appliance producers construct most of their high-end appliances from either tempered glass or stainless steel. When it comes to contenders for the best electric kettle, each of these materials has certain advantages over the other.

The Cuisinart CPK-17 is a stainless-steel electric kettle. Stainless steel enables the appliance to be lightweight and highly durable. It is also extremely easy to clean and does not retain the taste or odor of its contents. This is an essential property to consider if you ever use it to brew tea (which you can do with accessories).

When it comes to electric kettles, each appliance will hold more than its ‘capacity’. The advertised capacity is the maximum volume at which the kettle will function optimally. The Cuisinart CPK-17 has a capacity of 1.7 liters (7 cups).

Base & Power

Like all of our contenders for best electric kettle, the Cuisinart CPK-17 has an electric base which heats the kettle. The base contains a concealed 1500-watt heating element which requires a standard 110-volt power source. Once the kettle has reached the desired temperature, it can be removed from the base and returned facing any direction. The base doubles as a charger so there will always be power to the kettle’s buttons, lights, and functions.

Overall Style

The Cuisinart CPK-17 has a refined, sleek, and modern look. The base is extremely low-profile and in keeping with the overall aesthetic. The power cord wraps up into the base to aid in convenient and tidy storage.

Functionality

Now that we’ve examined the physical properties of the Cuisinart CPK-17, let’s look at how the best electric kettle functions. It is an extremely impressive combination of simplicity and power.

Speed

An important measure of the best electric kettle’s might and efficiency is the speed at which it brings water to a rolling boil. The Cuisinart CPK-17 can bring 1 liter of water to a full boil in a few as four minutes, faster than a microwave, gas, or electric stove.

Versatility

The Cuisinart CPK-17 has six different temperature presets: 160 (delicate), 175 (green tea), 185 (white tea), 190 (oolong tea), 200 (French press), and boil (black tea). The user selects each temperature with a single button-push on the handle of the kettle. This is a critical function if you are passionate about brewing specific kinds of tea at home. Many people brew teas at temperatures that are too high. This causes the water to over-extract the flavor from the leaves, resulting in an astringent or bitter taste.

Accuracy

Having a multitude of temperature settings isn’t much good if the temperature of the water isn’t consistent. In independent testing, the Cuisinart CPK-17 demonstrates that it can consistently bring water to within two degrees of the prescribed measurement.

Features & Accessories

While having an abundance of accessories only serves to distract from the product’s primary purpose, a few well-constructed features put the finishing touches on the best electric kettle.

The Cuisinart CPK-17 has a 30-minute temperature hold which will maintain the water at your intended temperature if you have to step away before you pour. The Cuisinart also employs a two-minute memory function. If you remove it from the base and return it in under two minutes, the kettle retains the current settings and resumes its place in the brewing process.

Like most contenders for best electric kettle, the Cuisinart has boil-dry protection. The kettle will switch off if it is empty. It will also sound an alarm if you attempt to place it on an active base while empty. This is critical to avoid seriously damaging the kettle.

Finally, the kettle has a removable stainless-steel filter screen. This will help prevent you from pouring solids, including tea and hard water particulates, into the final product.

Ease of Use

Producers understand that consumers want professional products without a professional’s understanding of the process. Unlike their earlier predecessors, contenders for the best electric kettle on the market today are simple to use. Let’s explore how the Cuisinart CPK-17 makes it easy for the end user.

Handle, Spout, & Lid

The Cuisinart CPK-17 has a wide, ergonomic handle with a rubber grip. The handle (and the entire outside of the kettle) will stay cool to the touch no matter how hot the interior is. All of the buttons, including the one to open the lid, are flush in the handle for easy one-hand access.

The spout is engineered to facilitate a smooth, uninterrupted pour that minimizes splashing. The lid closes flush with the top of the kettle and remains tightly closed unless the operator pushes the open button.

Display & Notifications

The Cuisinart CPK-17 does not have a digital display. The water level can be easily monitored through the water-level window, which includes volume hash-marks. An aesthetically-pleasing blue LED lights the water from within, making the level easy to see.

The kettle gives a single, loud but unobtrusive chime when the water has reached the intended temperature.

Cleaning

Because the heating mechanism is concealed within the base, the pitcher portion of the kettle can be cleaned easily without risk of injury or of damaging the machine. Like all stainless-steel water vessels, the Cuisinart CPK-17 is vulnerable to hard water build-up over time. I suggest always rinsing the kettle thoroughly after each use and periodically (weekly) boiling a de-liming agent as directed in the maintenance instructions.

Flaws But Not Deal Breakers

Even the best electric kettle on the market has some weaker aspects.  Let’s examine two of these for the Cuisinart CPK-17.

Less Accuracy at Lower Temperatures

Although the Cuisinart CPK-17 is extremely accurate at temperatures approaching a rolling boil, some reviewers note that it has a wider range of actual temperatures when set to 160 or 175. Be mindful of this if you plan to use the kettle for green tea or other delicate use.

Small Opening Makes Cleaning Difficult

The opening to the kettle is too narrow for larger hands. If you aren’t able to fit your hands into the kettle to properly maintain it, I suggest purchasing a cleaning tool that will allow you to apply pressure to the inside walls when cleaning.

 

Best Electric Kettle (Runner-Up): Breville IQ Kettle

In 1932, Australian inventors Bill O’Brien and Harry Norville founded Breville, a portmanteau of their two last names. Originally a manufacturer of radios and mine detectors, the company began manufacturing small appliances after the conclusion of WWII. In 1974, Breville patented and produced the first sandwich toaster. In some countries, this product became so ubiquitous that it was synonymous with the generic name, similar to Xerox for photocopiers.

Over 85 years since its conception, Breville is still one of the largest and most reputable manufacturers of appliances in the world, including our runner-up for best electric kettle, the Breville IQ Kettle.

Physical Properties

The components of the Breville IQ Kettle combine to create an impressive machine. First, let’s break them back apart to examine what makes this kettle boil.

Materials & Capacity

The Breville IQ Kettle has a capacity of 1.8 liters, slightly larger than the Cuisinart.

Unlike the Cuisinart, the primary water reservoir of the Breville IQ Kettle is glass – German SCHOTT glass, to be precise. Engineered for both strength and beauty, this type of tempered glass resists breakage, especially from thermal damage. It is also less porous, so it retains less residue and odor from the contents.

All that said, no glass is going to be quite as durable or as easy to clean as Stainless Steel. It does however, look very fine sitting on the counter.

Base & Power

Like the Cuisinart, the Breville IQ Kettle has a multidirectional base with cord storage. The base has a contained 1500W Rapid Boil heating element and also charges the electric components of the kettle itself.

Overall Style

The Breville IQ Kettle is big and beautiful. The German SCHOTT glass gives a highly-appealing elegance to the entire kettle.

Functionality

Despite being composed primarily of glass, the Breville IQ Kettle shares much of its construction with my pick for the best electric kettle: the Cuisinart CPK-17. Let’s see if their similarities extend to the operation.

Speed

Surprisingly, the speed at which a particular kettle brings water to a boil varies depending on several factors, including air pressure (elevation). While this makes comparing the speed of two similar kettles somewhat subjective, the Breville IQ Kettle seems to take slightly longer than our winner for best electric kettle, the Cuisinart CPK-17.

This is likely due to the glass construction, which allows more heat to dissipate than double-walled stainless steel. The Breville averages 4.5 to 5 minutes to a full boil – still faster than a microwave or stove.

Versatility

The Breville IQ Kettle has five temperature presets, compared to the Cuisinart’s six. With 175, 195, 200, 205, and 212 (boil) settings, it lacks the capacity to hold quite as low as the Cuisinart, which has a 165-degree setting.

Accuracy

Customer reviews note that temperature settings of the Breville IQ Kettle are highly accurate, a testament to the commitment of its innovators.

Features & Accessories

Like the Cuisinart, the Breville IQ Kettle has both a boil-dry emergency shut-off and a removable screen to prevent sediment from passing from the kettle to the cup. It also has a Keep Warm function that allows you to manually keep the contents of your kettle at a desired temperature.

The Breville IQ Kettle has a 20-minute automatic temperature hold that kicks in if you do not remove the kettle from the base after the water has reached the correct temperature.

While this is 10 minutes less than the Cuisinart, it should suffice for almost all situations. Unlike the Cuisinart, the Breville does not have a memory function. If you take the kettle off the base, you will need to reset it upon return.

While the limitations caused by these reduced features are very minimal, they are a key reason the Breville IQ Kettle did not make the cut for best electric kettle.

Ease of Use

Like the Cuisinart, the is engineered for simplicity. Let’s look at a few specific components that make the Breville user-friendly.

Handle, Spout, & Lid

The handle, lid, and spout of the Breville IQ Kettle are all ideal for speedy and safe operation. The rubber-lined handle is wide and easy to grip. The spout pours smoothly to minimize dribble and splash. When working as it should, the lid has a beautifully simple functionality. However, as I’ll note in the section on flaws, several users have singled-out the lid as a weak point in the construction.

Display & Notifications

Because the Breville IQ Kettle is transparent glass, the need for extra indicators and notifications is minimal. There are graduated markings etched into the glass to indicate water volume and maximum capacity. When the kettle has reached the desired temperature, it will beep three times and the temperature section button will remain illuminated for one minute.

Cleaning

Like the Cuisinart, the Breville IQ Kettle has a concealed power source, so it is safe to clean. When it comes to mineral scale or other build-up, the transparent glass of the kettle itself is a double-edged sword. If the Breville is not kept pristine, its aesthetics begin to quickly decline. On the other hand, that should motivate you to be proactive in your maintenance, prolonging the superior purity of the boiled water.

Flaws But Not Deal Breakers

Defective Lid

Several reviewers noted that the lid may fail to operate properly after a period of use.  The most common complaint is that the closing mechanism fails and the lid pops open. In addition to proving a nuisance, this could be potentially hazardous. Never overfill the Breville IQ Kettle and cease use immediately if it fails to function in a significant way.

Small Opening Makes Cleaning Difficult

Yes, the Cuisinart and the Breville share this same flaw. The kettle cannot be submerged or machine washed and so must be washed by hand. In both cases, the small opening makes this a chore for people with larger hands.

Best Electric Kettle (Budget Winner): Hamilton Beach Compact Glass Kettle

In 1910, an inventor named Frederick J Osius founded Hamilton Beach in Racine, Wisconsin. Because Osius did not care for his own name, he paid two employees $1000 for the rights to use each of their last names. In this bizarre origin tale, Hamilton Beach was named for an advertising manager named Louis Hamilton and a mechanic named Chester Beach, neither of whom owned the company.

Over 100 years later, Hamilton Beach is an international appliance and smallwares company which produces hundreds of products for the personal kitchen, including our pick for best electric kettle (budget winner), the Hamilton Beach Compact Glass Kettle.

Physical Properties

The Hamilton Beach Compact Glass Kettle is built for efficiency and simplicity.

Materials & Capacity

Unlike the larger Cuisinart and Breville, the Hamilton Beach Compact Glass Kettle has only a one-liter max capacity. This is just over 4 cups, plenty for personal use or even to heat water for a small group.

The Hamilton kettle is made of glass, plastic, and stainless steel. Although evaporated water may touch the plastic and then condense back into liquid water in the kettle, only the glass and stainless surfaces touch the water as it boils. Like the Breville, the majority of the kettle itself is tempered, transparent glass.

Base & Power

Like its larger counterparts, the Hamilton Beach Compact Glass Kettle has a multidirectional base with cord storage. The same concealed 1500W heating element boils the water. Since the Hamilton is smaller, it is extremely efficient. It also boasts the 360-degree base and integrated cord-wrap.

Overall Style

The Hamilton Beach Compact Glass Kettle is compact and very attractive. While it is heating, a blue LED shines through the percolating water, making the Hamilton Beach a nice little addition to your countertop.  When you don’t need it, it tucks away in a very small footprint.

Functionality

At ¼ the price of the top two competitors for best electric kettle, the Hamilton Beach Compact Glass Kettle is missing a few high-end functions. That said, it does what it does extremely well.

Speed

Because the Hamilton Beach kettle heats 60% of the water volume with the same wattage as the larger kettles, it is extremely efficient. Even after losing some heat through the glass walls of the kettle, it still boils its max capacity of 1 liter in under four minutes.

Versatility

Unlike the Cuisinart and Breville, the Hamilton Beach Compact Glass Kettle only has one temperature setting: a full boil. If you want the water at a lower temperature, you have to remove the kettle from the power source yourself.

Accuracy

Since it doesn’t have multiple temperature settings, the concept of Accuracy doesn’t really factor into our evaluation of the Hamilton Beach kettle.

Features & Accessories

The economic Hamilton Beach Compact Glass Kettle is sparse in accessories. That said, it still sports a few tricks up its sleeve. This kettle still has both a boil-dry emergency shut-off and a removable screen. The attractive blue LED light kicks on when the water is heating and turns off when it reaches a boil.

It does not have a Keep Warm function or an Automatic Temperature Hold.

Ease of Use

While the Hamilton Beach Compact Glass Kettle may be light in functionality, it shines in ease of use.

Handle, Spout, & Lid

The stay-cool handle of the Hamilton Beach kettle is as comfortable as many more costly competitors. The spout has the same no-dribble construction. The Hamilton Beach also has the same style of lid, which can be easily operated with one hand.

Display & Notifications

Because the Hamilton Beach Compact Glass Kettle is transparent glass and does not allow for variable temperature settings, there is little need for a complicated display or notifications. Graduated markings etched into the glass indicate the liquid volume up to one liter. When the kettle has come to a boil, the blue light will shut off with the heat source.

Cleaning

The Hamilton Beach Compact Glass Kettle is actually easier to clean than its more robust competitors. The opening is closer to the bottom of the pitcher and larger in comparison to the total volume, making it easier to insert hands and tools to maintain the inside of the glass.

Flaws But Not Deal Breakers

Steam Escapes Near the Opening Mechanism

If you use the lever to open the top of the kettle while water is boiling, steam escapes very close to where your thumb is positioned. While this poses a potential safety hazard, it can be prevented by knowing this characteristic and practicing prudence during operation.

Not Ideal for Tea Preparation

This is a limitation, not a flaw. However, since the title of the article is ‘Best Electric Kettle for Tea and Coffee Lovers’, this is a point worth reiterating. Many teas are best prepared by steeping the leaves in water cooler than 212 degrees. Because the Hamilton Beach Compact Glass Kettle does not have preset temperature settings, it is difficult to consistently prepare water at these lower temperatures.

All the Nitty Gritty

  Cuisinart CPK-17 Breville IQ Kettle Hamilton Beach Compact
Time to Boil 1 Liter 4 – 4.5 min 4.5 – 5 min < 4 minutes
Capacity 1.7 liters 1.8 liters 1 liter
# of Temp Presets Six Five None
Notification(s) Single Beep Three Beeps LED Light Turns Off
Boil-Dry Protection Alarm & Auto-Shutoff Auto-Shutoff Auto-Shutoff
Primary Material Stainless Steel Glass Glass
Temperature Hold 30 Minutes 20 Minutes No

The Bottom Line

In my opinion, any time you can learn to prepare a beloved product at home instead of paying someone else to, you should. In this independent spirit, I encourage all lovers of tea and coffee to spend some money up font and take a greater level of control over their consumption of these two fine beverages.

If you are going to be boiling water for tea, pour-over coffee, or French press coffee more than two or three times a week, I recommend investing in one of our top two competitors. Both the Cuisinart CPK-17 and the Breville IQ Kettle are excellent machines, with the Cuisinart edging out the Breville in just a few areas to win the title of best electric kettle.

If you are concerned with money or space conservation or just don’t boil that much water on a weekly basis, the Hamilton Beach Compact Glass Kettle is a fine piece of equipment at a bargain price. Whatever you decide to buy, always educate yourself on proper operation, and you’ll be brewing your own coffees and teas in no time. Enjoy a cup for me. Cheers!

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What happens if I steep tea leaves in boiling water?

You won’t ruin them, if that’s what you mean. They’ll still smell great and those with caffeine will still put some pep in your step. The hotter water will over extract the flavor, producing a more astringent or bitter taste. This may be unpleasant and will mask some of the subtleties. If you’ve always avoided certain types of teas because of this characteristic, it’s possible you’ve never enjoyed them when prepared properly.

Q: If I don’t feel like using a pour-over or French press, what is the best method for preparing coffee at home?

That, my friends, is a great question which is answered in Kelly Berry’s article: Best Drip Coffee Brewing Machine.

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