So you've entered the world of pour over brewing, and you're wondering what those funny looking kettles are all about.
While they can be a conversation starter in the kitchen, a great gooseneck kettle can also be the ticket to manual brewed perfection.
One of the most attractive aspects of the pour over method is its simplicity. You're pouring hot water over freshly-ground coffee beans. No special plungers or presses. Nothing to take up precious counter space.
But when it comes to a perfect pour, a few simple tools can go a long way. A nice gooseneck kettle should be in that mix.
In a word, no.
A special kettle is not essential, but that isn't the last word.
While a gooseneck isn't required to make pour over coffee, it goes a long way in helping you master the craft.
That's the main reason you choose the pour over route in the first place. More than any other brewing method, the pour over experience is one of handcrafted coffee. You choose the perfect grind and water temperature. You control exactly how much water hits the grounds, where, and for how long.
That fine-tuned control simply isn't possible (or at least practical) without a pour over kettle. These kettles are specifically designed to maximize your input for both water volume and placement.
If you've ever poured from a regular kettle, you know that point where the water is almost coming out. You are tipping, tipping, and tipping slowly, hoping to get just a trickle of water.
Only to have a deluge rush from the spout.
So you try to back off, but then you're not getting enough water. Back and forth you go.
With a decent longneck kettle, you can easily control how much water comes out of the spout. A pour over kettle is designed to allow you to precisely pour however much water you want and to keep that pace going.
Small adjustments have small effects, so you can control the water flow more efficiently.
One of the keys to the pour over method is having the water go where you want it. Unlike an immersion method, you don't just drown the coffee in water and let it sit. Depending on the recipe, you might pour in a swirl, directly through the middle, or in some other fashion.
All this with the end goal of equally saturating your grounds to extract maximum flavor from the beans.
That precise placement is difficult with a regular kettle. The spout is too far from the grounds because of the short neck. The spout doesn't pour where you think it might. Or the large opening might cause it to splatter or pour unevenly.
With a pour over kettle, you can get the spout right next to the coffee, ensuring that you will be able to direct the water flow exactly where you want it to go.
If you've ever browsed manual brew kettles, you likely wondered what separates the good from the bad from the ugly.
Kettles are a fairly straightforward tool, so you aren't going to be comparing lots of bells and whistles. Instead, you want to focus on form and function.
Look for a design that is pleasing to you, one that speaks to your personality and will look great in your kitchen. It's not an appliance you always have to keep out, but a great design just begs to be displayed.
You'll also want to find a kettle that fits your brewing method. When it comes to usability, consider how well the kettle pours and if it gives you the amount of control you need.
In general, you'll want to consider the following when choosing a pour over kettle:
There are plenty of manual brew kettles to choose from, and they range from the super expensive to the low budget, hardly worth the cost of shipping variety.
To give you a decent start, here are some of the better-known and highly rated pour over kettles out there.
Coffee Gator Kettle
Hario Pour Over Kettle
Fellow Stagg Kettle
Bonavita Digital Kettle
Willow & Everett
Kalita Stainless Kettle
Fino Pour Over Kettle
This kettle is a nice marriage of form and function. The surgical stainless steel looks amazing on the stove or counter, which is great if you plan to keep the kettle out of the cabinets.
A pleasant S shape forms the curve of the sport, and the wavy handle provides plenty of surface for gripping. With its stacked ridges, the pot itself looks nice too.
If you're worried about knowing when your water is at the perfect temperature for pouring, this kettle features a built-in thermometer in the lid. It even marks the best range in a pleasant green.
Since its not electric, it makes a great kettle for those with a gas or electric stove. Coffee Gator also offers a 100% satisfaction guarantee. So it's a risk-free purchase.
If you already own Hario's V60 pour over brewer, their kettle will fit perfectly with your setup. The thin spout provides extra control during pouring, and the handle is easy to grip.
While the lid doesn't have a thermometer, it does fit snugly, so there's no need to worry about slipping. The flat knob on top makes removing it simple as well.
The 120 model is 1.2L, which is a good size for general pour over use. And the unit works well with most stoves, including induction heat.
Overall, the V60 is an elegant and well-made kettle that well help you fine-tune your coffee ritual.
That's the best way to describe Fellow's take on the kettle. At first impression, it seems more about angles than curves.
The thin spout tapers to a fluted point that provides excellent flow. On the other side, you'll find a stocky looking handle that is weighted to counterbalance the long spout. And on top, a brew thermometer shows you when you've hit the 195-205 range.
While the handle looks clunky at first, you'll soon find that its angles make it easy to pour from various angles. The black handle is standard, but the kettle comes in three finishes (matte black, polished stainless, and copper). And each makes its own statement.
With it's combination of bold design and practical features, it's easy to see why the Stagg Kettle is used by so many competitors, including the 2016 Brewers Cup Champions in the United States and the Netherlands.
For a full-featured experience, the Bonavita delivers precise control from the water heating to the water flow and even provides help for timing the pour.
With a 60 minute heat-and-hold setting, you can have water at the perfect temperature immediately. That way, you don't have to wait when you're ready for your second cup.
And the Bonavita is adjustable in one degree increments, so you can dial in exactly the temperature you want, even if it's not for a manual brew.
Once you're ready to brew, the base has a timer to keep your process on track.
The Bonavita has a one year warranty, so you can feel confident in its build quality.
Another electric kettle, the W&E gooseneck allows you to heat your water without watching the pot. After it reaches boiling temperature, the base turns off, leaving you with a hot kettle ready to go.
The unit itself looks a bit more like a traditional kettle, but it has the extended spout for precision pouring. The mirror-finish stainless steel contrasts well with the black handle and knob.
Without a temperature read-out, however, you'll need to use your own thermometer or gauge for yourself how hot the water is, unless you happen to be nearby when the automatic shut-off happens.
If you're looking for a kettle to heat water quickly and pour consistently, the W&E could be a great choice.
With its high polish and fluted spout, you might mistake this kettle for a more traditional silver kettle. The Kalita thin spout is compact at less than liter. And with the spout staying close to the body, it takes up even less counter (or luggage) space.
Since it's on the smaller side, it is best for single-cup brewers, and it makes a great transfer pot if you have a larger kettle for heating water. The pour itself is consistent once you get used to it, though, so its does the job.
If you are heating in the Kalita, be careful because the metal handle and lid can get hot.
As the last kettle in our roundup, the Fino kettle represents a return to the basics. This no-frills gooseneck has a narrow spout and just enough curve to give you control over your water flow.
The angled handle provides a nice balance to the spout and allows you to pour at an angle that isn't too awkward.
Despite its simplicity, the Fino will still look great in the kitchen. Its polished stainless steel has a mirror finish, and the lid knob and handle fit its effortless look.
Like many other kettles, it can be heated on a gas, electric, or induction stove. And even when full, it heats water quickly.
With its lower price point, the Fino kettle makes an excellent entryway into the land of goosenecks and pour over coffees. You might choose to upgrade at a little date, or you might decide this basic kettle gets the job done just fine.
Kettles are as varied as any other coffee equipment, and they all serve a particular purpose.
No matter what type of gooseneck you choose, be sure it fits you. Manual brewing is almost as much about the ritual as the final product, so pick a kettle that you will enjoy using on a regular basis.
Don't be discouraged with your first pour either.
Each kettle has its own personality, and you will need to have a little patience while you get familiar with a new unit. Don't be embarrassed to take some practice pours in the sink. It's a great way to learn exactly what to expect from your kettle.
While a gooseneck kettle is not an absolutely essential purchase for manual brews, I've never heard someone regret making the switch. It's hard to describe how much difference the thin, curvy spout can make.