Updated: April 14, 2018
I was always scared of geese. My mom told me when I was young they can break a man’s arm. I wasn’t sure how a bird would use its wings or beak to break a human arm but 6-year-old wasn’t prepared to take any chances. In fact, 31-year old me isn’t taking any chances either!
Still, I’ve become very fond of geese in a roundabout kind of way thanks to the wonderful precision offered by the latest in coffee making tech – the gooseneck kettle. Let’s take a look at the one I own. You’ll see from this picture what an appropriate name that is.
It’s exceptionally useful for mastering your Pour Over brew but comes in handy in any method of making coffee. And it looks super cool, too.
Do I need a gooseneck kettle?
The main advantage of a gooseneck kettle – or coffee kettle or pour over kettle – is that it pours water in a thin and easily directable stream. As shown here.
So, why is this so useful?
Well, coffee is all about extraction. It’s not like tea where you throw a teabag and some hot water together and BAM! you’ve got some tea. Coffee is a capricious mistress that dissolves all its different compounds – called dissolved solids – at different rates and different times in the brew.
Early on in the brew, the dissolved solids that extract into your drink are the more acidic compounds and much of the caffeine. Finish your brew too early and it will end up tasting weak, sour, thin, vegetal, overly acidic.
Later on in the brew, the dissolved solids that extract are sugars and more bitter comounds. Finish your extraction at the right time and the balance will give you a wonderful taste that is smooth and brings out the delicate notes of your coffee. Overdo it and your coffee will have an overly bitter taste that is unpleasant to drink.
This is why recording and measuring your brew parameters – grind size, brew time etc – is so important to making good coffee.
How does a gooseneck kettle fit into all this?
The big issue with Pour Over coffee makers is that it’s easy for some of the coffee to be overextracted and some of the coffee to barely be extracted at all. Look at this photo of a finished brew. Do you see how some of the grounds are raised on the side of the device – “high and dry”? That’s going to negatively affect your taste.
Now look at this gif of a spiral pour. The fine control of the gooseneck helps to bring all the coffee grounds into a nice bed at the bottom of the Pour Over, giving you a better extraction and a better cup of coffee.
And that’s not all…
Another issue with making Pour Over coffee is channeling. This is where the water you pour in will take the path of least resistance through the grounds – the grounds that are already wet – and not pass through and so extract any dry clumps in the bed of coffee grounds.
To avoid this you do a quick preinfusion – or prewetting – where you pour a small amount of water over your coffeek and try to saturate the grounds as much as possible. Again, having a gooseneck really helps here as you want to use as little coffee as possible. Here’s me doing a preinfusion, you’ll notice I give it a quick stir which usually helps saturate too.
The photos you are seeing is of my Bonavita BV382510V. I’m not going to hide the fact that I think this one is the best electric kettle. It’s got electric heating which is super fast and an accurate thermometer so you’ve got complete control over your brew. I wouldn’t say that those two things are necessary in the way that a gooseneck pour is, but they’re pretty damn convenient. You do pay a little more for the privilege, of course.
Even if you’re not using a Pour Over, gooseneck kettles are just easier to work with, look beautiful and can come with features like super quick electric heating or temperature control.
And if you’re really serious about your coffee, that last one is important. How hot your water is is a big factor in how well your coffee extracts.
|Lautechco||Coffee Gator||Osaka Tokyo Tower||Bonavita BV382510V|
|Best Budget Gooseneck||Best Stovetop Gooseneck with Thermometer||Best Electric Gooseneck||Best Electric Gooseneck with Thermometer|
|Capacity||12oz (350ml)||1L (34oz) OR 1.2L (41oz)||1L (34oz) OR 1.5L (51oz)||1L (34oz)|
|Material||Stainless Steel||Stainless Steel||Stainless Steel||Stainless Steel|
A few things you should know
Do I need an electric kettle?
If you’ve not ventured much outside of the USA, you’d be pretty surprised how popular electric kettles are. In the tea-drinking climes of the UK they’re as common in a kitchen as a refrigerator! Like, seriously… everyone has one! Click the button and in a minute or two you’ll hear it click off and your water is boiled.
Electric kettles are convenient, but they are a luxury. If you just want something cheap that gets the job done then don’t bother. The Tautechco fits those criteria.
Do I need a thermometer?
If you want to make really GREAT coffee, you need to control things. Measures, times, temperatures. It’s a lot like chemistry.
If your water is too hot it will overextract resulting in bitter and burnt flavors. If your water is too cool then it will underextract resulting in weak and acidic flavors.
And there is no optimal temperature for every person or method. It’s why the SCAA certified coffee makers must produce water between 195degF and 205degF but the inventor of the Aeropress suggest a temperature as low as 175degF.
With a thermometer kettle, you can take the step to really perfecting your coffee. It’s not necessary for a beginner, although with the Coffee Gator coming in at such a low price it’s nice to keep that option open.
Spend my money on this or something else?
If you use Pour Over as your main way of making coffee then you should get one. It’ll make your life SO much easier. And the cheapest option is only $10-15.
Otherwise the answer is more complex. Your first priority should always be to get a decent automatic or hand grinder. That’s the biggest reason most people make bad coffee in their own homes. I would also recommend having more than one method available. If you use French Press, get a Pour Over you like. If you have Aeropress, try a Moka Pot.
If you’re getting to the point where you’re looking at coffee recipes and trying to nail your coffee. Then yes, you need one with a thermometer. The Bonavita is a fantastic kettle for those looking to nail the 182F temp with 87 second brew time and 1:13 coffee:water ratio that tastes like Zeus has personally come down from the heavens and blessed it.
Get all that? Let’s take a look at the best gooseneck kettles…
Best Budget: Lautechco
Important note on this kettle before I start: you’ll need to boil your water somewhere else. These are not designed to be used on a stovetop. You heat your water, put your water in this kettle and then use it to pour. Bit annoying but it’s a great option if you want the control of a gooseneck without paying too much for it.
With that out the way, this is a nice option. It’s very cheap, making it suitable for the occasional Pour Over drinker. Or just anyone who wants to get an inexpensive setup.
The Lautechco is a pretty black stainless steel kettle with a solid build quality. It’s smaller than you might think, only 12oz or 350ml but you can just fill it up again. It has a nice pour and looks pretty. If you’re not bothered about extra features then this ticks all the boxes. You’ll be mastering the art of the spiral pour in no time!
Best Stovetop Thermometer: Coffee Gator
|Capacity||1L (34oz) OR 1.2L (41oz)|
You may have heard of Coffee Gator. An up-and-coming brand in the coffee world who make a decent Pour Over device, among other things. And they’ve really hit it out the park with this one.
It’s a well made device and functions well. The Coffee Gator is easy to make sure you get a precise and reliable temperature each time. The temperature gauge is on the top it’s easy to read off a precise temperature that’s going to make you some kickass coffee.
It’s a stovetop kettle so you’ll need to watch the kettle as it nears your temperature to make sure you stop it at the right point. If you’re looking for something programmable that you can ‘set and forget’ then check out the more expensive Bonavita.
There are two options for capacity, 1 litre (about 34oz) and 1.2 litres (about 41oz). Coffee Gator recommends you only fill up to 60% to avoid overspilling. I think this is a suggestion made with extreme caution in mind, you’ll be fine filling it up all the way.
The greatest thing about this kettle is the tiny dent it takes out of your pocket for a kettle with temperature control – it’s very cheap for what it offers. Throw in fantastic customer service and it gets a big thumbs up from me.
Best Electric: Osaka Tokyo Tower
|Capacity||1L (34oz) OR 1.5L (51oz)|
The Osaka is a pretty looking design and a nicely made kettle. The handle is sturdy and the whole production is good. Also the capacity of 1.5L is about as big as you’re going to get – that’s enough for four decent sized (12oz) coffees.
Its notable feature outside of the gooseneck pouring is electric heating. Click the switch and your water will be boiled. You can wander off and do your morning routine and come back with your coffee ready to be made!
It works out about the same price as the Coffee Gator thermometer kettle. So if this is your budget, you decide which feature is most important for you. Go here to buy it.
Best Electric with Thermometer: Bonavita BV382510V
The Bonavita is the most expensive option on this list and also the best. If you’re looking for something with everything you need in a kettle, get this. It’s ‘buy-it-for-life’ material and I’ll explain why.
As you can see in the photo, the kettle itself rests on an electric heating component that has buttons and an LED display. You manually set the temperature you want. With the Coffee Gator, the thermometer tells you what temperature your water has boiled to. It’s on a stovetop so you have to regulate it. The Bonavita lets you choose the temperature. Plug it in, get the kids dressed, do your hair then come back to your perfectly heated water, ready to be poured.
It actually gives you a real time temperature display, so you can watch the temperature going up and once boiled, it can hold it for 60 minutes. You do need to press the ‘hold’ button though. You shouldn’t need that long but it’s nice if you want to take a quick shower as it’s heating up. Or a shower that ends up being 45 minutes because it’s so nice and warm in the middle of winter…
Bonavita say their kettle is accurate to 1-2°F or 1°C. This is a very precise figure and a lot more than you need, for example the SCAA gives a temperature range of up to 10 degrees as being acceptable. I’ve not done any tests, but it seems very stable in the temperature it chooses which reassures me it’s not zigzagging around. Oh yea, the LED screen can show in °C or °F.
It heats up quickly and is a pleasure to pour from. I can’t recommend this one enough. Here’s the Amazon link to check it out.
– I still am a bit afraid of geese, despite never seeing any evidence of them being aggressive. Funny what sticks with you from childhood.
– With your shiny new kettle in hand, do yourself a favor and pick the Pour Over device that is just right for you, will you?
– One thing I will say is these are not all that suitable for cooking pasta or other times where you need a lot of boiling water… The water comes out so slowly it takes like 5 minutes to pour the whole thing out!