In addition to a good grinder, you’ll also want to have a great kettle on-hand. Here are a few of our favorites, in terms of both practicality and interesting design. This guide focuses primarily on gooseneck models, with the exception of one kettle at the end that would make a great gift for the coffee-accessory collector in your life.
If there is one kettle we would recommend owning, it’s the Bonavita Variable-Temp Gooseneck.
Not only does it sport a gooseneck spout for surprisingly fine pour control — the kettle looks deceptively unwieldy at first sight — it also comes with an electric base that lets you set your own temperature (°F or °C) or use one of the six presets available, then have the kettle hold that temperature for an hour. There’s also a count-up timer to help you brew even more accurately. One nice feature is that since the kettle’s heating element isn’t exposed, you can set it directly on a countertop or table, even while hot.
Needless to say, if you want to take your pourover coffee game to the next level, this is the kettle to have. As The New York Times once put it, “It’s like picking up a drafting pen after only writing with Magic Markers.”
[Don’t care for fancy temperature control, or simply want to save a few bucks? Check out the variable-temp’s non-adjustable counterpart ($55).]
Ever been in a coffee shop where they offer pourover coffee? Then you’ve probably seen the Hario Buono kettle in-use or sitting on the counter — and for good reason. For just $36 you get the same sort of pour control as the Bonavita Variable-Temp above, but in a cool retro-style body.
While it, like most kettles, cannot be pre-adjusted to an exact temperature, nor is it self-powered (unless you want to spend nearly twice the money, in which case just get the Bonavita), it can be placed directly on a stovetop burner, gas or electric.
Honorable mentions in this category:
There is no kettle, in our opinion, that is as silky and responsive to a pour. After a little practice, we got a stream of water that was so slow — yet fine and unbroken — that we could see the individual drops of water cohere like we were pouring the tiniest pearl necklace.
We recommend using this kettle with an electric burner, because open flame can cause the handle to become extremely hot. If you must boil on a gas burner, try to offset the kettle so that the handle is not directly above the flame. Its base is a bit smaller than many US-made kettles, so this should be doable in most kitchens.
The Canadian-made Monarch Methods pour over kettle is among the more unique designs we’ve seen, with its small copper construction and handle-less design. You grip it by the tanned harness leather insulator rather than an external handle, giving you better control over the pour. The lid has a recessed port for a thermometer (not included) should you need one.
It should be noted that this kettle is designed for preheated water and not intended for direct heat.
Need a little music in your water-boiling routine? Check out Richard Sapper’s delightful Alessi 9091 kettle, which sports a brass whistle that produces a pleasant little melody when the water’s ready, rather than an ear-piercing screech.
The thing is, it’s not really all that good of a kettle, as these things go. It’s certainly very solidly constructed, maybe even indestructible, but there are tradeoffs: The kettle is quite heavy even when empty, and it takes a long time to heat up. It’s also pretty expensive, at $249.
But, we’d argue you wouldn’t buy something like this for practicality anyway. You can use it like a normal kettle, but it’s more of a fun collector’s item from the 1980s — a quirky art piece you can show off to your friends and family.