Written by Sarah Rodrigues
What’s a kitchen without a kettle? They’re such an essential item that you’d be forgiven for putting almost no thought into buying one - they’re just kettles, right? Wrong. Whether you're a tea or a coffee drinker, a boiling pot shortcutter (thanks, Jamie Oliver!) or just a hot water bottle lover, there’s more to your kettle than meets the eye.
Electric or stove top?
Electric kettles tend to be the norm, but the style of your kitchen should be considered here: if your decor is rustic and traditional, a stove top kettle will probably look better. If you have an induction hob, make sure you choose a kettle that’s compatible. Electric kettles take up counter space but boil water more quickly; they also tend to come in a variety of finishes, so finding one to match the style or colour of your kitchen shouldn’t be hard. Bear in mind that the cords associated with electric kettles can be an annoying eyesore, though.
Keep it green
Be sure to look for an energy-efficient kettle: several electric models have a quick boil facility and automatic switch off that stops electricity being used unnecessarily. Speed of boiling is also a factor - it’s not just about how quickly you can get that boiling hot water pouring on to your teabag, but also how much energy has been used in reaching that boiling point! Look at the power, which will usually range from 1.7kW to 3kW: the higher the wattage, the speedier the boil - and the less electricity used.
Keep it clean
Limescale looks horrid enough when it’s collected on the inside of your appliance - the last thing you want is to see it floating scummily on the surface of your hot drink. Look for a kettle with a removable, washable filter.
A Quiet Life
A stove top kettle will have a whistle to alert you to the fact that the water has boiled; if you find this noise too piercing, you can flip the spout open to stop it from happening - but the danger is that you’ll forget you’ve put the kettle on and it will be boiling dry on the stove top and wasting energy to boot. Electric kettles aren’t necessarily noise-free either - the higher the wattage (and the speedier the boil) the louder they’re likely to be. If this is a concern for you, look for a model with Quiet Mark approval.
You pour thing
Another factor it would be easy to overlook is how well the kettle pours, so look at the shape and size of the handle and be sure that it provides a good grip, as well as at the shape and size of the spout, to ensure that the hot water pours smoothly and doesn’t sputter all over your hand when the kettle is tilted.
Fill ‘er up
A kettle that fills through the spout only may look more streamlined than one with a removable lid, but may quickly irritate you due to the amount if time it takes at the tap. Check also that the kettle’s size and shape works well with your sink and tap height.
Think about the number of people in your household and choose your capacity accordingly. Alternatively, make sure your kettle has a clear viewing window so that you can fill your kettle to the level required per boil, which will reduce wasted energy.