Deals: Electric Kettle on Amazon for $12

I spent last week in Berlin with Ectomo's John Brownlee, which was as expected a total disaster. Watching him mince around his apartment in a fez, fending off his constant nagging to do each other's hair, and breathing in cloud after cloud of noxious pipe smoke did little to engender the Christmas spirit. Brownlee is a one man Chernobyl, except his plumes promote cancer of the goodwill toward mankind. Worse, he was fueled by non-stop cups of tea and surprisingly tasty instant coffee*, mixed up with a notion-to-sipping time of under a minute thanks to his handy electric kettle. I'd been thinking about getting one myself ever since we last talked about them, but seeing one in action, even in the leprous prehensile operculum of a human gastropod, was a testament to their usefulness. So I'm buying one, despite my attempt to actually rid myself of extraneous kitchen gadgets. As luck would have it, there's a perfectly decent, 4.5-out-of-5-stars-rated one on sale at Amazon today for $12. And since it's a Friday Sale and will likely go back up tomorrow, I thought I'd pass the savings on to you. Catalog Page [Amazon] * Sorry, Tonx! If it's any consolation, I bought a new order of green beans for home roasting yesterday.
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32 Responses to Deals: Electric Kettle on Amazon for $12

  1. Anonymous says:

    Following your thread with interest. My husband and I recently travelled to USA to “do” Route 66. We are Ausralians, and my husband HAS to have a cup of tea – he rarely drinks coffee. All the motels we stayed at had coffee drip/percolator things, but the water didn’t get hot enough for tea (needs to be boiling). He went to Walmart and asked about buying one – they had no idea what he wss talking about. We looked at different shops – no luck. Here, we consider an electric kettle the most important appliance in the kitchen – prior to this we had electric jugs with internal elements (not very safe) – we never used a kettle on the stove as we reckoned it used too much electricity, and as for using the microwave for heating water, it never gets hot enough for tea.

  2. roguecnidarian says:

    An indispensable part of my dorm room/small apartment, for teas, hot coco, and instant ramen noodles.

  3. spiregrain says:

    Just about every hotel and B&B in the British Isles has a kettle, mugs, a dish of tea bags, instant coffee and sugar sachets and individual UHT milks.

    Lack of this facility in foreign hotels is another tribulation faced by brits abroad.

  4. mralistair says:

    frankly the idea of people not having a kettle is pretty baffling to me.

    In the uk one of the most common peices of advice when moving hose is to keep the kettle in a well marked box near the top so you can make a cup of tea the second you arrive at your new house

    I drink neither Tea nor Coffee but still use the kettle for cooking as it’ll boil water much faster than the hob.

  5. Anonymous says:

    There are reasons why electric kettles are not widely used in the USA. Standard electrical current in North America is only half that of European standard, making a stovetop kettle is just as efficient. Also, the plastic composition and shoddy construction of the readily available models are off-putting (plus, they don’t even whistle when ready).

    It’s hard to find a good electric kettle, but easy enough to locate a cheap one. They can be found in kitchen stores or the big department stores near Universities (the kettle is very handy for students, though fascist administrators sometimes try to ban them as a fire hazard).

    As for tea-making temperature, boiling-point is the important bit, getting the water properly oxygenated (according to my high-school science teacher). Temperature can’t be entirely discounted, and as someone said above, Mount Everest would be a problem, but you won’t have much trouble in most of Switzerland or Colorado.

  6. squality says:

    In Europe, electricity has become the norm for powering all sorts of things. Watches, clocks, toothbrushes, even lighting our homes.

    SpeckledJim – it heats the water same as a stove-top kettle only there’s an electric element on the inside doing the hard work. Once it boils it switches off automatically and you pour on tea or coffee so no major problem with losing “dissolved gases”.

    I can’t believe I’m explaining how an electric kettle works.

  7. SpiroExDeus says:

    I’ve sometimes heated milk in a mug in the microwave rather than a pan on the stove but I can’t say that a microwave is much quicker than a pan on the hob, at least where milk is concerned. Anyway the point I was coming to is, yes it does heat up the mug as well but in some cases it heats up the mug FAR QUICKER and FAR HOTTER than the contents. Perhaps it’s a particular type of ceramic but I’ve learned not to put certain mugs in the microwave if I don’t want to get a burned lip! It’s a weird mindset that people got into that everything’s quicker by microwave. Apparently in the UK a lot of people threw out their pressure-cookers because they thought a microwave would be quicker, which isn’t true in all cases.

    Anyway I’d go for a glass kettle because it’s cool to watch your water boil. However a friend of mine told me about a kettle which actually has an element near the spout and only heats the small amount of water that touches the element as it pours through the spout. I think it pours quite slowly but then you don’t have to wait before you pour… I also heard of a kettle which you can fill full of water and then ‘dial’ how many cups you want to boil. Great for people like me who are too lazy to refill the kettle to the exact amount every time we make a cuppa. I was also thinking: do we need to actually boil the water? Could we just heat it to 80 degrees. Two reasons for this. 1. Energy saving and 2. I just think the steam-switch is such a dated technology, haven’t these people heard of thermistors?

  8. SpeckledJim says:

    Squality, I was asking about Monopole’s hot water dispenser, which keeps water hot indefinitely.

    The two things most likely to create a bad cup of tea are water that isn’t hot enough – for black tea it should be nearly at boiling point – and water that’s gone stale by being kept hot for too long.

  9. Matthew Walton says:

    So… you didn’t already have one?

    Is it just the British who consider the electric kettle a near-essential piece of kitchen equipment only suitably substituted by the kind of kettle you can put on the cooker or the Aga you’ve always dreamed about?

  10. spiregrain says:

    Does water have to be at boiling point or at 100°C? ‘Cuz boiling point varies with altitude.

  11. baz says:

    Spiregrain, please don’t call them the British Isles.. If you’re not British then you can be excused, but please in future say Britain or the UK if you mean Britain, or Britain & Ireland if you mean both (or the Atlantic Archipelago if you really want, but I think that’s taking it a bit too far).

    For those of you that don’t know, this has been quite a bone of contention since Ireland became a Republic.

  12. godwal says:

    I ran out and bought one of these after a trip to England where it was indeed deemed an essential appliance and was really convenient for tea and also french press coffee.

    However, upon receipt of said appliance, I learned that because the U.K., Germany and most of the rest of Europe operate on 230V rather than the U.S. standard 120V, the electric kettle takes a lot longer to heat up here than in Europe, making it less of an essential appliance and only a little better than you can do with an old kettle on a stovetop.

  13. spiregrain says:

    Baz – I know what I’m doing. The seven dictionaries wiki refers to probably do too. None of the other alternative terms for the UK, Rep. of Ireland, Isle of Man taken together, etc are as unambiguous or widely-used.

    Now get this back on topic – tell us something about kettles. Mine has a kind of flat element entirely hidden in the bottom, and it rests on a kind of base unit that the mains cable runs into.

  14. Tombola says:

    Next up: The ‘Automobile’. They’re not so popular in Brooklyn, but are apparently set to revolutionise personal transport the same way the Segway did all those years ago.

  15. dculberson says:

    My kettle has an element suspended about 1/2″ from the bottom, so water is on all sides of it. Heats nice and fast, too, despite running on our weaksauce American 120 volts.

    And .. reading Joel’s post reminded me: grow a thick skin before ever having Joel over! He’s as hard on his friends as he is on pretty little radios that don’t work that well.

  16. baz says:

    Fair enough, I’m just saying that it can be taken as politically incorrect in Ireland.

    To answer your other question, it’s the temperature that is important, not just the fact that it’s boiling (although the bubbles would probably help disperse the flavour etc, but that’s a different issue). For instance it’s practically impossible to “boil” an egg at the pressure found at the top of mount everest, not because the water won’t boil, just that the temperature needed for the chemical reaction just isn’t there because the water can’t reach it.

  17. Infinite Decay says:

    Actually FNARF, the Zojirushi can heat water to the perfect temperature for brewing green tea. The model I’ve seen has separate settings for 175, 195, or 208 degrees F, and the lower temperture is just about perfect for sencha. (Boiling water to would destroy the delicate flavors of this tea.)

  18. squality says:

    IMO a base unit and level meter are must have features in a kettle. I would avoid plastic ones in favour of steel because they for look better and boiling water in plastic just seems wrong for some reason. Let’s face it these things are cheap, so you may as well get a good one.

    SPECKLEDJIM – Sorry, I presumed you were referring to the main post.

  19. Scuba SM says:

    It seems to me from this thread that my family is the only one that boils a mug of water in the microwave to make tea, which we do quite frequently. We each have several mugs of tea a day.

    Or is there something inherently “bad” about nuking the water?

  20. baz says:

    Yeah, that’s always puzzled me about the US.. Being from Ireland, (*fun fact* where we drink more cups of tea per head each year than any other country), a stovetop kettle is quite unheard of..

    When my brother first moved to San Francisco it took him quite a while to find an electric kettle in a shop, and he’s never complained about it taking longer, but #2’s comment does make sense, now that I think about it..

  21. SpeckledJim says:

    I wouldn’t say bad, just risky. If there’s nothing to “seed” the boiling process – smooth, clean mug and no particles in the water – the water can become superheated.

    In that state it can boil very suddenly when you add the tea/coffee, or even just knock the mug slightly when picking it up. (Like the old prank of hitting the underside of a bottle of beer to make it spray all over your drinking buddy).

  22. SpeckledJim says:

    Lower voltage = higher current for the same power. The most powerful British kettles are around 3kW, which would be a hefty 25 amps at US voltage.

    I’ve been unable to find one in the US higher than about 1.75kW, but that’s still tolerably fast when you’re in need of a cuppa.

  23. d2kd3k says:

    I’m a Canadian living in the US, and while I used to find it impossible to locate an electric kettle for sale here, they are starting to show up occasionally in stores.

    My equally tea-affectionate spouse and I would be lost without an electric kettle. I lived in Japan for years, and hence subscribe to their tenet of “heat the person, not the space,” so in winter we bundle up and drink tea rather than cranking the heater.

    I’m glad you’re happy with your great buy on an electric kettle, and that you’ve finally got around to buying one. I hope you enjoy having one as much as we do.

    That said, I’d recommend that when you go to replace this one (we usually wear out cheap kettles in a few years), that you bear in mind another purchasing criteria in addition to price: what your kettle is made of.

    Most of the kettles that we’ve looked at, at least the ones for sale in shops in the US or that we could buy online from the US, were made out of plastic. Or, if they were metal, still had rubber seals and a lot of plastic that come in contact with the water.

    We really do our best to keep plastic out of our kitchen, and the prospect of boiling water multiple times every day in a plastic jug just didn’t strike us a good idea over the long haul.

    We looked for a glass kettle (where “glass kettle” = “only glass and no plastic actually contacts the water”) and came up with the Toastess Cordless Electric Glass Kettle Model TGK-5G. (Out of Canada, ironically)

    It cost around $70 when we bought it (you can find better deals on it online now, and it seems more widely available, too), but it has lasted us for several years, and we are really happy about not drinking leached plastic all day long.

    (I’m not a paid shill for Toastess — just a fan/evangelist, and very grateful to Toastess for making one of the only glass kettles out there in a sea of plastic kitchen gadgets.)

    Onto the next question: now that you’ve got your kettle, do you use a tea pot, a french press, a tea bag, or esoteric tea gadgets?

  24. strider_mt2k says:

    So the guy was a pain in the ass, huh?
    Sorry to read that.

    Have some tea. :)

  25. monopole says:

    I’ll stick with my Zojirushi Electric Dispensing Pot. While it does cost ten times as much, it is well worth it. It keeps 2.2 liters of water at 145,195 or 208 degrees F in a well insulated container. And it never boils down. The microprocessor control automatically shuts the pot down and won’t restart until the system is explicitly restarted by the user. Even if you unplug and plug back in the unit it will not restart until reset.

    Also it features the same magnetic release cords as Apple laptops (although Zojirushi had them decades before Apple did).

  26. SpeckledJim says:

    Unless I’m making a lot at once (in which case it’s loose leaf tea in a pot): straight from the kettle over a teabag in a mug. Leave it to brew for a minute, add a dash of milk, and drink without removing the teabag so it gets stronger as I drink it.

    That last part is probably anathema but I’ve been doing it for as long as I can remember. Recently found a few other people who like their tea that way too. :)

  27. Scuba SM says:

    We take all of our water out of the tap for making our tea. Since our taps have aerators, and there’s naturally dissolved gasses in the water anyway, there is always a nucleation site for the water to start to boil. The only time we’ve had any problems with superheating is when we’ve boiled the same water twice. In any case, I regard the danger of being hit with boiling water from a superheated mug about equal to the odds of me pouring boiling water on my hand from a kettle. The microwave also has the advantage of heating up the mug with the water, so my tea should stay hot slightly longer than pouring hot water in a cool mug. :)

    SpeckledJim: I’m also leave the teabag in the mug until I’ve finished the entire mug. I don’t do that when I’m drinking some good looseleaf, or “special” teabags, however. The only time it’s proven to be a bad decision was when I decided I could save some money by buying store brand teabags…. I’ll never do that again…

  28. SpeckledJim says:

    Are those things pressurized? The water’s going to lose its dissolved gases and go “stale” pretty quickly otherwise.

    Coffee may be different, but tea brews best in freshly boiled water.

  29. Alys says:

    My electric kettle is my best friend – I use it many times daily (esp. when I’m not at work). So this Canadian finds it as useful as the Brits. I even grew up with electric kettles, though my mother did have a stovetop one for awhile. I used to hate how long it took for the water to heat though.

    Definitely an essential kitchen gadget, and well worth the (very little) counter space it takes up in my small flat.

  30. Fnarf says:

    The Zojirushi can’t make tea. 208 degrees isn’t hot enough. It really does need to be at a full, rolling boil to extract the proper flavor. The temperature is a non-negotiable aspect of the process. Americans accustomed to those evil little metal restaurant pots with the bag still in its envelope on the side aren’t drinking tea, whatever they think they’re doing.

  31. Fnarf says:

    Good point, Infinite Decay — I wasn’t thinking of green tea, but black tea.

    As for electric kettles being no more efficient than stovetop ones in the US, because of lower voltage: rubbish. We have a Russell Hobbs that heats water to boiling many times faster than a stovetop kettle, nearly as fast as a UK kettle. And unlike the stove, almost all of the energy goes into heating the water and not the air above the stove. Using a stove to boil a kettle is wasteful and ecologically unsound.

  32. kostia says:

    If you don’t drink tea, it’s far from essential. The last time I wanted one was when I was living in a college dorm room, with my own sink and electrical outlets, but with no access to a microwave or stove. There’s nothing better than electric-kettle macaroni and cheese at 3 am.

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