Put the kettle to the metal

At one point recently during my self-imposed coffee home schooling I decided I could no longer put up with our “trusty” electric kettle, an old corded hunk of plastic made by Proctor Silex with exposed heating elements. I’d just started messing around with pourover back then, so its big chunky spout was a problem; however, in all honesty it did an adequate job of providing boiling water with which to fill the oil can I quickly began using in lieu of a Hario Buono (see here). No, my beef with the P(o)S was primarily aesthetic. Never mind that I hadn't noticed an “off” plastic taste before; I wanted metal, and I wanted it fast—gooseneck spout be damned. If you find yourself in the same boat, maybe the brief notes that follow will help in some way.

A little window-shopping over at Sweet Maria’s got me interested in the Pino Digital Pro, with its ability to heat to a specific temperature and maintain that temp. I then learned that the previous generation of this kettle (with temp. displayed in Celsius), the Digital Express, was on clearance for $40 less (click here and scroll down to the bottom of p. 1). In fact, it still is. What to do?

Ultimately, the latest-gen. features on the Digital Pro that I’d be missing out on by bargain hunting made me hesitate. I'll quote Pino here on this:

[re: the Digital Pro]

1. It is our second generation of Digital Kettles and has several improvements such as;

2. Thicker stainless steel used for the body of the Digital kettle Pro.

3. New and improved temperature controller.

4. Digital components have been moved to the base rather than the bottom of the kettle where they are exposed to much more heat.

5. Base and kettle connector have been redesigned and it is easier to put the kettle back on the base.

6. The sprout is plastic free in pro but Digital Express has a filter made from plastic

After not pulling the trigger, I still “needed” something, of course, so I picked up an Aroma kettle at Target (Amazon’s listing has better pics). The Aroma is cordless, which is great, and the heating element is immune to scale build-up by virtue of being concealed. Woot. Furthermore, the kettle is mostly made of stainless steel. Demi-woot.

I say *mostly* stainless because, as with the Digital Express discussed above, there’s still the matter of a pesky plastic spout filter. It actually consists of 2 parts: a plastic housing wedged into the spout and a fine mesh filter (metal + plastic) that slides in and out of the housing. If I may, I’d like to suggest that you leave the whole thing alone. Otherwise, you’ll discover (as I did), that while the mesh filter is designed to be removable, the housing isn’t. You’ll probably manage to damage one of its little plastic tabs when you pry it out. And even if you somehow avoid doing so, you’ll find (as I did, once again) that the Aroma’s auto shut-off doesn’t work without the filter assembly in place. A pressure sensor is apparently responsible for switching off the kettle and won’t “trip” unless sufficient steam pressure is allowed to build up inside (as opposed to escaping through the unobstructed spout).

At first, I didn’t really miss the auto shut-off feature. My wife did, though, and she didn’t much care for my suggestion to just put a piece of thick foil over the spout in order to keep steam from pouring out once her water had reached the boiling point. In the end, I massaged our now-imperfect spout filter back into place, restoring the kettle’s stock auto shut-off functionality, and abandoned my silly, modernist dream of an all-metal pathway from kettle to coffee cup. For the time being, that is. In all other respects, I’m happy with my Aroma kettle, and you might be as well. With your own, I mean. You can’t have mine (sorry).

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