With their low-slung spouts and high-mounted handles, pour over kettles are either deliciously stylish or awkwardly cute, depending on your particular style sensibilities. The odd looks have a purpose, though. Pour over kettles are designed to make it easier for you to manage that slow, steady pour that hand-dripped coffee requres. The long, thin spout helps you direct the water flow where you want it to go, and the offset handle is angled for your comfort. The combination of body shape and placement of handle and spout help balance the kettle so that you can maintain a steady pour without straining your wrist and arm. There are an assortment of pour over kettles on the market, each with their benefits and drawbacks. Choosing the one that's best for you means considering several factors to pick the one that fits your needs most closely.
Electric or Stovetop?
The first decision to make is whether you prefer an electric kettle or one that requires a separate heat source. Standard drip kettles are a good choice if you don't always have access to electricity, or if you'd prefer not to plug your kettle in to heat up your water. The Hario Buono Drip Kettle
set the standard for non-electric models, and is probably the most famliar profile to those who drink coffee in drip bars on the East Coast. Most other standard drip kettles follow the Buono's basic style with minor variations in material and shape.
Electric drip kettles do away with the need for an external heat source, and the best of them allow you to maintain water at a set temperature in the kettle for up to an hour. The best electric pour over kettles feature separate base and kettle, allowing you to lift the kettle completely off the heating element. We consider that an essential safety feature in any kettle you'll be using for pour over coffee as it eliminates any risk of getting entangled in the electric cord while pouring.
When it comes right down to it, the design of your pouring kettle should do two things: it should restrict the flow of water so it's easier to control, and it should be balanced to allow more comfortable pouring. The gooseneck spout takes care of restricting the flow. The comfort end of things is determined by the angle and placement of the handle in relation to the spout, as well as the shape and material of the handle. The Hario Buono is fittted with an angled, wavy handle that's easy to grip and control. The Bonavita Variable Temperature kettle
features a wider, closed-loop handle with a comfort grip. Like the Hario, the handle is ergonomically designed to balance the weight of the full kettle so that you can concentrate on the pour. Which is right for you? That depends entirely on your own comfort level. If you have the opportunity to try lifting and pouring with a variety of kettles, you'll get a good idea of what kind of handle shape and angle feels right in your hand.
Water temperature is a vital factor in brewing great coffee. When you're using a stove-top drip kettle -- and, to be honest, most electric pouring kettles -- you're stuck with the usual estimation for judging the right temperature for pouring. The one major exception to this rule is the Bonavita Variable Temp electric kettle, which offers an incredibly precise thermostat mechanism to heat your water to exactly the temperature you want and hold it there for up to an hour. If that degree of temperature control is important to you -- if, for example, you want to brew your Ethiopian coffee at 198 F. and your Guat at 202 F. -- the Bonavita is an absolute must for you.
You can expect to pay anywhere from $50 to $175 for a high-quality drip kettle. If price is important to you, the Hario Buono stovetop gooseneck kettle is probably your best choice. It offers everything you want in a drip kettle at an extremely affordable price. The convenience and extra features of electric drip kettles won't add that much to the price, though. The Hario Buono Electric 1-liter drip kettle
will actually only run you about $20 more, and if you want the electric drip kettle that many have called the best of the best, the Bonavita Variable Temp, you'll still be coming in at less than $100.