Yes, I really am writing a review of a kettle.
For those who don't know, I love my coffee. A kettle is one of the most fundamental pieces of kit you need. The right kettle helps when it comes to brewing with a cafetiere, pour-over filter, chemex or aeropress.
The AEG EWA7800-U 7 Series Digital Kettle is a mid-range kettle. What I mean by that is that it sits between the cheapest and the most expensive.
There are very cheap kettles that do the simplest task you require: Boil water to 100 degrees, then switch off automatically. These days, most of those are fast boiling kettles, meaning they do a quicker job than the old-school 1.5 KW kettles. The absolute cheapest have a coiled element in the bottom which means you have to fill above the element, and (in hard water areas) limescale collects on the element. Better ones have a hidden element, so the base of the inside of the kettle is a smooth metal surface. Cordless kettles are almost ubiquitous these days, where a base plugs into the mains, and the kettle just lifts off the base (rather than unplugging a cord from the kettle itself).
There are very expensive kettles that do everything. These days, that means they are internet connected, controllable via an app, etc.
The AEG EWA7800-U 7 Series Digital Kettle sits comfortably between those two extremes. It's more expensive and more featured than the bare bones basic, but is cheaper and less fancy than the top of the range ones.
If you're after something mid-range, read on.
The particular feature I wanted for making coffee was to have a kettle with variable temperature control.
There are several of these on the market. Typically, they have several temperatures you can select (100, 90, 80, etc), and the water is brought to your required temperature. They also usually have a keep-warm function, where you can ask the kettle to hold the water at, say, 80 degrees.
The absolute best for this, for coffee, is the Brewista SmartPour Variable Temperature Gooseneck Kettle. It is extremely controllable, and has the gooseneck spout for precision when you're doing pour-over brews. However, it only holds 1.2 litres, is only rated 1.5 KW, and always pours slowly even if you don't want that. (You may also want to look at the BonaVita equivalent, which is rated more highly, but hard to get hold of — although it only holds 1 litre and is 1 KW).
If you have the space to have a second kettle, just for coffee, those may be great. But if you're brewing coffee one minute, then pouring 2 litres of boiling water into a pan for pasta the next, those aren't suitable as all-round kettles.
So I wanted temperature control, with keep-warm, but that also serves as a good all-rounder.
Previously, I'd used the Bosch TWK86103GB Styline, but when the second of those had to go back for failure during the warranty period, it was time to look for something different. The Bosch TWK8633 Styline is very similar, but with controls on the base rather than on the handle of the jug.
Having found the AEG EWA7800-U 7 Series Digital Kettle, I discovered that it's an improvement on the Bosch range in several respects. (In fact, the one thing I can't yet comment on is its reliability).
The AEG has a good fine spout that allows you to control how the water pours. It may not be as good as the goosenecks for that, but if you also want the water to come out rapidly when required this is as good as it gets.
Lots of temperatures
The Bosch kettles had a choice of 70, 80, 90 and 100 degrees.
This one gives you a choice of 50, 60, 70, 80, 85, 90, 95 and 100 degrees.
Although in fact you can stop at any temperature you choose (just not automatically) because of the next feature.
Actual temperature display
Once you've chosen the temperature you wish the water to be brought to, the display changes from showing the target temperature to showing the actual temperature of the water inside the kettle.
This means you can bring the water to 64 degrees, if you wish to.
It also means that you can verify the kettle has done its job (assuming that the thermostat is calibrated correctly), because after bringing the water to 90 degrees you can see that it's at 90. You can also watch as it eventually drops to 89, then to 88, and so on.
Contrast the Bosch kettle: If you bring the kettle to 80 degrees, and then press "start again" after pouring some water away, you'll find that the residual heat in the element has brought the water to what it thinks is 90 degrees. (The AEG turns off slightly below the target temperature to prevent this).
Keep Warm actually works
The Bosch kettle guessed how to keep the water warm. If you bring the water to 80 degrees, with keep-warm turned on, it pulses a quick blast of heat every few seconds to keep the water at the right temperature. But it isn't measuring the temperature inside the kettle to get this right; it's pre-programmed to deliver the right lengthed pulse of heat, at the right interval. It seems to get it roughly right if the kettle is filled full; for a part-full kettle, the water gradually gets hotter. That's leaving aside the fact that, although it says 80, it's probably at 90 by this point anyway (see above).
Whearas, the AEG EWA7800-U goes off the actual temperature. Once the water drops by 5 degrees from the temperature it's keeping at, it heats again until it reaches the keep-warm temperature.
There are a few disadvantages:
- The metal jug gets very hot; take care only to hold the kettle using the plastic handle.
- The control buttons "beep" every time they are pressed, and the kettle emits 3 beeps when the water boils (or reaches the target). Some way to disable the beeps would be nice.
- The kettle remembers the last preset temperature. If you mainly want to boil water at 85 degrees, that saves you setting it each time. I suspect most people mainly boil to 100 degrees, and occasionally make a drink requiring a lower temperature. Personally, I'd prefer it if it forgot the previous preset, and always started at 100 degrees unless you choose something else.
Those are minor quibbles. For a mid-range kettle, with temperature control, for brewing coffee but also for general kitchen use — this is excellent.