Bonavita Variable Temperature Kettle
Coffee Maker Quality10.0/10
Ease of Use10.0/10
- Adjustable water temperature from 140˚-212˚F
- Gooseneck for a more-controlled pour-over
- Count-up timer can be used when kettle is removed from the base
- 6 preset water temperatures built-in for easy selection
- Comfortable and ergonomic handle
- 1 liter capacity may not be enough for more than a few cups of coffee
- Unit shuts off when (i.e. doesn't hold temperature) when kettle is removed from the base
- Power cord is too short
- Slower to boil (or reach desired temperature) than a standard kettle
- Rust on lid in less than a month*
Sure, the Bonavita Variable Temperature Kettle (BVTK) isn't exactly a coffee maker, but it is an incredibly versatile coffee making tool to have in your kitchen. Manual drip coffee lovers, I'm talking to you especially! Water temperature is one of the most important variables in brewing great coffee, and the BVTK allows you to control for the water temperature almost perfectly.
To me, this is a must have for the coffee lover who wants to perfect his or her pour over technique or merely somebody who wants to control their water's temperature without using a separate thermometer.
This is a coffee tool that I actually own. Check out my unboxing below:
I've owned the BVTK for almost a month now, so I think I can sort out the pros and cons for you pretty nicely while factoring in what others have said.
*Update: Bonavita reached out to me after finding this review and sent me a replacement kettle because rust should not develop on the stainless steel. I do already own a second kettle, and have used it for more than 2 months with no rust, so it was probably just the unit I had. In any case, this was totally awesome of Bonavita…they really stand behind their products.
The Digital Display
It's great. Very clear, bright red numbers. It displays the current water temperature within a 1-2˚ accuracy after you set your target water temperature. It also displays a timer when you remove the kettle from the base, which is cool if you want to time your extraction.
What I'm not crazy about is the fact that the timer is on the base of the unit, and not the kettle itself. I realize this would probably be much more costly and difficult to manufacture, but considering how much heat is lost once you remove the kettle, it's hard to know exactly what temperature you are pouring at. I would recommend that you heat 1 liter of water (the maximum) no matter how much coffee you plan to make. With more water, the temperature can hold for a longer period of time. You knew this from high school Physics though, didn't you?
Goosneck for Controllable Pour
I love it. Seems to be just as good as the Hario kettle. At least one user noted that it was sharp at the edge. Eh, maybe? But I haven't touched the spout accidentally…not even once. Don't know how much damage it could actually do. Personally, I don't see it as a hazard.
One Slight Usability Flaw
Overall, I think the BVTK is very easy to use. You really only have to press 1 button to get the thing going (2 to set temperature). There is however, one thing I can't stand. When you remove the kettle from the heating unit base, it immediately shuts off. What this means is that when you return the kettle to base, you have to turn the thing on again and reset the temperature. This can be a nuisance if you like to let your coffee “bloom”/pre-infuse. Check out what I mean in the video below:
A Little Rust
A bit of rust formed in less than a month on the inside of the lid. This is a little bit upsetting, but isn't the biggest deal. I use filtered water so I'm not sure if that contributed or not. A minor knock on the BVTK's overall quality.
OK, here are the rating breakdowns category by category. I'm going to rate this kettle as if it were a coffee maker, because I still feel it makes up a significant portion of the manual coffee making process. Did you know that coffee is 98% water?
At $90, this is not a cheap kettle. What it really stands to be compared to though are similar models. The most popular gooseneck kettles I've seen are the Hario and the Bonavita standard electric kettle. They cost $52 and $41 respectively at the time of publishing this. Neither offer a way to set the temperature, and the Hario isn't even electric or stovetop (you have to pour the hot water into it). So when compared to the standard Bonavita electric kettle, it is a $50 premium to get the temperature control. Is this worth it to you? Frankly, I'm in the middle. Happy I got this as a gift 🙂
Score: 3 stars
The Coffee Quality
I think it's obvious that I can't give a rating here. All it makes is hot water. We still need that 2% coffee in order to give it a score.
The Coffee Maker Quality
My only complaints are the rust on the lid and the fact that it automatically shuts off when the kettle is removed from the base. I think the rust thing is only a problem that some reviewers have experienced, but it's worth keeping in mind. I do think the inability for the kettle to hold the temperature when being returned to the base is a usability issue though.
Score: 4 stars
Ease of Use
It's pretty simple. There are 6 total buttons on the unit. You can get hot water by simply plugging it in and hitting the on button. Temperature adjustment only takes 1-2 more presses though (assuming you are heating at the presets). So yeah, it won't take you very long to figure this kettle out.
Score: 5 stars
Just make sure it is dry after you use it. You can wipe the exterior with a damp cloth and it will look shiny and new.
Score: 5 stars
My Bonavita Variable Temperature kettle lasted me a little more than 4 years with regular daily use.
Update 4/4/15: At more than 2 years old, this kettle continues to shine. I haven't had any issues with it with the exception of the rust on the lid. I use it almost every day still.
Update #2 11/3/17: The kettle made it almost five years before the thermostat stopped working. What I mean by this is that the temperature on the display jumps all over the place, and most of the time the water merely reaches the boiling point without shutting off to maintain a specific temperature.
I will likely have the kettle replaces with the same version.
The stainless steel and petite size make this a beautiful kettle. The plastic cover for the base detracts from the aesthetics a bit, but you don't have to use it. I'd give this a perfect score, but I think the Hario looks a bit more elegant.
Score: 4.5 stars
Brew Speed (boil speed)
The BVTK takes about 5 minutes to boil a liter of water. I did a speed test with my stovetop kettle and the stovetop kettle won by at least a minute. The BVTK is even slower when it comes to reaching set temperatures, because it turns on an off as it approaches the target temp.
Score: 3.5 stars
For a kettle, this is as versatile as it gets. I don't know of any kettle that has a gooseneck and variable temperature control. For that reason, it deserves 5 stars.
It could use a few improvements in the future, but for now it's pretty much as good as it gets.
Score: 5 stars
Brewing coffee manually is all I've been doing lately, and the Bonavita Variable Temperature Gooseneck Kettle has been an integral tool to have at my disposal. For anybody that is looking to get into manual brewing methods, I highly recommend this kettle over the competition (including the Hario). The problem with the Hario is that you will have to manually gauge the temperature of your hot water (assuming you want to control your water temperature), and this is somewhat inconvenient without an industrial water heater.
It comes with a 1 year warranty, but I don't think I'll need it. I any case, I will update you on its durability.
If you have any questions or experience with this kettle, please share in the comments below. Also, if you found this review helpful and are considering a purchase, please share the credit by clicking the “Buy on Amazon” link above. I will get a small commission and would greatly a appreciate it. If not, no worries, and thanks so much for reading!