Friday, July 26, 2013

Hamilton Beach Programmable Kettle

Hamiton Beach Programmable 1.7 L Kettle
Excitement is in the air. I have new teaware to review. Woo Hoo!

I have been looking at electric kettles for a really long time. A few years back I bought a Russell Hobbs kettle with a tea pot and warming tray. I still use it and like it. Well, there are a couple of things about it that I quickly decided aren't for me, like the tea pot and warming tray. I just don't make tea that way. I heat one mug of water at a time and steep in a Bodum French Press. The kettle itself is fine, but it is plastic and I have to guess at the water temperature.

Ideally, what I have been looking for is an all stainless steel interior (no plastic), cordless electric kettle, with adjustable water temperature. I hoped to find all this in a less than one liter size. 16 ounces would be perfect. How hard could that be to find? 

Oh silly me. Such things do not exist. At least not in the American market. To find something that small you have to settle for all plastic, no/or bad temperature control, and/or an exposed heating element. Forgetting the size, you can get plastic free and adjustable, but it is going to cost you. You want how much for that kettle? All I want to do is heat some water!

Not willing to pay as much for a kettle as I did for my first car - OK kidding, but not by much - I became determined to be content with my Russell Hobbs, yet continued to keep an eye out just the same. Recently, I set up a tea station in my den. I already had one in my living room. Struggling with using a coffee drip pot at one of the stations, I decided it was time to get serious and buy another kettle.

I was on my way to buy a simple, inexpensive, mostly stainless steel kettle, when I found this one at our Walmart. The basic, simple version, was about $30. This one was $40. List is around $50. It was $44 online when I checked.

I didn't impulse buy. I came home and read the reviews. They were mixed. Most loved it. A few said it broke almost immediately. Hmmm. I looked again. It has a one year warranty and our Walmart is real good about returns so...

Taking it out of the box, this is a nice looking kettle. The exterior has a brushed finish. The interior is stainless steel and the heating element is concealed. It is cordless and feels rugged when picked up by the handle. The lid is plastic but that really doesn't concern me. The lid push button on the handle works smoothly. The opening is large enough to reach down into the kettle for cleaning, some of the ones I've examined are not.

Immediately upon getting the base out of the box, I noticed a negative. Unless you have this on a kitchen counter with an outlet nearby, you will need a heavy duty extension chord. The one on the base is way too short.

With everything out of the box and set up, I added water and noted I will not be able to tell how much water is in this unless I add more than half a liter. I probably never will, so I'll have to pre-measure.

Plugging it in, to the extension chord, and hitting the on button brought it to life. The temperature of the kettle is easily readable. Some of the reviews said it was difficult to see. Maybe they have changed this feature, but mine is clearly visible. It started at room temp of 71F and swiftly climbed to 212F. The kettle is a little more noisy while heating than I am used to but it isn't annoyingly loud.

At this point it is supposed to automatically hold the water at the set temperature for the next hour. I chose to hit the off button so I could pour. There is an auto shut off feature to prevent damage from boiling dry. I am not going to intentionally test that feature. Pouring was smooth and mess free. The removable screen filter in the spout seems positioned in such a manner as to minimize splash over that typically happens with my Russell Hobbs kettle.

The temperature can be adjusted anywhere between 150F and 212F. There are five presets: 175°, 180°, 190°, 200°, 212°. Getting this feature to work was at first frustrating. Then I realized the program button catches and you have to push a little harder to make it click. If you don't like the presets, use the closest one and then tap the + - buttons to change it.

After using this several times, I realized the kettle remembered the last temperature I had set. If I am having a green tea day, I only need set the temperature once. That's a cool feature.

Some reviews reported the kettle drifted a bit (as much as 5 degrees) when in its 60 minute temperature holding mode. To test this I refilled and set the kettle to 180 degrees and fired it up. The temperature climbed quickly then settled in at 180. I am assuming the readout is accurate as I really don't have anyway of checking. At any rate, I did not get drift.

Honestly even if I did I would not have been that upset by a few degrees, but that is just me. In my experience, most tea really isn't that finicky, and in the cup I am getting excellent results. Other reviewers did note if they waited a few minutes the kettle did cool back down to the proper temperature. Not an issue with my kettle :)

You can also set the clock time and program the kettle to kick on at a specified time. Probably handy but I am not likely to use this feature, so I haven't tinkered with it.

Bottom line - I haven't had it long so I can't speak on the durability. It feels solid. It heats the water just like it is supposed to do. I detected no off odor or taste to the water. The price is very reasonable. Honestly, I don't know what else I would want from a $40 kettle - except contain no plastic and be only 16 ounces. Since that is not going to happen, this will do nicely.

5 comments:

  1. I hope you continue to love it! I have an old Chef's Choice stainless kettle (no temp control, tho) and I love it. Tho for day-to-day I still use the stove top.

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  2. I always want that programmable kettle like this Hamilton here.
    44$ is not much for that classy thing.

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  3. I really appreciate your thoroughness, as I need to get a new kettle for the school year. Excellent food for thought!

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  4. I'm glad to see this post is speaking to people. It is becoming my number two most viewed article. I am still enjoying this kettle. It has only misbehaved one time so far. Once it was set at 175F and just kept on going once it reached the setting. I hit the off button the instant it hit 175 and that may have confused the electronics. At least it did not repeat the runaway heat on later cups. Still for the money, I am happy. Saw it on sale for $38 on Amazon a couple days ago.

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  5. The best thing about it, it is programmable. Hamilton beach, impressive.

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