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I never got into coffee, but I do love a good cuppa. That said, I have zero respect for the natural process of boiling water. The internet tells us that water boils faster at high altitude, and I’ve been living between 6,000 and 8,000 feet for the past ten years. But I swear it was taking longer. Maybe chalk that up to the inverse relationship between patience and age. Somehow evading the laws of thermodynamics, Zwilling’s electric kettle does something spooky to water, boiling it in a fraction of the time I ever thought possible.
Officially called the Zwilling Cool Touch Kettle, it’s made by the German brand Zwilling JA Henckels, which I’d previously only known for their chef’s knives that have been around since the 1700s. I stumbled upon the kettle while researching knives for a kitchen roundup at a previous job and decided to buy one. Glad I did.
I’ve owned electric kettles before, but they seemed to boil water only moderately faster than a microwave. They also had suspected cleanliness issues, either not allowing access to the interior, or having the heating elements exposed and crusty-looking at the bottom of the kettle. No such problems here, though, with the Zwiling’s fully enclosed, fully accessible interior. I’ve had the kettle for over a year now and it’s got some calcium buildup, but not so bad that I’ve felt the need to clean it.
This kettle is part of Zwilling’s Enfinigy line and besides sounding vaguely indecent, Enfinigy is an indicator of the kettle’s energy optimization. Even though it pumps out 1500 watts of power, it’s using those watts for a short period of time, automatically shutting off when the water reaches a boil. Simple physics explains the efficiency at work here: the hefty amount of wattage, delivered by an equally hefty cord, fires up an internal element that gets hot quickly. The element sits directly beneath your water, sending heat into the well-insulated chamber where it can’t escape into the ether. Since less heat is wasted, there’s more going directly to boiling the water, and voila, hot water faster.
To prove its superiority, I decided to pit the boil times of the Zwilling kettle against my 1,200-watt microwave and natural gas stove. If I compare the results to free throw skills, the kettle is Steph Curry. The microwave and stove are me. In terms of numbers, two eight-ounce cups in the Zwilling boiled in two minutes. The same amount in the microwave took five minutes, and the stove got the water rolling in five minutes and 45 seconds.
You can boil as little as two “cups” at a time (more on that below), which goes fast and saves a bunch of energy in the process. In a ploy to cheat time, I now use the Zwilling to boil pasta water too, adding a tiny amount to a pot on the stove and putting the majority of the H2O in the kettle, transferring it over when it boils. It always results in faster mac and cheese, which makes everyone happy.
My only gripe is the lid. It’s got an easy-open, button-operated mechanism that raises the lid… halfway. Or a little more than halfway, to a 70-degree angle. That’s intentional and meant to keep people from burning their faces with steam, but I always wish it could open a little wider to make adding water and checking the level easier.
The only other issue I have is with the interior measurement markings. There are markers for metric liters, which are as straightforward as the metric system itself. But for imperial units, the cup markers are for “coffee cups,” which someone has decided means six ounces, instead of eight. Nice for that one-cup-to-one-tablespoon ratio for coffee, but trickier for cooking. Also do we need to add more complications to imperial measurements?
I didn’t even mention how good it looks. It’s going to live on your countertop its entire life, so thankfully the matte silver-gray hue and streamlined, single-button interface are lovely to look at. And operation is dead simple. Click the button to start, pull the kettle off the base to stop. The button on the lid is in just the right spot, ergonomically speaking, and the pour is smooth and as slow or fast as your preferred drink requires – from an herbal tea flood to a thin pour-over stream. Not all kettles are worthy of a $115 price tag, but this one is.