Gooseneck kettles are funny looking coffee creatures. You’ve likely seen or at least heard of them before. They’re the ones with the long, skinny spout that rise up like the neck of a goose (gee, I wonder why it’s called a gooseneck kettle). What are they, and how do they differ from regular kettles? And is a gooseneck kettle necessary for your favourite pourover brewing method?
- Firstly, What is a Gooseneck Kettle?
- Reasons to Get a Gooseneck Kettle
- Final Verdict: Do You Need a Gooseneck Kettle?
Firstly, What is a Gooseneck Kettle?
A gooseneck kettle is a kettle that has a long, curved spout which rises up from the base of the kettle.
It’s a very special piece of coffee equipment that’s designed for any type of manual pourover coffee. So, you can use it with:
- A Hario V60
- An AeroPress
- A Delter Press
- A Clever Dripper
- A Kalita Wave Brewer
- A Chemex
- Even a French Press
It’s quite a powerful and versatile tool to have!
You’ll see this type of kettle in every specialty coffee shop and every soft brew coffee bar. If you ever visit a cafe that claims to be specialty coffee, but uses an everyday kettle to make your coffee, run.
So, how is it different and why should you care about one? Trust me, it’s not because it looks all fancy and posh to boost a cafe’s image. Let’s look at the practical reasons for using a gooseneck kettle.
Reasons to Get a Gooseneck Kettle
1. You Can Control Your Pour Better
When it comes to pourover coffee, you need to pour hot water onto the coffee bed in a steady and controlled stream. This is so that your coffee grounds will be evenly soaked, and can absorb the water and release the flavours at the same rate.
A gooseneck kettle is designed for this task, thanks to its long spout. You can control how fast or slow the water flows. You are in complete command of the brew time. And the water will always flow at a steady rate because of the constricted, narrow spout design.
A regular kettle, with its wide spout, means water will come gushing out. You’ll very likely end up with the middle patch of coffee grounds soaking wet all the way through, whilst the grounds off to the edges of the brewer will remain dry. It’s really tricky to pour slowly and evenly with the wide spout of a regular kettle.
2. A Better Pour Means Better Extraction
To evenly extract all the flavour goodies from the ground bed of coffee, an even pour is vital. You do this by pouring hot water in a circular motion over the bed of coffee.
If you use a regular kettle to pour into the narrow opening of an AeroPress or equivalent, you’ll be spilling hot water all around. It’s messy – inside and outside the pourover cone. Some patches of coffee will be soaked, some will be dry.
If this happens, your coffee will end up being either over or under-extracted. If it’s over-extracted, it will taste too potent or just downright bitter. Or, you’ll end up with under-extracted coffee, which tastes sour and off-putting.
Using a gooseneck kettle allows you to pour in circles over and over with great ease. Notice a spot you’ve missed? With the degree of control a gooseneck kettle gives you, you can target your stream of water to hit that area with pinpoint accuracy.
3. A Better Extraction Means Better Tasting Coffee
With a gooseneck kettle, you’ll be able to brew more consistent coffee, day in and day out. Because the long spout controls the flow rate of the water so well, it’s an easy task to evenly wet the coffee grounds.
You’ll also get the motion down to a routine, so with just a little practice, you’ll easily be able to pour at the same speed and brew time.
Put all these together, and that’s a massive win in terms of good coffee. Any barista will tell you just how important consistency is. For home, it’s no different – you don’t want to “accidentally” brew heavenly coffee one day and spit out some murky concoction the next day.
4. You’ll Get Less Strain on Your Wrist and Arm
A gooseneck kettle is designed with wide, ergonomic handles. With the slightest tilt of your wrist, you can change the flow rate and position. Pouring is fun and easy.
With a regular kettle, you’ll have to involve your entire arm to get the same degree of control. This can put considerable strain on your wrist and arm. It becomes that much more difficult to brew good coffee because your only thought is how damn heavy the kettle is. Pouring becomes a chore when your mind is screaming “put it down!”
5. You Can Control the Temperature
A gooseneck kettle’s primary function is to boil water, just like any regular kettle. However, some higher-end electric gooseneck models let you set the specific temperature to which the water boils to. Since using boiling water of 100°C will destroy the flavours in coffee, having this feature is a godsent.
The Specialty Coffee Association’s recommended optimum temperature is 91°C to 96°C (195 – 205°F). So, “hot, but not too hot”. If you’re using a regular kettle, you’ll have to leave it for a set period of time after boiling, and try to estimate how much it has cooled down. With an electric gooseneck kettle, it’s far easier to press a button and set that from the get go.
Note: only some electric models have this option. Stovetop gooseneck kettles don’t offer this feature, as it heats water the old-fashioned way.
Final Verdict: Do You Need a Gooseneck Kettle?
Yes! I absolutely recommend it. Now, in all honesty? You don’t necessarily have to get one straight away. A gooseneck kettle isn’t compulsory, especially if you’re just starting out. It’s always better to first learn the proper techniques, ratios and timing when it comes to brewing pourover coffee.
That said, there is no question that a gooseneck kettle does make the brewing process a lot easier and more enjoyable. It assists with better pour control, avoids spillage, and promotes an even saturation of your coffee grounds. So, focus a little on learning the technical aspects of making a damn fine cup of coffee, and then, absolutely go for it.