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It turns out that making a good, tasty, memorable cup of tea or coffee is a lot tougher than you thought. Writing as a tea drinker of 30 years or so, I was surprised recently to learn that I’d been doing it wrong. “Old” water is deoxygenated, so a kettle should have fresh tap water before boiling; still boiling water should be poured into the cup or teapot for a complete brew.
The rules for coffee are similarly complicated, relatively speaking.
So, imagine my surprise when I discovered that what I had learned was only the tip of the iceberg. Teas and coffees of all flavors and origins have huge differences in their brewing times, and temperatures. You won’t be surprised to learn that it can get quite complicated.
Which is where the AppKettle comes in.
AppKettle: An App-Controlled Kettle. Seriously!
When we first heard about the AppKettle, we were a little dubious. After all, how could an IoT-connected kettle be something that you’d actually want? Surely it falls into the same category as a smart fridge?
Well, I’m sure you’ll be surprised as I am. If you’re happy to waste your life splashing recently-boiled water over your coffee beans or granules, or perhaps standing idly while you wait for your tea to brew, then it’s time to move on. AppKettle is for people who want to appreciate their teas — traditional and herbal — and coffees, and get the most out of them by getting the brewing time and temperature right.
It Looks Like an Ordinary Kettle
With smooth, sleek lines and a metallic finish, the AppKettle can indeed by used as an ordinary kettle. But why would you want to?
Heat-resistant silicone covers the handle and lid, protecting your hands from burns. The AppKettle is the world’s first double-glass water window kettle, and both are printed with accurate water measures, in liters and cups. Having windows on both sides of the kettle make it ideal for right- or left-hand use.
Inside, the element is hidden, reducing the buildup of limescale, and the stainless steel build means that you can use natural cleaning methods. (The product’s creator, Robert Hill, told me that a mix of cider vinegar and water is ideal.)
The base of the kettle is the first hint you get that something “smart” is going on. Here, you’ll find an LED display showing the temperature of the water, plus temp controls and connectivity indicators.
A Smart Kettle You Control with Your Phone
Those base unit controls are useful enough, but they’ll only help you to set a temperature and boil your kettle while you’re stood next to it. To get the full effect of a cloud-connected smart kettle, you’ll need to install the app, which gives you full control over the collection of technology that is hidden within the base.
Available for iOS and Android, the AppKettle app can be found via the App Store and Google Play. Note that for the latter, Unknown Sources needs to be temporarily enabled for the app to download an extra bit of software to manage notifications.
Once installed, you can connect the app to your kettle by ensuring both are connected to your home network. Connecting the kettle is remarkably straightforward. With the app installed on your Wi-Fi-enabled phone, you’ll need to hold the Wi-Fi button on the AppKettle base until it is detected. After selecting the wireless network, and inputting the passkey, the kettle will pair with your phone via the home network.
All of this can be achieved within five minutes of opening the box, removing the AppKettle and its base, filling it with water and getting ready to start boiling. No tea? AppKettle offers its own line of fruit teas, just in case.
Make a Cup of Tea with an App
To see just how useful AppKettle is, I had a go at boiling it via the app. This was the moment at which my eyes were truly widened. I mentioned the fruit teas and the various temperature differences and brewing times earlier — this is the key to what the AppKettle is all about.
Conceived by Robert Hill back in 2011, the idea was initially about having a smartphone app to switch the kettle on. But with the proliferation of teas with varying temperatures and brewing times, it made sense to incorporate these into the AppKettle.
The result is an app that lets you choose a type of tea and boil the water to the correct temperature. After pouring, a timer will start, and alert you when the cup has brewed for the appropriate duration for that particular type of tea.
AppKettle App Walkthrough
To see just what I mean, look at these screenshots.
You begin by making sure the app and kettle are connected. Open the app, and on the main screen, tap the Standby button in the lower-right corner. Immediately, you’ll see how much water is in the AppKettle, an accurate representation courtesy of the technology in the base unit.
Next, tap the temperature meter on the left to set the temp, and let the kettle boil. You’ll receive notification when the kettle is at the intended temperature, which is ideal if you’re away from the device.
Whether at home or work, AppKettle’s sharing feature is surprisingly useful. No more gesturing at people, or opening your desktop email client to send an office-wide email. All that is required now is that you hit the Share button on the main screen, select your favored messaging system, and send the pre-composed message (you’ll be able to change this via the Customise Share Message screen).
Prepare a Bottle for Baby
To show you just how good the AppKettle is, here’s a look at the options for preparing water for a baby’s bottle. After selecting the Baby Bottle option, you just need to set the time you want it ready for, the size of the bottle, and the number of bottles required. Once saved, AppKettle will boil the water and cool it to around 70°C/158°F. While this is too hot for baby, it’s the temp required for making formula milk. (After this, some cooling will of course be required to reach the safe temperature.)
Just so we’re clear, AppKettle allows you to boil a pre-filled kettle to a preset temperature, at a pre-determined time, via your phone — from anywhere, via 3G/4G or Wi-Fi (2.4Ghz – 802.11 b/g/n). The app will alert you when the selected tea or coffee has brewed. Favorite hot drinks can be set in the app, and the app integrates with your favorite messenger to invite people around.
It even enables you to schedule the heating of water to a suitable temperature for baby milk formula!
All in all, this is a pretty strong set of features.
What’s Inside the AppKettle?
Once you’ve pulled the AppKettle out of the box, you’re presented with a kettle and a base unit.
Measuring 240 x 203 x 320 mm, the kettle has a 1.7-liter (57.5 oz.) capacity. You can boil up to 10 cups from a full kettle — just make sure you’ve got water in the AppKettle before you boil or schedule it via the app!
Although the element is in the kettle, along with the silicone-covered handle and lid, and the visually striking windows on the side, the magic happens in the base.
Custom-designed to enable wireless connectivity and precise temperatures (within 1°C), the kettle has 128-bit AES security to prevent unauthorized connections via the internet. Given the widespread lack of security in other Internet of Things devices, this is a very welcome addition.
On top of this, you’ll find features that you’d find in other top-end (but unconnected) kettles, such as a removable limescale filter, and boil-dry protection.
You Either Appreciate Tea and Coffee, or You Don’t
I’m certain that the idea of the AppKettle isn’t going to appeal to everybody. For under $10 you can pick up a low-cost kettle that will boil water and let you pour it over your coffee or tea bags. Like the AppKettle, it doesn’t fill itself up; unlike the AppKettle, however, a $10 kettle won’t tell you when your tea is at the optimum brewing point.
The AppKettle is the Jaguar of kettles. It’s there for people who appreciate the tea, just as the driver of a quality car appreciates the drive. I was doubtful about it before I got the chance to try it out, but the AppKettle is truly a remarkable device, and brings a new dimension to the creation and enjoyment of hot drinks, with or without the caffeine.
The first smart kitchen device you can rely on, the AppKettle can be programmed to the right temperature as you return home, head to work, or relax in bed on a Sunday morning. Every kitchen should have one!