This Countertop Appliance Was an Eyesore in My Kitchen—Until Aarke Redesigned It
I tap it for tea, French-press coffee, and instant ramen.
Published Sep 21, 2023 8:10 AM
We may earn revenue from the products available on this page and participate in affiliate programs.
After my boyfriend and I moved into our first New York City apartment together—a tiny one-bedroom in Hell’s Kitchen—he bought an electric kettle without consulting me. The first time I laid eyes on it, I was rattled: Space was already hard to come by. Our kitchenette offered a mere foot of useable countertop, relegating most of our chopping and dicing to a butcher block bar cart nearby. The makeshift island was where we also wrangled all of our flatware into an oversize mug, as there wasn’t a single available drawer to house them in. My objection to the surprise appliance was that there was nowhere for it, let alone any other item in our kitchen, to go—and yet…
His affordable Amazon kettle purchase conveniently ended our dependency on the microwave to boil water, but I could not help but scowl every time I switched it on. It was the definition of a techy mess: It lit up bright blue when in use with a bulky exterior covered in numbers, matte black hardware, and a scratch-revealing “stainless steel.” If I had enough space to keep it hidden away in our cabinets, it would be another story. But six years later in our third apartment where every inch of space is once again precious, it was an eyesore I could no longer stand. So as soon as Swedish brand Aarke dropped its new design earlier this month, I did the unthinkable and bought another electric kettle.
Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of kettles out there that look good, but not so many with temperature controls. Focusing on that alone, there’s allure in my boyfriend’s first pick. All I had to do when brewing green or black leaves was press a button for water to immediately heat up to an ideal extraction; it’s a feature that came especially in handy for coffee, for which water needs to be hot, but not too hot, just below a roaring boil (200 degrees Fahrenheit). A lot of editor-recommended kettles weren’t so exact. The pleated Alessi Plisse is pretty but only capable of one boiling temperature, and the same can be said about George Sowden’s take for Hay. And while Fellow’s Stagg delivers precision, we needed something larger that would also come in handy to whip up prepackaged oatmeal and instant noodles, where a gooseneck style felt cumbersome.
When I first saw the Aarke announcement, I had a strong feeling it would be the perfect fit for the both of us (the main reason I didn’t balk at the splurge-worthy price point). For me: a mirror-reflective stainless steel exterior with subtle round edges that, after unboxing, just about took my breath away. For him: a hidden treasure trove of bells and whistles to satisfy his form-over-function attitude. After roughly a week of use, we’re ready to permanently make the switch—here’s why.
For starters, it can hold around the same amount of water as our former appliance (1.7 versus 1.2 liters), and it offers multiple temperature settings, ranging from 104 to 212 degrees Fahrenheit, in an aesthetic silhouette that feels compact (it sits neatly in between my drip maker and Baratza coffee grinder). The numbers are subtly etched into the bottom and glow faintly to indicate your selection, which you toggle between with the power-base button. Left untouched for three seconds, the kettle will automatically start doing its thing.
The act of boiling is quiet and I welcome the singsong rather than cloying alert of when it’s ready to pour. Despite being dressed head to toe in steel, the handle is totally heat-safe. I’d say only the top seems to get superwarm, but because its nondrip spout keeps random scorching droplets at bay (the top softly opens at the press of a button on the outside, no digital indicators to be seen here!), it’s hard to imagine how an accidental burn might even happen.
However, the double-wall, heat-retaining construction is no joke. It is energy efficient, yes, but during the initial setup, which calls for two max boils and five minutes of cooldown before emptying, I forgot about it the second time around. Nearly a half hour had passed and the water was still steaming. Plus it even boasts a couple of features the previous one didn’t: a lime-scale filter and dry boil protection. Forget to add water before powering up? The Aarke won’t let that happen.
That isn’t to say it’s perfect. I was bummed to learn that there was no indication on the inside to inform me of the amount of water being added (just a mark at the midway and max points). Math is not my strong suit, and I had become dependent on my old kettle for showing not just how many liters I was boiling but how many cups, too. Thankfully, the French press I own does, so the point is kind of moot. Still, I’ll take those very few shortcomings to have a kettle I don’t mind looking at every day, especially since I plan to keep this one around much longer than the last. It’s now perhaps the prettiest appliance on my new beverage cabinet.