Monday, August 25, 2008

Braun Aqua Express: Product Review

A review first! As a loyal drinker of tea each morning, I was discouraged when I returned from Canada, a land where not everyone drinks Tim Hortons yet, to find that in my absence, mysteriously our electric kettle went on the permanent (lack of) blink. I was reduced to heating water in glass measuring cups in the microwave until Layne found Braun's WK200, model 3217, to be exact. While I had liked the Procter-Silex model I'd used at our rental in Toronto a month ago, it did not garner the Amazon ratings that Braun did, over four hundred and mostly five-star. Layne made an end-run around my wish-list, and since Niall wanted a particular kind of doohickey ice cream maker that attaches to a Kitchen Aid mixer, she added the water boiler. I gave it four stars, as you can read why, for a couple of cautions, but I'm happy to have an efficient dynamo of my own!

This does heat up rapidly, as most reviewers concur. It holds up to seven cups, and even at full capacity boils up faster than earlier machines I used took to heat less than half this amount of water. You can fill it with the lid shut as well as open, a thoughtful feature. The lid can also be locked, of course. It's a bit heavy when there's more than a couple of cups worth of water in it, but it's solid and feels durable.

I like the separation of the base from the water container. There's less exposure to contact points that can get wet than with some other models. The cord certainly is short, no more than a few inches even if uncoiled from its wraparound base, but this keeps in many kitchens I suppose the risky apparatus from tipping near the sink, as has happened with my previous electric kettles, which wound up getting in countertop puddles inevitably, hastening those machines' demise.

I was about to purchase a similar, and far cheaper one, but this Braun, made in the Czech Republic, has European workmanship combined with clever touches-- for instance, there's a reinforced hand protecting layer where your fingers will come into contact with the plastic container. The rest of the surface, outside of your hand's reach, will get quite warm, more so than other kettles, so be forewarned. The power involved in the boiling means this is a device for serious cooks, not only tea-drinkers. My kitchen-savvy wife can use this for heating up lots of water fast to expedite cooking demands, and I can employ it for my less-intensive cup of tea preparation.

So, as with many such items in a well-stocked kitchen, this may be at the higher side of the price range, but after having worn out two less expensive electric kettles, I predict this one will live up to its reputation and outlive its predecessors, with care and cleaning. There's an anti-calcification filter that detaches (it can come off if you're fumbling around the spout, so be careful) and this added feature can prolong the life of the machine, as well as periodically boiling the minerals out of it.

The double-sided see-through level indicator shows the planning involved in a higher-quality appliance. The dark blue shade's a bit too artsy, blocking faraway view of how many cups are inside bubbling away, but this may be for shielding purposes, who knows? The water level turns out darker, but not as easily contrasted with the area where there's no liquid. Seems to me some sort of brightly floating spirit level bubble would have been preferable to minimize squints.

The base is wide enough to discourage tipping, while the plug's brevity may cause you to rearrange space for it on a counter away from a faucet's hazard. A safety factor, and you can always put it on an extension cord, although it's a one-way triple grounded plug. Its large capacity and solid feel should convince many to invest the few extra dollars in it. Since many buyers will be using it at least once daily, it's worth finding the better crafted product.

1 comment:

Layne said...

I suspected that the electric kettle decision would have stretched on for as long as the wife canceller research. The thought of someone carrying big pyrex cups of boiling water through the kitchen at 4:30 a.m. gave pause so I researched only briefly and sprang for the best rated medium priced model which I hope makes for joy and wonderful tea, a long life and safety. Am debating about taking the bull by the horns on the electronic chess set someone covets and is...researching.