Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Why I Am Less Impressed With This Electric Kettle (The 675) Than The Other Chef's Choice One!

The Good: Boils water fast, Easy to clean, Pot is virtually indestructible
The Bad: Utterly unnecessary, Expensive, Spout shape, Takes a long time to shut off after boiling.
The Basics: Disappointing in its design, the 675 Chef's Choice Cordless Electric Kettle still more or less does what it promises in terms of functioning.

Last year, I moved and found myself compelled to purchase an electric kettle. Despite the fact that I have mocked these products for years, I have found myself using my Chef's Choice 677 Cordless Electric Kettle (reviewed here!) quite a bit to make tea at my new house. But when I discovered that electric kettle and fell in love with it, it got me looking at and testing other electric kettles for comparison. Having spent a week with the Chef's Choice 675 model, I find myself reassured that I made the right choice with the 677. The 675 is a little bulkier (squatter, but fatter) and it seems to have some flaws that the 677 worked out with its more contoured shape.

The 675 Cordless Electric Kettle is a tough sell for me, mostly because I was not fond of the shape and the spout was so wide I frequently poured boiling water all over and that was not cool. As well, I did notice - like the other individual who has reviewed this product - that this particular unit seems to take longer to shut off than most. So, even after the water has been boiling for three or four minutes, the auto-stop function does not engage. I have never had it take more than seven minutes for it to shut off automatically, but I found I did not trust this unit the way I trust my regular one.

The Cordless Electric Kettle 675 from Chef's Choice is a two-piece electric appliance that makes the user feel like they either must be a complete idiot who needs a separate tool to boil water or a complete recluse who doesn't want to interact with others. I'm definitely the hermit type, even when living with others, so this comes in handy for avoiding those who live below me when I don't want to go down to the kitchen. The Cordless Electric Kettle is comprised of a black plastic base and the actual kettle.

The base is a simple seven and a half inch in diameter plastic disc with a cord that plugs into a three-prong wall socket. The cord is only three feet long, but for those who do not need a cord that has to stretch even that far, below the disc are tabs that allow the user to wind the cord up and contain it under the unit. This is handy and there are no issues (I've had) with keeping the base level after winding the cord under it. There are soft-rubber feet on the underside which both protect finer surfaces from any sort of scratching from the plastic bass. Moreover, the rubber feet provide friction so the unit is remarkably stable and does not move from any flat surface I've set it upon. Considering the whole point of this gadget is to boil water, this is probably a great idea and I have found that it works quite well.

Atop the disc is a knob that comes from a slightly raised, contoured inner disc. This is where the kettle itself attaches to the base. The base simply plugs into the wall and sits where one leaves it.

The actual electric kettle portion is a seven-inch tall stainless steel pot that is accented with dull black plastic for the handle and flip top. Unlike the 677, which tapers near the top, the 675 is shorter, but maintains its width constantly. It is just as fat at the top as it is at the bottom. The kettle sets on the base and when together, they are very stable and hard to tip over. To be fair to the 675, this unit is probably even more stable than the 677 because it has a constant center of gravity as it does not taper. The kettle has a 1.66 Liter capacity (in practical terms, this is two full steeping pots worth of tea!) and that takes approximately five minutes to come to a very full boil.

Operating this is so simple it almost defies explanation: fill with water, place the kettle on the base (assuming it's plugged in), depress the "on" button on the back of the kettle (it lights up orange when active) and wait. On the back of the kettle, there is a scale in liters (1.0, 1.25, 1.5, etc.) to let one boiling water for a recipe (I suppose) figure out how full to fill the kettle.

When the water is boiled and ready, the unit turns itself off. This function (as mentioned briefly above) seems less consistent with the 675 than with the 677, so those who are unsure of the way the electric kettles work ought to keep an eye on this, though it is unlikely it will boil so long without engaging the auto shut off that it will burn anything down.

And then all you need to do is pour your boiling water out and that ought to be easy, but there is an issue here with the 675. The 675 has a wide, strangely flat spout. Unlike most spouts that project out a ways to channel the water, this one is more a weak opening in the top of the kettle. The result is that water flows out of the 675 with far less control than other kettles I have tried. As you might guess, uncontrolled, flowing boiling water is (at best) problematic. In other words, it is very easy to get burned on the water coming out of the 675.

On the other hand, refilling the unit is a snap because of the spring-loaded top which opens by pressing a button on the handle. Moreover, the button is positioned in such a way that makes accidentally opening the top and spilling boiling water on oneself virtually impossible. The 675 has a ridiculously wide mouth, making refilling it even easier than most units.

Yes, it's idiot-proof water boiling and while some of us might have cynically suggested in the past that only an idiot would need this product, it is ridiculously helpful in situations where one needs boiled water but does not have access to a stove.

Cleanup is also incredibly easy. First, I recommend only using filtered water in the unit. This forever eliminates the need to clean inside because nothing ever builds up inside. The stylish stainless steel outside easily is cleaned with a cloth, though if you're just boiling water in it, I can't imagine what you'd get on the outside that it would need cleaning. Don't let children with dirt on their hands touch it and it might never need to be cleaned inside or out!

As for the base, a damp cloth cleans that up (unplug it first).

This is one of those devices that does exactly what it promises and I have to say, I like that it is made of metal. Having broken far too many coffee pots, having a metal kettle both boils the water fast and assures me that I won't have to shell out for another one of these . . . hopefully ever. The kettle gets hot, but so does anything one boils water in so, the rules of common sense do apply.

For those who might need to boil water outside a kitchen stove, there are other electric kettles (most notably the Chef's Choice 677) that will do it more efficiently, stylishly and less dangerously than the 675.

For other electric kettle or kitchen appliance reviews, please check out my takes on:
Hamilton Beach 45802B Electric Kettle
Krups FLF31W Electric Kettle
Westinghouse WSTBW2 Waffle Maker


For other appliance reviews, please click here to visit my index page on the subject!

© 2011, 2009 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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