A gooseneck or pour over kettle may at first glance come across as a superfluous addition to your pour over gear. It is something that looks cool on the counter or in the hands of the barista at your local cafe. However, that barista is using that kettle for a good reason. In short, the shape of the kettle spout gives the barista precise control over the brewing process.
What makes the gooseneck so suited to brewing great coffee? Simply, it allows you to pour exactly the right amount of water precisely where you need in the time you want. The spout is designed to keep a smooth stream of water no matter the flow rate you are pouring at. It is all about the control. Thus, whether you are fully tilting the kettle to allow the maximum amount of flow, or barely tilting it to get a small trickle, the water will come out of the spout in a consistent and controllable manner.
Why is it so important to have all this control? Even extraction. At the beginning of a brew during the bloom you want to be able to quickly and evenly wet all the coffee to set up the coffee bed for the other pours you are going to make. With every pour you want to be able to wet the whole coffee bed to allow water to evenly seep through the grounds. This is important as it is difficult to avoid a level of over or under-extraction without this level of control.
Coffee recipes at their most basic are just instructions on how much water to pour at certain times during the brew. For the recipe to work, you need to be able pour the water in just the right amount of time to get the total brew time to where you want it. For example, a recipe might call for 50 ml pours every 30 seconds after the bloom. Importantly, each 50 mL pour must have a similar total pour time (every pour must be within 4-5 seconds time of each other) while controlling the flow so the coffee bed is preserved and the coffee extracts evenly.
Additionally, once you dial in your grind for a coffee the control of the gooseneck allows you to subtly alter your pours. These slight alterations will help bring out different aspects of the brew that might not otherwise come forward.
Some of these might be:
- Smaller number of pours for a lighter cleaner cup
- Larger number of pours to increase extraction
- More of the water in the first pour to bring out more sweetness
- Heavier pours for more agitation
- One continuous slow pour for a sustained slurry (mix of coffee and water) level and/or temperature.
The gooseneck kettle is an integral part of the puzzle for handcrafting interesting and delicious cups of coffee. In combination with a scale and a timer there is no end to the ways you can brew with your kettle.
An electric goose neck kettle is a step further into ease of use and adjustability of brew. Just like your kitchen kettle at home, these electric kettles boil their own water. Thus, as soon as it hits the right temp you are ready to brew. There is no second step and no waiting for the water to cool off the boil. The variable temperature setting on these kettles allows for more than just instant brewing – it gives you the ability to adjust your brewing temp to achieve different results from the same recipe. For instance, a bean that seems to constantly taste over extracted might need a slightly cooler temperature; conversely, a bean that always seems under extracted may need a slightly hotter water temperature.
Lastly, it is important to point out that brewing coffee manually with a kettle just...feels good!! It feels like you are authentically crafting a cup with your hands. The kettle becomes an extension of your arm - the small dips and gentle circles are ritualistic movements. You feel connected to your coffee through the kettle, and you are allowed to shut everything out for a few minutes and just concentrate on the flow of the brew as you make your best cup.