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I'm In Love with My New Copper Kettle

And my husband isn't jealous! Just kidding...heh. I want to say everybody deserves to love their kettle. A kettle should be one of the minor gods on Mount Olympus, it's such a powerful symbolic icon of the kitchen. The first thing I reach for after I turn on the light in the early morning darkness, still bleary eyed. It generously gives me all that comforting tea all day long - the tea that somehow insures my sometimes tenuous sanity. And cocoa and the boiling water to fill the Cafe' presse with which I finally learned to make perfect coffee.

And since I bought this absolutley beautiful big copper kettle a few weeks ago it's been a thing of beauty always sitting reassuredly sparkling its reddish glow on the back of the stove. And a thing of beauty is a joy forever. I even shined it twice so far, and it's easy. I was scared that the whistle would be annoying but it's not, my husband actually says he likes to hear it. It's a sweet little whistle but you can still hear it at the other end of my typically cramped old San Francisco apartment.

Being British, this kettle knows all there is to know about boiling water for tea and it has the typical British discretion to know enough NOT to have an annoying whistle.

I had grown disenchanted with my Michael Graves museum replica 80's style stainless steel kettle. Let's face it - it's dated, plus it, like me, it was beginning to definitely show its age. Sigh...momento mori. But we tea drinking chowhounds never say die, and so it was out with the old kettle and in with the new.

A weeks long computer search convinced me that the kettle of my dreams was going to be the Simplex brand large sized copper kettle (they've been making them for 200 years) which I bought at the best price I could find, which was $75.00 (shipping and handling was free!) from alwaysbrilliant.com. Does that sound like a lot? Hmm...maybe you're right. But I still love it!

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  1. niki rothman, I inherited my mother's c1940 nice big copper kettle and treasure it. Not only is it a joy in the kitchen but I remember it from my childhood so it makes me smile while the water is boiling. I'm pleased to know that it can be replaced if and when it ever becomes necessary.

    1. Wow! You are a champion shopper. That copper kettle is $119.95 at Sur La Table. Plus shipping and handling.
      I've had the Simplex for God knows how many years. Thirty? Bought it after I ruined How Many? Walked off and forgot them and they boiled dry, the solder joints on the spouts melted off, etc. No way you can ignore that insistent whistle on the Simplex!
      It's such an old friend now that I hear the sound of the water when it's just about to boil and I'm up and across the kitchen just as it's ready for me.
      It's been worth every copper cent for that copper kettle. It will outlast me.

      1 Reply
      1. re: MakingSense

        Wow! I didn't know the Simplex copper kettle was even IN the Sur La Table catalog. I've been in their store at the SF Ferry Building and was convinced the prices were too high. Thanks for making me feel that in addition to hearing the Simplex IS indeed the Rolls Royce of kettles (as a Sur La Table imprimatur would suggest), I also got a bargain.

        Maybe one key to successful online shopping is experience Googling - which is something I enjoy doing for all sorts of reasons. I always check Amazon prices first but often the bargains are elsewhere and found via Google search for key words. One idea of my husband's for safer online shopping is to reserve one credit card ONLY for online shopping and I sort of vet the sites for signs that they have customer service that is easily accessible, a good return policy, a sophisticated website design - so far no problems.

      2. I've had mine for ages and love it - tarnished though it is ....

        1 Reply
        1. re: MMRuth

          I've just realized that I lied - I don't have a Simplex, I have a Windsor copper kettle. Still happy w/it though!

        2. I love love love my electric kettle. I'm a tea drinker so I use it several times a day for tea + making coffee for DH + assorted other needs.

          However, your love letter to your Simplex is causing me to consider infidelity for the first time...One question, though: My electric kettle boils water incredibly quickly & I have always found stove top kettles annoyingly slow. Is the Simplex speedy?????

          Please don't say that it is...LOL

          11 Replies
          1. re: fauchon

            I am totally willing to do a road test for you. How many ounces should I put into the Simplex? Then I'll time it to the minute and write back to you.

            1. re: niki rothman

              I love this! How about 16 oz? (2 cups)....

              1. re: fauchon

                Worth checking if you both have electric or gas burners! Good luck with the experiment.

                1. re: fauchon

                  You got it, fauchon. 16 ounces it is. And a tip o' the hat to MMRuth - I have a nasty old gas stove that does not have a very high "high" setting. But we shall see. It's 2:00 p.m. SF time and the game is afoot!

                  OK - 2 1/2 minutes! That was fun. But is it fast enough?

                  P.S.
                  I just remembered there is a more expensive model of the Simplex called, appropriately, the "Quick Boil" kettle - it has vents on an additional bottom copper layer which my kettle does not have and these vents, I'm assuming, hasten the heating of the kettle. It's on sale at alwaysbrilliant.com, where I bought mine, for $91.95. The ad says they have 9 left. Since mine was around $74, I wonder just how much faster this quick boil kettle could be? Or, how fast is too fast? As long as you have enough time to get out your cup and tea bag, I suppose! Heh heh..

                  1. re: niki rothman

                    Your Simplex is elegant, sexy, classic. My Russell Hobbs electric kettle is ditto. But it's Barbaro compared to an oat burner in a back country claiming race...my 2 cups took 1 minute and 21 seconds. I began with cold (but not icy) water from the faucet. And, of course, we didn't take altitude into account...altho I don't know if the fifteenth floor in Manhattan makes THAT much diff....

                    I'm a tea slut and "discovered" the beauty & power of elec kettles some years ago when we were living in London & have not been without one since.

                    1. re: fauchon

                      So the Simplex standard model took one minute longer. Maybe you SHOULD get the "high speed" if that minute actually makes a difference. I guess THAT must be the "New York" minute I've heard about...

                      I was born in Manhattan and I miss the food, and the museums and the characters. But when I visited SF as a teenager and discovered all of California is not tropical as I think most Americans assume (SF is in the 60's & 70's year 'round) that was it - I've been here ever since.

                      But back to the subject at hand: obviously at sea level, and tap water "cold" was used for the experiment. I depend on a very nice stainless steel electric kettle that goes with us to the hotel whenever we go on vacation, but the aesthetics are very important to me and as I stated in the o.p. I'm in love with my copper kettle, you'd have to pry it out of my cold, dead hands at this point...

                      P.S.
                      But, I think we've also stumbled onto something potentially big here. Along with local chowdowns, and the book club they've got going on the home cooking board, road tests could be a useful way to actualize what we're doing here. How about looking for more opportunities for real life chowhound kitchen road tests?

                      1. re: niki rothman

                        Well, we did have that "is your soaking rice talking to you thread". ;-)

                        1. re: MMRuth

                          Duh...somehow I missed the soaking rice experiments. Do tell the story, please...

                        2. re: niki rothman

                          I think you've nailed it: the notorious New York minute!

                          I suspect I love my Russell Hobbs as much as you love your Simplex...including for aesthetic reasons...Is your travelling ss elec kettle not so attractive?

                          I will certainly keep an eye out for additional road test experiments...esp since this one was so much fun! Thanks for being my partner in time!

                          1. re: fauchon

                            I'll have to search out the Russell Hobbs online to see what it looks like. Actually, my electric kettle is really cute! It was another case of a long-winded search that took place over a long weekend at Asilomar, the California State owned landmark resort in Monterey. We have considered it a second home for many years, going about every 2 months. One day I realized I really should be making my own tea and we searched out every store within 20 miles. The Hamilton Beach is Art Deco in style - almost cone shaped with a black plastic round cap and knob on top and a large semi-circular double handle that is also heavy matte black plastic. It's very sleek unlike so much of the bad design that's out there in small appliances. BUT, once again for home use there's something about that Simplex...I love it!

                            P.S.
                            I'm a longtime fan of QE 2 and I understand she keeps and operates her own, personal, electric kettle next to her chair for tea - at all times. Very likely it's a Russell Hobbs, no?

                            P.P.S.
                            And you're very welcome, fauchon. Please feel free to ask me to time anything you want. Anything food related, that is...

              2. Oh, now you're making me want to go out and buy a copper kettle too! I also have a Michael Graves one (for the past almost-4yrs), and it's been faithfully there for all my cups of green tea, instant coffee fixes, hot cocoa and quick soups. But perhaps it's time to retire it and move on to something different?
                Thanks for your sweet tea kettle story.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Augusta

                  One last love note to Simplex - that copper kettle has something magic about it. I had the MG too. Funny coincidence. But THAT copper kettle, and it's big too, lights up my whole kichen in a way that is the perfect combo of sexy and homey - just like me!

                  1. re: Augusta

                    Augusta, that would be wasteful. The Simplex will be around when the MG dies. It's been around forever.
                    When I was younger, I bought the latest thing, the new design, and gradually I realized that the classics were classics for a reason. I did what niki does, searched for the best prices, bought them one by one and outfitted my home and kitchen with fine things, some new, some vintage, some antiques. You can have real linen, crystal and silver, copper and stainless, terrific kitchen equipment of better quality than is currently manufactured by shopping estate sales and eBay and just watching for the right sales if you know what you want.
                    Don't settle for junk. These things are your tools and you live with them day in day out for years. You deserve the best. You can have it by shopping carefully. Often for far less than you think.

                  2. I have a beautiful Castle Copper kettle imported from Ireland. Before the founder of Calphalon they used to import the Castle line. I had to have it, had to! It now is languishing in my laundry room downstairs. We received an electric kettle as a wedding gift 30+ years ago. After a fire it was not replaced, we drank more coffee than tea anyway.

                    This past fall we were back in London and out flat had a electric kettle and man was that fast. It is one of my first purchases when we came home. It is a Bodum, it is oval in shape so it fits snugly against the counter and does not take up room. I have 1 quart of water boiling in 5 mins. tops. It also has an automatic shut off so it cannot boil itself dry.

                    I feel bad about my gorgeous Castle Copper kettle languishing away, I cannot bring myself to donate it, it needs polishing badly and it was quite $$$. I also have a Castle Copper 5 qt. dutch oven. I had visions of stews and braises while it sat gleaming in my kitchen. The copper begins to dull the minute it hits the heat so it is more decorative than used. My 5 qt. LC gets most of the use, oh, and I keep forgetting I have a Castle Copper gratin at the back of a cupboard. I need to clean all of these up and use them now and then. But there is no way I'll give up my electric kettle.

                    13 Replies
                    1. re: Candy

                      Maybe you're a very busy person but I bought some copper polish and was surprised at how quickly it made the copper beautiful. Copper adds something ineffably lovely and warm to your kitchen. It's Met-All brand brass & copper cream polish and I got it at that alwaysbrilliant.com where I got my sweet kettle.

                      1. re: niki rothman

                        You've inspired me to go check out the Simplex and Russell Hobbs. I am on my second Oxo tea kettle in three years because the colorful porcelain exterior (orange -- I thought it would be cheerful) has chipped at the bottom edge TWICE. This is probably because I move it off the cooktop when I am making dinner and place it on a hard granite countertop. I really do try to be gentle, but it is no match for the hard surface. In as much as this is a really cool, modern-looking kettle (the handle lifts up and it opens the pouring spout), at these prices I am not going to get another one. Hmm -- maybe time to try electric or a good copper.

                        Is there a best Russell Hobbs? I only make tea for one or two, usually.

                        1. re: RGC1982

                          Funny, after all the excitement, I googled Russell Hobbs and could find pictures of them but none for sale. Even at amazon. Go figure...But the one I saw that I liked was art deco looking - very attractive and looked very much like my ss/black Hamilton Beach, which is a great alternative, only about $35 and used to be available at Target.com. If you find the Russell Hobbs for sale anywhere online, please let me know as I'd like to check it out for future reference.
                          Thanks!

                          1. re: niki rothman

                            It took a week for the Russell Hobbs US rep to answer my two voice messages. He said that RH was no longer being made, and suggested I buy a Chefs Choice, which share many of the same components as the Russell Hobbs. I ordered on for $69 -- it is a taller model rather than a traditional looking kettle. I'll let you know how I like it when I get it.

                            1. re: RGC1982

                              Do you have a link to the Chefs Choice?

                              1. re: fauchon

                                Go to the www.russell-hobbs.com website. It is on there under the kettles link at the top.

                                1. re: fauchon

                                  Hi folks,
                                  Just back online after the weekend. I looked at the target.com site and they have the electric kettles for a lower price. The best looking are the Chef's Choice and my Hamilton Beach, which sells for $39. But there's a good selection and the prices cannot be beat as far as I can see.

                              2. re: niki rothman

                                I would recommend a look at Breville products (http://www.brevilleusa.com/). We have a SK85XLNova (which I think is unavailable now). It functions beautifully and there are numerous small things that it gets right (like a built in loop on the plug to make it easier to remove from the outlet).

                            2. re: niki rothman

                              What's so wrong with a patina? Im not saying you shouldn't keep it clean, but personally I find the look of well used and not overly maintained copper ware to be rather beautiful.

                              1. re: KaimukiMan

                                Not a thing wrong with a nice even patina, but for an all-day tea drinker like me, the pot had developed a splochy, sloppy pattern of water and tea stains that was not at all the nice even, mellow patina that you so rightly honor.

                                1. re: niki rothman

                                  I bought my Russell Hobbs at Zabar's about 8 or so years ago. I am an all-day tea drinker, too, and it gets constant use throughout the day and seems...so far...not to have degraded at all.

                                  According to the info on the bottom of my RH it's 1500 w & was made in China.

                                  I tried to buy another one about 5 years ago but couldn't. I was told at several housewares stores that RH was not being imported any more (someone even said it wasn't being manufactured). I have no idea how reliable this info is.

                                  The closest elec kettle I can find is this one from UptonTea...It looks very similar to the RH...an ss cylinder...(mine has brown plastic on the bottom and the design & color (brown in my kitchen & on my monitor) plastic bottom looks suspiciously identical). The placement of the switch also appears to be identical. I wonder if this is the same kettle as the RH but sold under a different label....IIRC, I paid considerably more (but less than $100) for the RH.

                                  http://uptontea.com/shopcart/item.asp...

                                  BTW, it occured to me after our posts the other day that the reason a stove top kettle seems "slow" is that I'm so accustomed to the speed of the RH....When I'm visiting friends, I feel as if I'm waiting "forever" for my water to boil! Came as a surprise when we did our timing test to learn that we're really only talking about a minute or so)....

                                  1. re: fauchon

                                    Hi fauchon!

                                    Just got back onloine for the first time since our kettle boiling challenge. (dental work, jury duty...don't ask)

                                    I am, sadly, unable to make your link work but am going to check out that upton tea website and IIRC brand electric kettle. As I think I mentioned, I cannot find the Russell Hobbs for sale online, but I found a picture of it and it looks suspiciously like my own Hamilton Beach electric kettle which I bought exclusively for vacation use. I notice the black base has no brand name molded into it. Yet all the other info IS molded in. The HB name is on a plastic glued-on label. Looks like China is producing clones and wholesaling them to the importer companies. I paid about $34 for the HB and it's big. So, if you ever need a replacement you could check it out.

                              2. re: niki rothman

                                i have no fear of polishing, if you were to see the amount of silver I maintain you'd know that. I've always loved copper but my kettle would get to splotched and spattered it didn't have that lovely warm gleam and it was a constant chore to try to have it look the way I wanted it to.

                                I just took the challenge on boiling times. My little Bodum electric pot from BB&B which was all of $39.99 less the 20% coupon boiled the 2 C. of water in just under 2 minutes.

                            3. Okay, my new Chef's Choice arrived today. It was what the Russell Hobbs salesman said I should try. I have boiled water in what appears to be record time. What was your test? 16 oz. to a rolling boil? I could swear it did it in just over a minute. I'll have to time it. Oh boy, this is going to be fun to use!

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: RGC1982

                                You're right...16 oz cold but not icy water to a rolling boil...my RH did it in 1 min 21 secs...the RH is years & years old & used several times a day so I wonder if its performance has degraded in that time...it'll be interesting to see if your new CC beats the old & often used RH...please post results...

                                1. re: fauchon

                                  Revereware copper bottomed kettle, 16 ounces. 50 seconds on a gas stove, ambient temp 80 degrees, maybe 300 feet above sea level.

                                  1. re: fauchon

                                    I don't really have cold tap water down here in Texas -- can I start with the chilled fridge water from the door, or will that be too cold ? I'm giggling at the thought of a "test"!

                                    1. re: RGC1982

                                      We chowhounds who are "game" really do need to start doing more tests, challenges, experiments, bake-offs...whatever. More live action food competitions and general showing off. Got any ideas?
                                      YOU need to giggle more. I can tell.

                                2. I love my Russell Hobbs. A few years ago, I got one for my best friend. Her husband ruined the first one by lighting it on top of stove when he was drunk. (It's cordless, only the base part has a cord that is plugged in.) He replaced it with a Chef's Choice or something from Macy's. About a year later, when she was on the phone, her friend decided to heat more water up for tea -- you guessed it -- it happened again. So, she's on her 3rd one and I've had my same Russell Hobbs all these years, at least 15.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: walker

                                    I would have hid the kettles after that happened.

                                    1. re: RGC1982

                                      Too inconvenient to hide them; I had a BIG laugh each time it happened. She was indignant, exasperated, each time it happened. When I gave it to her, I told her I'd picked out the perfect gift, something she needed and didn't even know she needed it. She's Irish and makes tea everyday.

                                      1. re: walker

                                        Hilarious. If drunks and stoves didn't sound almost as hazardous as drunks and car keys...

                                  2. All of this kettle talk is making my head spin and excited with the possibilities.

                                    I need to get a new kettle because I have gone back to making my coffee with a Chemex and now use a kettle daily.

                                    My kettle is fine accept when I pour the handle and spout ratio are too close that I almost burned my hand a few times I do not like using a glove when pouring.

                                    The other issue is I have hard water so is it better to use copper, stainless steel or cast iron?

                                    1. Just wanted to update this 2-year old thread. Bought my Simplex kettle from JL Hufford, for 84.50 (using a 5% off coupon I googled) and free shipping. They had a $65 offer on Open Box Simplexes but they were sold out before I could get to them :( -- bummer, but I'm still happy paying $84.50 instead of $120+ elsewhere!!

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: stefoodie

                                        How fast does it boil?!

                                        I need to test mine :)