By February 1, 2011

Sad Day for Tea and Coffee Snobs: Upton Tea Imports Variable Temperature Kettle Out of Production

I was talking about the AeroPress coffee maker to one of my co-workers yesterday. He asked me how I got the water as close to 200° F without boiling the water. I told him about my Upton Tea variable temperature electric water kettle, and scurried off to send him a link.

I was aghast to discover that I couldn’t find it listed on Upton’s site any more. They still make a single-temperature kettle, but the old AK16 model was nowhere to be found.

I wrote their customer service department, and they replied a few hours later.

We sold the last of our AK16 lot several months ago and have no plans, at this time, to produce another lot. We do have a fixed temperature kettle, our AK15, if you’re interested in that.

One of the things I liked the most about the Upton tea kettle was its price. It has also been very durable and has near-boiled countless pots of water.

So, now that the best value in the variable temperature tea kettle market was gone, what’s the next best thing?

I did a comparison to Adagio’s UtiliTEA variable temperature kettle in August of 2009. The Adagio tea kettle is $10+ more than the Upton alternative, and had a few usability issues that I didn’t like.

However, the Adagio is well made and looks nice. I gave it the edge over the Upton for people who didn’t already own an electric kettle, but I preferred my trusty AK16.

The biggest problem with the Adagio UtiliTEA kettle is that it’s out of stock until at least mid-April. I don’t understand why they keep running out of stock; the reason I bought my Upton Imports kettle in the first place is that the Adagio offering was out of stock for nearly two years.

Since the UtiliTEA is out, what’s next?

The biggest problem with the variable temperature kettle market is that they are so damn expensive. Almost all of the other offerings are $90+ on, including the Cuisinart CPK-17 PerfecTemp. Originally almost $190, it’s on “sale” for $100.

There’s the Breville BKE820XL at a crisp $150. Capresso and Chef’s Choice have similar offerings in the “greater than Ben Franklin” range.

The T-Fal Vitesses is a little more mundane looking than the Cuisinart or Breville, but it’s only $40 on sale. I don’t know if that’s a permanent price drop or a temporary one. I don’t know if it’s a great kettle or not. But that’s about the closest thing you will price-wise to the Adagio or Upton until the UtiliTEA comes back into stock.

If you own any of these variable temperature kettles (or any other make and model) please let me know. I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts.

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