It’s a strange thing that one of the most enjoyable physical interfaces I use in my day-to-day life is on a kettle. The Stagg EKG Electric Kettle, specifically, a $150 appliance that’s almost entirely controlled through a single, magnificent dial that is a strong contender for the best way to turn on a kettle (a competition that, admittedly, lacks much competition).
Using the Stagg is a delightful experience of tactility. The main control is a single dial/button located on the front right of the base. Turning it on takes just a single press, a deep, solid click that lets you know through touch and sound that you’ve turned on the kettle. Turning it off is a similar single press, another resonant click to announce that the kettle is off.
Lastly, there’s adjusting the target temperature, done through an incredibly satisfying rotation of the dial, with each step on the infinitely rotatable ratcheted wheel giving a physical indication that you’re adjusting it forward and back. You can watch the temperature tick up or down on a small display opposite the dial.
And it’s here that the Stagg shines: adjusting the temperature is intuitive and, more importantly, fast and easy. On my old kettle, temperature had to be adjusted by manually clicking plus/minus buttons each time, with a complex system of programmable presets (meant to alleviate the awkward controls) that, after years, I still never really grokked. The Stagg, on the other hand, is as simple as adjusting the volume on an iPod or the flame on a stove burner — just spin and win.
Once you’ve dialed in your temperature, that’s it. The Stagg will heat your water to the desired degree (in either Fahrenheit or Celsius), and then you’re ready to enjoy it for tea, coffee, or any other hot beverage of your choice.
The Stagg also builds an extra feature hidden into its dial. Pressing and holding it down will activate a built-in stopwatch, perfect for timing your steeping tea or brewing coffee without requiring any other gadgets or gizmos.
The best proof of how capable the Stagg kettle’s dial is, however, comes in the rather unique easter egg that Fellow includes on every electric kettle: a functional version of Snake known as Wormy, which can be activated by rapidly toggling the Fahrenheit / Celsius switch located on the rear of the device back and forth.
Of course, it’s hard to talk about the Stagg without mentioning the elephant in the room: it’s a $150 gadget that boils water. It is very much a luxury product. There are cheaper kettles out there that will do the same thing (that is to say, boil water to a specific temperature) as fast and efficiently, if not faster, than the Stagg. You can buy a stovetop kettle for $20.
You’re paying a premium here for the design, and Stagg’s main control scheme — the single, otherwise nondescript dial — is a big part of that. It’s what allows for the core function of the Stagg to be as elegant as its Instagram-fodder form: simple, easy to use, and stylish.
Is it worth $150 for the button alone? Not for a kettle. But it is certainly the caliber of button that you’d want from a kettle that costs that much, a piece of UX that elevates the entire product.
And most important of all, it makes a morning cup of tea just a little more enjoyable.