A few months ago we published a short post admiring our friend Brian Schiele’s Monarch Methods Kettle. Someone must have read the article, because my coworkers at Quills Coffee surprised me with one as a graduation present. I was taught to never look a gift horse in the mouth, but considering how fortunate I feel to get my hands on one of these Canadian-imports, I couldn’t help but share my thoughts about the Monarch Methods Kettle 500ml.
The first thing one notices about the Monarch Methods kettle is the striking design. The all copper kettle is well complemented by the leather sleeve. It’s a beautiful, handmade piece of equipment that proves that craftsmanship is alive and well in the twenty-first century. Monarch’s founder Chris Chekan says
Monarch Methods sets out to make brewing equipment that is as beautiful, hands on and high quality as coffee is itself.
Just like a pair of raw denim jeans breaks in over time, the once shiny-kettle has already begun to oxidize, giving it a rugged, vintage look. Katsu Tanaka of Tokyo’s Bear Pond Espresso once said that coffee people must be sexy, and this kettle has it going on in spades.
The best feature of the Monarch Methods kettle is certainly its ergonomic, handless design. I’ve used almost every gooseneck kettle on the market, and this one has the most effortless control. At the risk of sounding cliché, this kettle feels like an extension of the user’s hand. By comparison my Bonavita Variable Temperature Kettle I use at home or the Hario Buono Kettle I use at work feel clumsy. If you have a brewing technique that requires either a very slow pour or a highly controlled pour, this is a great kettle for you.
If there is one thing I don’t understand about the Monarch Methods kettle, it’s the material. Copper has long been used for its conductive properties- only silver is a better conductor of heat. (Our favorite Turkish coffee pot uses both metals!) But with a hot water kettle, temperature stability, not conductivity, is desirable. Certainly the leather sleeve provides some level of insulation, but brewing with a thermometer revealed a more rapid temperature decline than most kettles. Coupled with the plethora of potential health problems that come with exposed copper, I would love to see Monarch Methods come out with a kettle that is a different material.
The small opening looks very handsome, but has two unfortunate side effects. First, it does not work well with all hot water towers. The opening is smaller than some spouts, which makes filling the kettle difficult- especially considering there is no handle. If you’re a barista who plans on using the kettle on bar you might want to make sure it works with your hot water tower. For home use, the kettle seems best suited to pair with a tea kettle with a narrow spout, as Monarch Methods does not recommend heating the kettle. Second, it can be difficult to dry the interior when the kettle is not in use. Most of the water, of course, can be poured out the spout, but with so little airflow it’s difficult for any residual moisture to evaporate.
If your main priorities in a kettle are pouring control and design, then you’ll be hard pressed to find a better option than the Monarch Methods 500ml kettle. The limitations concerning temperature stability, the inability to apply direct heat to the kettle, and the safety concerns of exposed copper mean that few cafés are likely to make it their default kettle. We expect, however, that this kettle will soon be a highly prized possession of baristas and home brewers alike.