/ Home & Energy

Have kettles gone off the boil?

Kettle floating in space

New research this week revealed that kettle sales are in decline, while coffee machines are becoming ever more popular. Are you ready to call time on your kettle?

Tea has long been Britain’s national drink, so you’d expect a kettle would always be an essential kitchen item.

But that may no longer be the case. The latest figures by Mintel show that demand for kettles has dropped by more than 7% in the last five years, and more than one in five UK homes now don’t own a kettle.

One reason that’s been put forward for this is the increasing popularity of coffee – and coffee machines in particular. A good 22% of British households now own a coffee machine, and sales have gone up by nearly a third since 2008.

Can you really do without a kettle?

Personally I can’t imagine joining those kettle-free households, and I struggle to see how they do without one. Most of the meals I make at home involve rice, noodles or pasta, so even though I don’t drink tea, my kettle gets plenty of usage.

It’s not like kettles are an unaffordable luxury. At Which? we’ve found Best Buy kettles for around the £20 mark, and there are serviceable models for less than that.

So I’m puzzled by the decline in kettle ownership – they’re so versatile and useful that I don’t think a coffee machine is an adequate substitute. But maybe there’s something I’m missing. Hot water dispensers and microwaves have also been credited with declining the demand for kettles, but I still wouldn’t live without mine.

Have you found yourself using your kettle less? Has it been superseded by a coffee machine?

Could you live without your kettle?

No (76%, 758 Votes)

Yes (19%, 186 Votes)

I don't know (5%, 52 Votes)

Total Voters: 1,006

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Phil says:
18 January 2013

Couldn’t survive without my kettle, I’ve just sat down with a cup of tea having been outside to re-fill the bird feeders and recover the bins from the snow covered pavement. That said I’ve had the current kettle, a Kenwood, for over 20 years and have a spare ready when it does finally expire so I’m guilty of not buying kettles.


The introduction of water level gauges has resulted in more kettles failing due to leakage, so I am surprised that kettles sales are falling.

It never fails to amaze me that plastic-bodied kettles and fan-heaters are permitted, since putting a powerful electric heater in a plastic container is not very clever, and safety cut-outs can fail. I suppose it helps to keep the fire service busy.

Panda says:
18 January 2013

Lost without it as I use our kettle several times a day, including using it to heat water for washing-up our dinner equipment (glasses, plates, pots, etc.) as I hate running about 5lt cold water from the boiler before any hot water arrives. A very necessary item in our kitchen, would be very unhappy not to have one – in nearly 50 years we’ve had four kettles – good value!


Even if you don’t need a kettle for making tea or coffee, boiling water is useful for cleaning and keeping dishcloths/brushes fit for use. Many seem to have resorted to anti-bacterial products, but I will not be surprised if we are told that these are unnecessary and best avoided on grounds of safety. With some notable exceptions (e.g. antibiotics), what is bad for bacteria will not be good for humans or pets.

I will continue to use my electric kettle for the foreseeable future.

Pat M says:
18 January 2013

We have a boiling water tap which is amazing as we drink loads of tea and cook lots of pasta, rice and veg, all of which involved much boiling of the kettle. It’s a luxury though, I could never justify it on grounds of cost.
Most kettles are rubbish, I had just bought a good one (Bodum plastic, now no longer sold) before getting the Qooker. I usually check Amazon reviews for kettles and toasters, the kettle reviews are particularly depressing, as one after another are said to leak, come apart at the seams or continue boiling for several seconds, I had to look at tens of kettles before I found a satisfactory one.

barrie says:
18 January 2013

just had a new kitchen and my wiffe insisted on instant boiling water via a Quooker. They make noisy messy kettles redundant and save money because you only pay for the boiling water you poor!

I know I sound like an advert but it has made my wiffe so very happy and nearly as quiet as the Quooker…..honest


I’m told that gold-plated taps stay shiny and are not affected much by limescale. There are plenty of good solutions to problems if you are prepared to spend a lot.

I have never worried about the noise made by a kettle and the only time it has been messy was when one sprung a leak.

Phil says:
18 January 2013

The Qooker delivers boiling water but for a really good cup of tea (or coffee) the rule is don’t boil the water. It should be very hot but not boiling. OK if you’re one of the snobby “milk in first” brigade but then how do you get the strength right?