The Fellow Stagg EKG is the gold standard when it comes to pour over kettles. It is in our opinion about as close to perfection as a gooseneck kettle comes. It’s aesthetic design is flawless, its performance is superb, and its usability is intuitive and natural.
The Fellow Stagg EKG is really designed exclusively for the pour over and soft brew enthusiast. It is a kettle that seeks to find the balance between minimum complexity and maximum functionality.
We have now owned a Fellow Stagg EKG for around 6 months, and this is our in depth review of our experience with this electric gooseneck kettle.
Fellow Stagg EKG – The Overview
The Fellow Stagg EKG is an advanced electric gooseneck kettle that is designed primarily for pour over coffee brewing. As with many other Fellow products it is minimalist and smooth in look, has been carefully designed, and comes with a rather hefty price tag. Some of the key features of the Fellow Stagg EKG include variable temperature control, the ability to hold water at a given temperature for up to an hour, a LCD screen which can be used in various ways, and of course a well designed gooseneck spout for care and precision for pouring.
Fellow Stagg EKG: The In Depth Review
Often the first thing people notice about the EKG is that it is simply a beautiful gooseneck kettle. There is no getting around the fact that with its minimalistic design, smooth curves, and matte colours, it simply looks amazing. This is something that can be seen across the entire range of Fellow products but particularly shines in the EKG. Everything about this kettle screams elegance.
In fact, the Fellow Stagg EKG won the 2018 Red Dot Design award. And this is worth noting. It is a trend that has been growing in the specialty coffee industry that both form and function matter. That good specialty coffee equipment should both excel in its intended purpose and also be a pleasure to use. You only need to look up ‘coffee nook’ on Instagram to see that the aesthetic side of coffee brewing matters to a lot of people (including us).
We want coffee equipment that not only works well but that we are proud to own and showcase. And in this case the Fellow Stagg EKG is certainly a winner. Since sitting in our kitchen it has amazed me how many people have commented on it.
The next important consideration is functionality. What is it like to use? And in this we have been more than impressed with the Fellow Stagg EKG. The usability of this gooseneck kettle is so simple that it borders on genius.
Almost the entire range of features and functions of this kettle are controlled through the use of the knob on the front right of the gooseneck kettle. The kettle turns on through pushing the knob and then the desired water temperature is set through twisting the knob. Similarly, once you finish your brew this pour over kettle turns off with another push of the knob.
The knob works in conjunction with the small LCD screen located on the front left of the kettle. As you turn the kettle on, the Fellow logo comes up and is then replaced by a large number in the centre of the screen and a small number above it. The large number represents the actual temperature of the water, while the smaller number at the top represents the specified temperature to bring the water to. At any point during the heating process, you can twist the knob and it will adjust the intended temperature accordingly.
Similarly, once your water has reached the desired temperature and you are ready to brew, you can hold down the knob for 2s, and a 3 2 1 countdown will appear on the screen before a stopwatch begins so that you can time the various phases of your brew. The LCD screen can also be set to either celsius or fahrenheit through the use of a toggle on the back of the kettle.
Another fun feature which gives you the feel of this gooseneck kettle is that if you take the kettle off the stand and toggle the F/C toggle, then the old school game Wormy will appear on the LCD screen! So if you are ever bored during your drawdown period with the V60, you now have something to do.
The kettle itself is also well designed for a comfortable pour. This is important particularly for baristas who may be making multiple pour overs a day. The handle is counterbalanced and designed to allow easy and precise pouring using a single hand.
There is also a second toggle at the back of the pour over kettle allowing you to switch to hold mode. This mode holds the water at your desired temperature for 60 minutes which is exceptionally useful if you are multitasking or in a cafe setting.
The other thing that impressed us about the design and usability of this electric gooseneck kettle is the lid. Previous to using this we used the Kalita kettle and constantly felt like the lid was too loose. On the Fellow Stagg EKG, the lid is well designed so that it fits snugly without feeling you need to force it on. There are three small holes in the lid to release steam which should face the handle. If they face forward, water can pour out if you are trying to pour quickly. We learnt this the hard way.
But what most impressed me about the usability of this electric kettle is that it is simply a well thought out kettle. And our experience mirrors this intention. It really is a pleasure to turn it on and a pleasure to use. And we like that Fellow has clearly given attention to the small details like things as simple as how the lid fits on.
Our one frustration at times in terms of functionality is that it really can only pour slowly. This is deliberate for pour over and is a good thing, but can be frustrating when using the kettle for another brewing method like Aeropress which may require a quicker pour time. Similarly, we leave our Fellow Stagg EKG on the kitchetop and use it as our general kettle and so for us the slow pour can be frustrating. This could also be an issue for people who use the Chemex pour over.
With the price you pay for the Fellow Stagg EKG you would expect a high level of performance quality. I mean quite simply it costs more than some entry level espresso machines and it is a kettle!
So how does it perform? Well for me as a home brewer there are two aspects to this. The variable temperature control and the flow and consistency of the pour.
The reason we upgraded our gooseneck kettle was mainly frustration at a manual gooseneck kettle. Using this meant heating water in a separate jug and then transferring it to the gooseneck. Similarly, for a long time I brewed Aeropress at 78C , and so I would put the hot water into the gooseneck, add my little thermometer and either wait for the temperature to drop or add cold water. It was simply a painful rigmarole.
By contrast, using the Fellow Stagg EKG almost feels like cheating in comparison. You simply turn on the kettle, set your temperature, and within 1-3 minutes you are ready to brew. The PID controlled variable temperature function is super helpful if you do like playing around with brewing variables or switch between different brewing methods. So while I usually use the 100C water for V60 and Kalita Wave I tend to use lower temperatures for the Aeropress, and the Stagg makes this a breeze.
Perhaps the most important consideration in any gooseneck kettle is the gooseneck itself and how this affects the flow. The main reason anyone purchases a gooseneck kettle is because it allows slower and more precise pouring which is vital for good extraction in pour over coffee.
As mentioned, the shape and diameter of the spout restrict the water flow for a very slow pour. While there is a range of levels you can play with, the fastest is still slow enough to be frustrating for anything other than pour over. However, as a pour over kettle this is in many ways a strength as it does allow for a careful placement of water on the grinds bed for an even saturation. In comparison to our previous Kalita gooseneck kettle there was a marked difference in control of the pour.
This high overall level of performance is reflected in how often the Fellow Stagg EKG is now being used in Specialty coffee bars and cafes. In fact, this very last week I was at one of the best specialty coffee bars in our city and noted that they had one of these beauties which they used for all their soft brews.
Who is the Fellow Stagg EKG for?
So what sort of people should fork out the cash to buy this elegant and yet sophisticated gooseneck kettle? And the answer is the soft brew enthusiast with an eye for elegance. As mentioned repeatedly, this is explicitly a pour over kettle. So if pour over is not your thing or you only do it occasionally then this is definitely overkill for you. This is for the hard core V60 enthusiast who loves talking about the brew temperature, and slurry, and drawdown.
Similarly, this is for those who love elegance. Part of what you are paying for with the Fellow Stagg EKG is its aesthetic appeal. If you are just looking for variable temperature control and precision pouring then the Brewista Artisan kettle will do it for you at a significantly cheaper price. You are paying for the feeling of pride that the EKG will give you every time you see it in your kitchen.
So if that sounds like you, then we would strongly encourage you to buy the Fellow Stagg EKG. We have come to love this electric gooseneck kettle and enjoy using it every day. It isn’t cheap, but hopefully after reading this article at least you know what you are paying for.