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Best Instant Hot Water Dispenser for a Perfect Cuppa (2021)
Ah… there’s nothing quite so necessary as coffee in the morning–except perhaps afternoon tea. But, if you’re using the same old scaly kettle to heat both cups, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Instead, spring for a modern, multi-functional instant hot water dispenser. Such units are far better equipped to serve the perfect refreshment, without costing you dearly in the monthly power bill.
Today, we review the best kettle-killers you’ll find on the market.
The perfect cuppa awaits, so read on.
Table of Contents
Best Instant Hot Water Dispenser (Any Purpose)
Whether you’re serving yourself during a quiet night at home or an entire party of people, you’ve got to make sure your kettle is equal to the task. It’s not enough just to make water hot either; your dispenser must offer the proper temperature (85° for tea, 95° for coffee, 100° for pasta) as often or as sparingly as needed–and efficiently at that.
Below, we review the best hot water dispensers (one cup kettles) that offer fast, energy-efficient functionality to a variety of use-cases:
Breville enjoys the distinction of making possibly the most popular hot water dispenser on the market, and it’s not hard to see why with the HotCup. To wit, despite mass production, it is currently sold out on Amazon (editor’s note: not anymore, but rush to get yours), and tends to get that way quickly after restocks. Take that as a testament to how many people are looking for precisely what the HotCup brand has on offer.
And what is that, precisely?
Boiling water in less than a minute, without any fussing with confusing settings. Seriously, you add water to the tank (which sports an easy-carry handle for ergonomic transport to the faucet), set it down into the unit, then press the “on” button. In around 50 seconds, you’ll get honest-to-goodness boiling water in exactly the portion you need for an afternoon cuppa at the office or at home.
Breville is equally respectful of your energy bill as it is your time, and boils only the water you need for the task at hand, and not a mL more. It offers a generous capacity of 1.5L, which is good for about 7 cups. What’s more, the guesswork of filling up is removed entirely with a large water window, which glows blue during a boil. Cleanup is made easy with a removable drip tray, stainless steel base construction, and permanent lime scale filter.
All in all, you’ll be hard-pressed to find better value for money than the Breville HotCup–if you can find it back in stock, that is.
Breville makes a triumphant return to our list with its Brita HotCup, which despite the family name, packs a few notable upgrades over its budget-conscious cousin.
The first is right on the product label. Every mL boiled runs through a Brita Maxtra filter (cartridge included in box), which not only protects the unit from limescale build-up but removes chlorine and metals to improve the flavour and odour of your water.
Secondly, the Brita HotCup guarantees a true boil of 100° C–a feat for which many other units tend to make only vague promises. Once again, Breville offers superior energy efficiency by boiling only what is poured into your cup.
This time, however, you have a manual stop switch to assert full control over the quantity of water dispensed–leave just the right amount for cream and sugar, every time. Or, if you’d rather let the machine handle it, you can dial in your cup size from 9 settings, and the Brita HotCup will fill only the specified amount and not a drop more.
Need more? How about an upgrade to a 1.8L tank, all-steel construction, concealed heating element for safety, removable drip tray, and Breville’s ever-attractive blue-lit water window? The price point is certainly higher than the first entry on this list, but if you like to spoil yourself as a consumer, you’ll find it a bargain.
Okay, okay, we hear you thinking “another product from Breville?” Suffice it to say, you’ll find this is one company who have taken great pains to corner several niches on the hot water dispenser market. Think of this as a sort-of medium tier between our first two product listings. It’s got 1.7L capacity, 3000w of true-boiling power, plus delivery of the good stuff in under a minute. Sounds standard fare at this point, right?
On paper, yes. However, there are a few extras the standard HotCup doesn’t have. First, just look at the thing. In the midst of most modern homes and offices, the VKT124 strikes a pose whilst blending in with its understated design.
Its sleek black design weighs in at just 1.65kg, so it won’t break your back to move from place to place. Non-slip rubber feet keep the unit securely in place, however, so no need to worry about fiddliness introducing burn risks.
We also really like the adjustable height of the drip tray, so you can accommodate multiple sizes of receptacles. There’s no fancy filters or automatic measuring, but you have full control to start and stop its standard dispensing amount, which is just enough to fill a cup.
If you love this unit, but need a little bit more horsepower, consider the VKT111. It features 2L capacity, a cup size selector for dispensing variable amounts, and an impossibly chic brushed steel finish.
Finally moving into unfamiliar territory for this list, we come to VonShef’s Catering Urn, which differs not just in manufacturer but intended use-case altogether. While you could run this unit in your home, it’s rather more than the average family will use. Instead, VonShef aims this product towards heavily trafficked venues outside the home, such as hotels, restaurants, cafes, offices, and more.
It’s not hard to see why, either. Its imposing yet unassuming stature houses a cavernous 8L tank. The controls are nothing if not Spartan, but they belt advanced functionality. It takes about 15-20 minutes for the modest 1500w heating element to bring its full capacity to a boil, but once there, the Catering Urn politely sips power to keep your water piping hot for instant repeated delivery.
This is all controlled automatically, with a simple on/off switch and dual lights indicating the “heating” or “keep warm” operational phases. Worried about that nozzle leaking, or the handle burning you after hours of warming? Don’t – VonShef has engineered this part to be water-tight and well-insulated.
Compared to other units on this list, it’s a heavyweight at 4.1kg. However, this is hardly a dispenser designed to be taken on the go, but rather to act as a stationary gathering point for refreshments.
Nevertheless, when you need to move it, there’s a sturdy handle built right in. If the obviously solid construction doesn’t give you confidence in the VonShef as a true workhorse, consider the 2-year manufacturer warranty.
If the previous hot water dispenser was Goliath, here we come upon David in the form of the CUP01 from VYTRONIX.
When your goal is to serve no one but yourself the perfect cuppa, this affordable unit calls out for your consideration. It’s a simple design really, boiling the entirety of its 300mL capacity in 30 seconds or less with its robust 3000w heating element. In other words, one cup goes in cold, one cup comes ready to greet your afternoon tea with piping hot water.
Let’s take a moment to put something into perspective: the average household wastes about £68 per year in energy continually boiling and reboiling overfilled kettles. Why should you stand for it when all you want’s a cup to yourself at home? VYTRONIX agrees this state of affairs is absurd, and provides the perfect energy-efficient answer with the CUP01.
But, how can such a diminutive piece offer such power without risk? There’s a built-in boil-dry safety cut off, plus it automatically shuts off after a period without use. The heating element is completely concealed, plus rubber non-slip feet to prevent the CUP01’s mere 1.15kg from knocking about with normal handling. Save space, energy, and time with VYTRONIX.
Want something that stays hot all day without costing you dearly in energy or counter space? Then the aptly named brand Perma Therm demands a second look. Yes, it makes a rather utilitarian first impression, with its basic LCD, chunky buttons, and wide plastic handle which makes no attempt to hide within the design. But you’ll find that hidden underneath is a thing of beauty: a 3.5L tank which has been aggressively insulated.
Once the tank’s been heated up, Perma Therm pretty much stays that way with only the barest minimum energy input required for maintenance. Seriously, bring the thing up to a boil, unplug it, then set a stopwatch. You’ll get bored before it gets cold (especially with how it looks).
This system is ideal for frequent coffee drinkers or households with several endlessly thirsty family members. Were you to run a standard 2500w kettle 5 times per day from cold to boil, you could compare the Perma Therm’s all-day performance at a 68% reduction in energy usage. It’s just that good.
This gorgeous insulation works both ways, allowing the Perma Therm to stay cool to the touch as well. Other smart safety features include boil-dry protection, plus the unit will shut down automatically after 3 days on standby. We love the utility too, with 5 temperature settings between 40-98°, self-cleaning functions, plus triple dispensing modes: Auto, Cup, and Manual. The old adage goes that it’s what’s inside that counts, and that is very much the case with Perma Therm.
VonShef is back, bringing another Spartan contraption that simply does the job without a semblance of fuss.
Under the hood of the VonShef Instant Kettle we find a 2.5L tank and a 2600w heating element; together they begin delivering 95° water in just 5-8 seconds. And that’s almost all there is to say–which is a good thing.
Looking for buttons, dials, and fancy displays? Won’t find them here–just a single big, beautiful button on top which responds to a good press as Pavlov’s dogs to a bell. When you’ve got the amount of water you want, simply shut it off. The VonShef heats the water as its used, and thus doesn’t waste energy boiling the whole tank. Instant on, instant off, full control, no waste.
It’s of medium weight at 2.72kg, features a removable drip tray, and boasts BPA-free plastic construction. What’s more, simplicity of design yields a certain durability that you can truly rely on. And if something does go awry, VonShef offers a 2-year warranty on this hot water dispenser.
Our last entry is easily the most expensive. But, Morphy Richards’ 131004 Redefine has got bells and whistles to make the others seethe.
Let’s start with the basics: temperature control (85, 95, 100°), plus variable water volume output from 300mL to a whopping 1.5L (that’s half the Redefine’s cavernous 3L capacity at once). Between these two parameters, you can gently warm up a dainty cup of herbal tea leaves, or you can hit the afterburners to insta-boil a pot of pasta. Like many others on this list, the Redefine only boils the water you need, saving energy.
But that’s where the similarities end. Embedded into the volume control is a handy automatic mode, which you can set to conveniently dispense between 3-600mL at a time (larger volumes are always manually dispensed).
Whichever mode you use, you can always pause or stop the dispensing mid-stream for full control. There are dual streams, so you can actually fill two cups simultaneously. (We use these two functions to fill multiple cups in rapid succession: fill 2, pause, fill 2, pause, etc. Everyone gets served hot without having to wait!)
What else makes this unit special? Its Brita filtration system, which uses the common MAXTRA filter cartridges. It also sports a handy indicator to help remind you when it’s time for a filter change. If that’s not enough, consider the drip tray indicator, which tells you it’s time to empty the tray to reduce messes before they happen. There’s even a notification that pops up on the LCD when it’s time to descale.
Yes, it’ll cost you well over £100. But the Redefine handily earns its keep, with myriad dispensing parameters and smart reminders for optimal, waste-free operation.
The search for the right instant hot water dispenser for your home
Now that you’ve seen our recommendations, you’ve got a good idea of what’s out there. But be advised: the market is absolutely saturated with sub-par products, models and makers. If you’re looking to continue your comparison shopping beyond the instant hot water dispensers on this page, keep the following tips in mind:
Boiled vs. hot water
Many product listings play fast and loose with their language in an effort to obscure what it can and can’t do. Very often, a search for “instant boilers” will lead you to dispensers that do not yield 100° water. While this may not be a dealbreaker, just keep in mind that there is an appreciable difference between boiling and almost-boiling in many applications. (Pasta comes to mind!)
Always-on vs. one cup kettle vs. traditional electric kettles
It may seem we’ve made some contradictory claims on this page about which type of dispenser is most energy efficient. In fact, it completely depends on the application. If you’re going to be drinking many cups a day or you have a crowded household, you want something that boils a large amount of water in a well-insulated tank. When it dispenses water, it will be brought up to temperature using only the barest energy input, since the water was already quite hot. On the other hand, if you’re an occasional drinker, you may prefer a dispenser that heats only the water it uses. Easy, right?
Be careful though! Mixing the two roles up will lead to higher energy bills and lower satisfaction. Imagine running a pot all day, only to use it once. No matter how politely it sips power to maintain that temperature, it still doesn’t serve you. Plus, getting up to the initial boiling point for all that reserve water is a hefty energy draw. As a corollary, per-cup dispensers may have a smaller initial draw than the always-on unit, but it will add up to a greater total amount if multiple people are using the device over time.
At any rate, you should generally avoid traditional kettles which fully boil a litre or two of water each and every time you operate it. You’re just throwing money and time away in this use-case.
Hot water dispenser safety features
Instant hot water dispensers seem innocuous enough, but they have the intrinsic capacity to do major damage–be it to your hand, your home, your property, or even themselves. While the electronics are rarely complicated on these devices, the heating element must literally bring water to a boil, and gets dangerously hot.
That’s why it’s vital to select products with concealed heating elements. These are much less likely to make contact with your skin or flammable materials. What’s more, look for onboard boil-dry protection, which shuts the unit off whenever there’s no water left to boil. (If you have trouble understanding this, consider that water is a powerful heat sink. This means it soaks up all that heat produced by the heating element. Without the water, there’s nothing to stop the heating element from going full power and overheating.)
Don’t neglect automatic shutoffs either, especially in always-on units. You don’t want your device waiting standby when you’re going out of town for travel, for example.
Other commonly overlooked/poorly understood safety features of hot water dispensers include:
- Hydroelectric separation, in which electrical components are kept completely isolated from water-handling components–often with an element of redundancy for safety.
- Sturdy construction and easy handling. After all, a unit whose structure responds poorly to daily use is far more likely to lead to painful spills and burns.
- Rubber feet. No, they’re not just there to protect your countertops! You want your dispenser to grip the surface it sits on so as to prevent sloshing or tipping over.
Most people neglect keeping their hot water dispensers up to snuff–this is a mistake. Here’s an easy checklist to keep your unit working safely and efficiently:
- Clean the spout from time to time. Warm water mixed with dish soap or vinegar usually does the trick.
- Empty the drip tray often. Drip trays which see heavy use can fill up quickly, accruing unpleasant sludge in the process. It’s not just disgusting, but you’ll find that the extra liquid can lead to painful or embarrassing slips and spills. It’s an easy problem to avoid.
- Flush scale, bacteria and mold from the insides of your device. Once again, simple white vinegar is a miracle solution. Simply mix it with some water, and fill it in your reservoir. Run a full boil, and repeat as necessary to empty the tank. For good measure, repeat the process to ensure a thorough cleansing. Finally, run one final tank of pure water through to remove taste. You’ll want to do this every 3-6 months, as mineral build up can impede basic function. Plus, you don’t want to drink organic buildup, which can harm your health!
Conclusion For a One Cup Kettle
At this point, you should have a good idea what kind of instant hot water solution will work best for you.
If you’ve got a busy household or office, your best option is to go for a large-capacity always-on model. Otherwise, one of the smaller units that heats water per cup will do nicely.
We’ve also boiled down the criteria we used to conduct this market research as a basis for your own. Hopefully, this article has provided you with the means to choose from our list of the best hot water dispensers and to buy your new instant kettle with confidence!
Which of our recommended units most appeals to you? Do you have any prior experience with any of them? Any brand or makers that you consider the best? Leave us a comment below.