Coffee Percolator Instructions for the Stovetop

How to Make Stovetop Percolator Coffee

Wake up Brew Drink Repeat

Brewing a pot of fragrant coffee every morning is a calming ritual, but switching things up every once in a while can be refreshing. You could try a different brewing method for your coffee because you're feeling adventurous. We have faith that you can pull off both of these tasks. You need only try using a percolator.

Listen to us, we mean it The conventional wisdom holds that brewing a pot of coffee in a stovetop coffee maker is a terrible idea. However, you shouldn't take this viewpoint seriously because people have wildly varying tastes and preferences. You could come to the conclusion that percolators are superior to the tried and true automatic drip coffee maker.

Furthermore, while the coffee brewing device that you choose has a significant impact on the quality of the coffee you drink, whether or not you're using the highest quality coffee beans possible is the single most important factor in determining the overall quality of your cup of joe. Just make sure you have some good coffee on hand before you write off stovetop coffee percolators altogether.  

The Definition of a Stovetop Percolator

You should understand what a percolator is and how it functions if you have even the slightest interest in this retro brewing technique.  

The term "percolation" refers to the process of forcing a solvent (here, steam) through a porous material (coffee grounds, for example). With this understanding, the percolator's moniker is entirely appropriate.  

Most stovetop percolators resemble taller, thinner kettles, but they do more than just heat water when placed over a flame. Inside is an efficient coffee brewer that uses steam to make coffee. Vacuum brewing produces an environment where steam saturates your ground coffee beans before filtering, as opposed to pour-over coffee, where clean water is filtered through a layer of ground coffee.  

There are other types of vacuum coffee makers besides the traditional percolator. Machines that use a siphon method to brew coffee are also called These brewers, which appear to have been taken from a chemistry lab, are ideal for those in search of a novelty beyond the standard coffee dripper.  

Moka pots function in a similar fashion, using high-pressure steam to brew coffee that has a flavor profile similar to that of an espresso shot. However, once the Moka pot is taken off the heat, the espresso-style coffee inside does not recirculate like it does in a percolator. All of the coffee is transferred to the upper chamber and remains there until it is poured into your cup.  

A Sour Mixture

In 1889, Hanson Goodrich sought and was granted a patent for what would become the standard stovetop percolator, designed to filter out sediment and coffee grounds from freshly brewed hot beverages. That is exactly what Goodrich's patented product did, but it wasn't without some drawbacks.  

Many coffee drinkers no longer use stovetop percolators because some say the coffee they make in them tastes bitter. However, we believe that it is essential to appreciate a wide variety of flavors and mouthfeels, so we encourage you to give percolator-brewed coffee another try. You can't claim to be a coffee connoisseur if you're unwilling to experiment with different brewing techniques, now can you?  

You may be curious about what makes stovetop coffee brewing machines' output so bitter and unsatisfying, even if you're willing to take the risk of trying one out.  

To generate the steam pressure required for brewing black coffee in a percolator, high heat is required, and this in turn can impart a metallic flavor to the appliance. That's why it's crucial that you monitor the temperature at which your coffee is brewed whenever you use equipment like this.  

The flavor of the brew is affected by more than just the brewing temperature. The brewer's technique has a major impact on the coffee's final taste and consistency. Coffee that has already been extracted drains back into the water reservoir as steam wets the ground beans. The coffee is over-extracted because it is reheated and re-steeped multiple times.

Despite this evidence, we continue to advocate for the maxim "don't knock it 'til you try it." It's completely subjective. We recommend the percolator wholeheartedly if you enjoy bitter tastes. However, if you're more of a light roast person in the morning, regular drip coffee should do the trick.  

An Active Brewing Method Using a Stovetop Percolator


In contrast to your "set it and forget it" drip coffee pot, the percolator requires your active participation in the brewing process. You can't just turn it on and leave it; keeping a close eye on it is required, lest you end up with overboiled coffee, which goes beyond being bitter to being downright unpleasant.  

Traditional percolators, on the other hand, can be a calming way to start the day if you don't mind keeping an eye on them. These coffee makers are like a morning meditation in that they force you to slow down and enjoy the process rather than rush through it.

Making Coffee in a Percolator on the Stove

How to Make Stovetop Percolator Coffee Graphic

The most challenging aspect of this method of brewing is finding the ideal water temperature. Stovetop percolators may appear complicated at first, but once you've got the hang of it, they're incredibly easy to use. The key is to stay alert and follow your instincts.

The Essentials

Besides a stovetop or other source of heat, you won't need much else to make coffee the old-fashioned way.  

  • Choice of Whole Coffee Beans
  • Grinder for coffee
  • Water
  • Cup measuring spoon for coffee
  • Stovetop coffee percolator
  • Your go-to cup

Initial Procedure: Coffee Grinding and Dosing

To begin, grab your trusty burr coffee grinder and a pound or two of your preferred, high-quality coffee beans. Make sure your grinder can produce a coarse grind size (the same as what you'd use in a French press coffee maker) before using it with a percolator.  

You should now measure out your coarse grind. The only thing standing between you and a pot of delicious coffee is probably the coffee-to-water ratio you're using. However, the amount of coffee you use in your stovetop percolator will affect the final flavor, so be sure to adjust your measurements accordingly. (Hint: a coffee scale is handy for precise measurements.) )

We suggest a ratio of one tablespoon of coffee to one cup of water, but you can experiment to find what works best for you. And don't forget to keep any leftover fresh grounds in an airtight coffee container for later use.

Second, construct and load the percolator.

Now, it’s time to start assembling the percolator Put in the pump stem and fill the reservoir with cold water if you haven't already.  

After inserting the filter basket into the brewer, you can either use freshly ground beans or pre-ground joe. Don't put too much in there. Because of the nature of percolators, making weak coffee is a waste of time. Also, you wouldn't want to throw away any of those precious beans, would you?  

Closing the percolator and covering the filter, if necessary, brings the whole thing to a close.

It's important to remember that the specifics of putting together your percolator may vary slightly from brand to brand and model to model, but the general procedure is as described above. Refer to the manufacturer's manual for assistance with this step if necessary.  

Third, ramp up the intensity

Start by filling a percolator with water and placing it on a stove (or camp stove, if you're taking your coffee to the great outdoors). It's important to heat the water slowly so that it doesn't boil and the coffee doesn't taste burnt or scalded.  

Water starts bubbling when it reaches the ideal temperature for steaming coffee. To keep things at just the right temperature, keep an eye on how often the bubbles appear through the glass top knob. If the bubbling sounds more like a steady stream than an intermittent one, the water is already boiling, and you should reduce the heat. If bubbles aren't forming frequently enough, increase the volume slightly.  

Step 4: Allow It to Grow

Once the water begins to bubble regularly, a timer should be set for no more than 10 minutes. You can experiment with different brewing times for the first few cups of coffee until you find the perfect strength for your taste; some percolator experts only brew for six to eight minutes. If you let your coffee percolate for a while, you'll end up with a stronger cup.  

The fifth step is to take it out of the oven.

After the allotted time has passed, turn off the burner and carefully take the percolator off the heat. Protect your hands with an oven mitt or kitchen towel because the vessel will be very hot to the touch.

We know you can't wait to serve the first cup of coffee, but before you do, please empty the coffee basket of any stale grounds. Some percolators don't have strong seals separating the basket from the reservoir, so you might be able to skip this step and pour a cup right away. Leave the grounds in the coffee maker while you pour, and you might get more grounds than coffee in your mug.  

Sixth Step: Have Fun

After you've finished your coffee and thrown the grounds away (or composted them), , close the percolator, and enjoy a hot cup of joe; you've worked for it.

Taking Care of Your Percolator

The best coffee is made in a clean coffee maker, regardless of whether you use a classic stainless steel percolator or a more modern electric percolator. While the cleaning process is tedious, maintaining a routine is one of the simplest ways to guarantee that your morning cup will always be delicious.  

To prevent the buildup of oils and residue from previous brews that could alter the taste of the next batch, you should wash your percolator with soapy water right after each use. However, when you need to give your coffee maker a more thorough cleaning — something you should schedule at least once a month — you can look to our cleaning guide. There, we have detailed instructions for sanitizing the classic percolator as well as other coffee brewing methods.  

People Are Curious

What triggers an electric percolator to shut off?  

However, we recognize that not everyone is interested in bringing back the stovetop percolator. Therefore, manufacturers created electric coffee percolators. When the brewing cycle for your dark roast (or light roast, if you prefer lighter, more acidic brews) is complete, the machine turns off automatically. But how  

Most electric percolators have temperature settings that will cause it to shut off or go into keep-warm mode once the water reaches a certain point.  

Is there something wrong with my percolator?

One of the most common causes of weak coffee is a basket that isn't filled with enough coffee grounds. Your coffee will taste weak if you don't use enough beans and the right amount of water.  

Another factor that could be affecting the flavor of your java is the manner in which you grind your beans. Fans of percolator coffee run the risk of clogging the brewer or over-extracting the joe if they use a grind that is too fine, while those who use a grind that is too coarse risk losing some of the coffee's flavor.  

Last but not least, if the water isn't getting hot enough, your freshly brewed coffee might be on the weak side. If you're using a percolator and aren't getting a particularly flavorful brew, try heating the water to its boiling point.  

Does a percolator work with regular ground coffee?

If you only have access to coarsely ground coffee, however, anything from a dark roast bean bag to a lighter roast will do. Be sure to read the label carefully because most of the pre-ground options on the grocery store shelf have a finer grind than you need for this brewer. Grind sizes are often clearly marked on the packaging of popular coffee brands.

Get a good grinder and whole beans if you aren't sure if pre-ground joe is suitable for a percolator, or do some more research online.  

When does the coffee in a percolator stop brewing?

In the end, it's up to you to decide when the coffee brewed in a percolator is ready to drink. It will take some experimentation to find the ideal brewing time for your coffee, but we suggest beginning with the standard six to eight minutes.  

Does a percolator require a filter?

These coffee brewing devices are made to function without the use of a traditional paper filter basket. There are a couple of reasons why a paper filter may improve your percolator experience, though.  

Adding a paper filter to your coffee is one of the simplest healthy coffee hacks you can use if you're concerned about the nutritional value of your morning brew. Paper filters tend to absorb most of the oils, making for a slightly healthier cup of coffee since some studies have shown a correlation between coffee oils and high cholesterol.  

Grounds can get through the built-in filter and into your cup, but a paper filter prevents this. What could be more frustrating than expecting a smooth, flavorful cup of coffee only to find grit at the bottom of your mug?  

Which is preferable, an electric percolator or a pot on the stove?

You can choose to use an old-fashioned stovetop percolator or a more modern electric model, but there are a few things to keep in mind when making your selection.  

A non-electric model will save you money, but many people prefer the ease of use of an electric percolator and are willing to spend the extra money on it. Electric percolators are more convenient because they turn off automatically after brewing is complete; all you have to do is push a button. However, the electric brewer cannot be used as a camping coffee pot like its non-electric counterpart. The lack of portability may be a dealbreaker for the outdoors enthusiast, but it may not be a problem for everyone.  

Our point is that we can't definitively tell you which is the better buy because only you know what will work best for your particular situation.  

Is a percolator suitable for brewing tea?

To make tea, you may use your percolator. Just give it a good scrub first to remove any lingering coffee grounds from the previous day. Fill the upper basket with loose leaf or bagged tea, fill the water reservoir, and let the tea perk until it reaches the desired strength, just like you would with a cup of coffee.  

The Way Your Grandma Used to Make It

We get it, a percolator is an antiquated method of brewing coffee; you won't find it in use at any of the cafes you frequent. But going retro once in a while can't hurt, right? If you're looking to slow things down a bit from your regular drip coffee brewer or just want to teach your friends a little bit about the history of coffee, a percolator is the way to go.  

For the love of coffee, don't let the water boil, and keep in mind that practice makes perfect when using a percolator. A bitter aftertaste will remain in your mouth.  

To Your Morning Coffee

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