Food & Drink

How to Make Good Coffee With a Percolator

February 12, 2021

Making coffee is truly an art form. Many types of different coffees can be made with different types of tools and methods. One of these tools is called the percolator. The Percolator is an old-fashioned kettle-like brewing tool that is a traditional fan favorite. Percolators are favored by those who enjoy a rich, stronger brew. And if you are someone who prefers a lighter sweet coffee this may not be for you. 

For those who love strong coffee, using a percolator can be very rewarding. Despite its simple design and the intuitive assumption that it would behave much like a kettle, a percolator can have a bit of a learning curve. If not used properly, you could end up burning your coffee- a commonly cited complaint from those who attempt to make their first cup without knowing this knowledge. You can also use a coffee grinder.

The Right Technique

First, when using the percolator it is important to use a clean pot with filtered cool water. The quality of the water that you use in combination with freshly ground coffee will make a difference in how your coffee turns out. Pour the water into the pot before placing the stem and filter basket inside. So that you can be sure that the water does not reach the filter basket. Having too much water could cause grounds to escape the filter basket and ruin the coffee. 

Second, make sure to use enough coffee as many people tend to underestimate how much to add. You should put about one heaped spoon per cup of water in the pot. Using filter paper in the filter basket may also help to catch any finer grounds that would otherwise escape the basket. These filters must be acid-free otherwise they will ruin the flavor of the coffee. 

Percolators come in two different models: electric or stovetop. If you have an electric model, all you have to do is turn it on. If you own a stovetop percolator turn on the heat to low or medium. When the first burble hits the glass bubble on the top, turn the heat down. If your percolator ‘percs’ more than once every three to five seconds this will boil the coffee resulting in that burnt flavor. Ideally, the water should stay at about 95 degrees Celsius or 200 degrees Fahrenheit. This should allow the steam to build up in the stem and gently bubble over. Keep the percolator on heat for one minute per cup of water. 

After this, remove the pot from the heat and remove the filter basket. (This will be hot so use caution). It is important to do this right away otherwise the steam will condense inside the pot lid and continue dripping through the used coffee. Do not use the keep warm feature on an electric model. But instead, use a pre-warmed Thermo flask or the flavor will be changed. 

Advantages of Using a Percolator 

  • If you are a fan of strong brewed coffee then the percolator is the ideal tool for you to own. 
  • I found that with a coffee pot that they were not well insulated and would get cold quickly. With a percolator, the coffee gets very hot and stays hot. 
  • They are very user-friendly and easy to use. 
  • It’s durable and easy to transport and can be used outdoors as well and are one of the best coffee tools to use while camping.
  • They have an old-fashioned aesthetic. 
  • Once you perfect how to use one properly it’ll be the gateway to exploring the coffee brewing culture. 


Percolators tend to be quite cheap, although there are models that are more expensive than others. Electric models are more expensive than the stovetop. Because they are automatic and contain expensive electronics. Steel percolators tend to cost more than aluminum. I would avoid aluminum altogether as the metal tends to taint the flavor of the coffee. Also when buying a stovetop percolator choose one with a glass top over a plastic one as it can withstand higher temperatures and the steam can get quite hot. Based on this, my suggestion would be a steel stovetop model with a glass top. This is the best option as it will not affect the flavor of the coffee, can withstand a lot of heat, and you can easily control the temperature. You could also get an electric model if you like, but who doesn’t like the aesthetic of using an old-fashioned coffee brewer on a gas stove. 

If you are a fan of strong brews, the percolator is a good coffee brewing tool to on. You do not need the best coffee percolator to make a great cup of Joe but you do need to be mindful of the technique, especially the amount of time and heat being used in the brewing process. If you follow these instructions, then you are sure to make a great cup of coffee. If you are someone who is not a fan of strong coffee you will not enjoy the percolator and instead should opt for drip coffee. 

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