When you’re scratching your head trying to come up with a simple way to brew coffee it can be all too easy to fall back to the instant coffee. Although it’s super simple, this brew method is just not as satisfying as making real coffee.
This is where the coffee percolator can shine as a simple and easy way to brew coffee and you don’t need barista training or any specialist equipment to get you started. There are just a couple of ground rules you need to know to get the best coffee out of this device and here they are.
Percolate coffee between 7-15 minutes depending on the size of pot you are using. Make sure the coffee is coarsely ground and don’t let the water boil!
Here’s a deeper dive into all things related to a percolator and you’ll be a coffee perk expert in no time.
What is a Coffee Percolator?
A percolator is a traditional kind of coffee maker that passes hot water through coffee grounds repeatedly to extract a rich and tasty cup of coffee. Simply add water to the lower chamber, add the basket on top, and add ground-up coffee beans to this. The percolator is then placed over a heat source and as the water warms up it bubbles up through a spout and over the coffee. This then drips back down into the bottom chamber to be reheated and passed up through the spout again. This is the process of percolating.
Why Choose a Percolator?
There are loads of great reasons to choose percolator coffee over other brewing methods and here are just a few examples.
Easy To Use
Coffee brewing using a percolator is really simple and doesn’t require any special skills or knowledge. Unlike espresso, you don’t have to be a barista to perfect this brewing process. All you need is some ground-up coffee, some water, and a bit of time to let it percolate.
Rich, Aromatic Coffee
Percolated coffee has a very bold and full flavor. When done correctly it makes a satisfying cup of joe with a lovely aroma. Because the water passed through the coffee repeatedly it gives a stronger brewed coffee compared to pour-over or drip coffee.
The percolator coffee pot is a compact way to brew coffee. It’s small enough to fit in the back of a kitchen cupboard or in a drawer so won’t take up counter space as a coffee machine does. It’s perfect for small or busy kitchens or for use at work. It’s also great to have on the road if you enjoy camping, RV-ing, or car camping.
This kind of coffee brewer won’t set you back by much at all with most percolators coming in at less than $50. If well looked after they can last a lifetime so that’s a worthwhile investment to ensure great coffee for many years to come.
Camping/ Power Outage
The traditional (stovetop) percolators don’t require any power to brew the perfect cup of coffee. All you need is a heat source so this can be a wood-burning stove, gas hob, camp-fire, camping stove, or anything else. It’s a great option to have on hand in case you ever experience a power outage.
Coffee percolation is a method of brewing coffee that holds a lot of nostalgia for many people. It’s quite a traditional brew method and the sounds and aromas may take you back to grandma’s kitchen when you were young. There’s something quite special about keeping these traditions alive for future generations as well as allowing this brew method to stir up memories on those quiet weekend mornings.
Different Types of Percolators
The more traditional kind of coffee maker is the stovetop percolator. These work using an external heat source. They are a great option for brewing coffee whilst camping, at work, or on the go but do require a bit more care when brewing coffee as they can easily be left to overheat or to over-extract causing bitter coffee.
Electric percolators are a bit more pricy than stovetop options and do require a power source to work. They are better at maintaining a good water temperature for brewing coffee. They tend to percolate coffee for the correct time as well so won’t let it over-stew.
How to Use a Percolator
Make sure your percolator is clean and free from loose coffee grounds. Old grounds can affect the coffee flavor as can a build-up of coffee oils in the device. Clean it in warm soapy water and rinse thoroughly to ensure no suds remain.
Choose your favorite coffee beans and get a coffee grinder ready set to a coarse grind. If you’re using pre-ground opt for coarse grounds or french press coffee.
It’s worth considering adding a filter paper to the upper basket of your percolator, especially if you hate grounds in your cup. You can often modify a flat-bottom filter but cutting a small hole in it for the spout. If you prefer strong coffee with a rich texture then you can try brewing without the paper in place.
What Kind of Coffee
The best coffee for percolation isn’t a hard and fast rule. Good coffee comes down to your individual taste preferences and what flavors you enjoy best. Dark roast beans are rich in single-note flavors like chocolate and nutty flavors and are more oily giving a more intense flavor. They are less acidic compared to light roast coffee beans but can end up bitter if over-extracted.
Light roast coffee is higher in acid so gives a ‘brightness’ and more complex flavor to the coffee. It’s full of fruity and floral notes and a little less intense than a dark roast.
Not sure? Try a medium roast and take it from there!
How Much Coffee Should I Add
The coffee to water ratio for percolating coffee is another factor that needs to be adjusted to suit your individual taste preferences. I’d recommend starting with a tablespoon of coffee (about 5g) to each cup of water you add. The amount of water depends on the size of coffee maker you use and it’s important to not fill it to above the spout.
If you find the taste too strong or too weak try adjusting the amount of coffee you use to counteract this.
Once you have your coffee pot ready to go the next step is to heat it up. You want to let the percolator work over medium heat. Ideally, the water heats up to pass to the upper chamber but shouldn’t reach a boiling point as this will burn your ground coffee beans. Keep an eye on your coffee brewer, especially if it’s your first time using one.
How Long Do I Let It Perk
The length of time taken to perk coffee is around 7-15 minutes depending on the size of brewer you’re using. The best indicator for the coffee being done is the water turning a deep shade of brown as it passes up through the spout. If you like very strong coffee then let it brew for longer.
Use oven mitts to remove the percolator from the heat source and remove the coffee grounds basket from the pot (again, using oven mitts or a towel so you don’t burn yourself). Let the coffee sit for 1-2 minutes if you’re not using a filter paper as this allows any loose grounds to sink to the bottom.
Serve and enjoy!
Other Coffee Brewing Methods
Also known as the stovetop espresso maker, people often confuse the Moka pot with a percolator. It works in a similar manner but uses steam pressure to force the hot water up through a basket of coffee grounds. The water only passes through the coffee once rather than repeatedly and a very finely ground coffee is used to give a bold, intense flavor.
Brewing coffee with a french press gives a longer contact time of coffee to water so gives a bolder brew compared to drip machines or pour-over. The coffee sits in hot water for 4 minutes before a stainless steel mesh plunger is pressed down through the coffee to remove loose grounds.
Cold brew coffee is a slow extraction technique where coffee grounds sit in cold water for 12 hours or more. The low temperature means the extraction happens very slowly and creates a sweet, low acid cup of coffee that’s extremely refreshing. It can be enjoyed cold over ice or warmed up and enjoyed hot.
Percolating coffee is not rocket science but it can go badly wrong if you don’t know the basics. Make sure you’re using coarsely ground coffee, don’t let it sit on the heat for too long, and don’t let the water boil. Now it’s time to sit back and enjoy that delicious steamy mug of java, you’ve earned it!