How to Make Coffee in a Percolator: Get the Strongest Brew Possible!

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If you’re a coffee enthusiast, you may have tried out coffee brewed in all the usual ways. Whether it’s something potent made in an espresso machine, the nasty brew from a drip automatic coffee maker, or the nicer ones made in a French Press or Moka pot.

But how about something a lot more old-timey? Percolators have been around for decades and are often dismissed as something old-fashioned and difficult to use. 

But this isn’t true at all. Coffee brewed in a percolator is stronger, heavier, and tastes more potent than anything made in a coffee maker.

If you have a hand-me-down percolator from your grandparents, it is worth dusting it off and giving it a try. Not sure how it works? The mechanism is pretty simple and the appliance is easy to use.

But that’s not all. We are going to tell you how to make coffee in a percolator. If you are tired of weak and mild brews, no matter how strong you brew your joe, it’s time for the percolator!

What is a Percolator?

To describe this appliance or brewer in the simplest of terms, it is a sort of kettle with a mechanism that draws and trickles hot water through the grounds. 

The term percolate generally describes a process of filtering something through a porous surface. When the water passes through the grounds, the coffee is brewed.

While brewing coffee, the percolator recirculates it through the grounds several times. As a result, it is brewed more than once. This means that the coffee will smell incredible, but it will also be very strong and potent, and even a little bitter for some.

People also dismiss an old-fashioned coffee percolator because they result in a little sediment or coffee grounds in your cup. This also makes the coffee taste a little extra bitter. For these reasons, people prefer using drip coffee makers instead of percolators

However, if you want to try this method to brew coffee and practice a little, you will be able to brew an incredible cup of coffee using a percolator. You just need to find the percolator that suits you best and learn how to use it properly.

Percolator Types:

There are two main kinds of percolators:

01. Stovetop Percolators:

These brewers need an external heat source and are generally placed on top of stovetop burners. They are very convenient because you take them with you and use them anywhere with a stove. 

They enable you to make coffee on the stove. However, you need to keep an eye to make sure the water doesn’t boil over and burn the coffee.

02. Electric Percolators:

Electric percolators coffee makers are easier because you don’t have to worry about temperature or brewing time. These brewers typically have various settings that automate the brewing  process. 

The best thing about electric percolators is that they tend to brew consistent coffee using settings that pre-installed.

Moreover, most electric percolators keep your coffee warm once the brewing process is finished. However, it is important to remember that this can result in the over-extraction of your coffee, leading to an acrid and bitter taste.

How to Brew Coffee in a Percolator

Brew Coffee in a Percolator

These steps will enable you to brew a perfect cup of coffee in a percolator.

Clean Your Device:

Start with a clean percolator. All the different components have to be cleaned properly, even if you just went and got a new percolator from the store. Anything like old coffee remnants and chemicals will alter the taste of your brew.

Prepare the Percolator:

Assemble the percolator by placing the stand and the stem together and set them inside the pot. Pour some fresh water into the base. It should be no higher than spring at the top of the stem.

Add Your Coffee:

Add the amount of coffee you need to the grounds basket (around 1 tablespoon of ground coffee for a large cup of coffee). Connect the basket to the stem.

Arrange the Percolator:

Close the grounds basket tightly using the cover. You need to check that the dome is positioned right in the middle of the lid. Cover the pot with the lid firmly.

Brew the Coffee:

Place your percolator on a cold burner if it is a stovetop model. If you have an electric one, plug it in. Heat the percolator slowly until it perks. Depending on the strength of the brew you prefer, perk it for around 7-10 minutes.

Remove from the Heat:

After it has been brewed to your preference, remove the percolator from the heat. Going any longer than the advised time will result in a bitter and over-extracted brew,

Finish Up:

Let the coffee grounds settle at the bottom of the pot. Resting it for 5 minutes is a good idea. Pour your brewed coffee into a cup, carafe, or pot. You can serve it with a sweetener, creamer, or the flavorings of your choice.

Why Brew with a Percolator?

With so many options available, you might wonder whether you should bother with a percolator coffee pot. We’ve got the answers ready and we might just convert you to a whole new way of brewing coffee.

Stronger Brew:

Percolators are less popular because this method yields a rather bitter brew. The coffee is very strong and a super-rich flavor. 

This can be too much for some people. But this is a matter of preference. If you prefer strong coffee, a percolator is the perfect brewing method for you.

Extremely Hot Coffee:

Percolators use extremely high temperatures for brewing coffee. In fact, it makes the hottest cup of coffee ever. Your coffee will even be hotter than that brewed in an espresso machine. 

This is because percolators create steam to draw water through the system. This steam also heats the water, boiling it and resulting in a very hot cup of joe.

Cloudy Coffee:

Because of how it is brewed, this method of making coffee results in a certain flavor and texture. The coffee grounds are drenched with steam and water circulates the system and through the grounds multiple times. 

Your coffee is thus reheated so it can be brewed many times. As a result, the brew is very saturated and has a rather cloudy appearance.

Percolators: Do’s and Don’ts

If you just got a new percolator, or you’ve retrieved an old coffee percolator that’s been in your basement since the 80s, you might be confused about how to get the hang of things. But have no fear; we’ll show you the ropes.

What You Should Do:

  • Follow the manufacturer’s instruction manual when assembling the percolator.
  • Use good quality coffee beans for the best tasting coffee.
  • Clean your percolator after you have brewed your coffee.
  • Carefully pack it and the separate parts when you take it with you on journeys.

What You Shouldn’t Do:

  • Do not leave unconsumed coffee or used coffee grounds in the percolator.
  • Never leave a stovetop percolator on the burner after brewing is done.
  • Avoid using abrasive materials when cleaning your percolator.

Frequently Asked Questions about Percolator Brewing

Still have questions about using a percolator for making coffee? We answer some of the most pressing concerns here.

01. How Much Coffee is Needed in a Percolator?

This depends on the volume your percolator can hold, as well as the strength of your coffee. On average, you need a tablespoon of coffee for 6 ounces of water. 

For a lighter brew, use just a touch over half a tablespoon for the same volume of water, or use 8 ounces of water. For a stronger brew, use 1.5 tablespoons of coffee.

02. How Long Does It Take to Percolate Coffee?

As a rule of thumb, it generally takes 5-10 minutes for your coffee to be brewed but this may differ in a stovetop percolator based on the heat used.

03. Which Grind Size is Best for a Percolator?

Use a coarse grind when brewing coffee in a percolator, as using a fine grind can make the brew unbearably bitter. Also, always remember to use quality beans that have been freshly ground.

04. Which is Better: A Percolator or an Automatic Drip Coffee Maker?

As with most foods and beverages, this is a matter of personal taste. Drip coffee is much lighter and milder. On the other hand, percolators brew much stronger and more intense coffee. 

However, you like a more rustic and authentic brew with a more caffeinated taste, we suggest giving a percolator a try.

Final Thoughts

No matter how it is brewed, few things bring more joy than a freshly brewed, steaming hot cup of coffee. A percolator is a classic way of brewing coffee and has stuck around because of how convenient and effective it is. 

Knowing how to make coffee in a percolator is great for people who want to make a very strong cup of coffee. For unbeatable flavor, give your old percolator a try. We assure you that you won’t regret it when you take that first flavorful sip!

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