Making percolator coffee is somewhat foolproof. The maker keeps things pretty automated. But there are still a number of tweaks and guidelines for making great percolator coffee.
This guide is part of our How to Make Coffee series.
How to Make Coffee in a Percolator
Here’s how to make a great pot of percolator coffee.
- Time to first sip: Up to 10 minutes (depending on your taste preference)
- Type of Coffee: Strong (and sometimes bitter) cup
- Coffee grind: Coarse
- Gear required: Percolator coffee maker, maybe a paper filter
- Difficulty: Easy to do, but you’ll need to monitor it for the best results
Percolator Tips: The less you let it “percolate,” the milder your coffee will taste.
You either hate them or love them. Percolators are an old-fashioned method for making coffee that has been around for a long time.
You’ll find them in both stovetop and electric stand-alone units.
Many people love them because they produce a pleasant aroma and “percolating” sound that makes your morning routine more enjoyable.
Some stovetop percolators don’t require disposable paper filters or single-use cups like many other types of coffee makers today.
Some people hate percolators because they produce a bitter cup. The reason for this is that percolators boil the brew multiple times, causing over-extraction and a bitter taste.
However, percolator fans will assure you that if you watch the boiling time, you will be rewarded with a wonderful, rich-tasting cup.
Percolator Coffee Recipe
- Fill the reservoir with cold water
- Rinse the paper filter with hot water.
- Add coarsely ground coffee
- Turn on heat
- Monitor the brewing process. Time it according to your taste
- Decant and serve
1. Fill with cold water
Fill the reservoir with cold water (based on the amount of coffee you want to make).
Starting with cold water will cause the percolator to heat slowly which gives you a better-tasting cup.
Filtered water will give even better results.
2. Rinse the paper filter with hot water
Rinse the paper filter with hot water. Then insert it into the percolator. Rinsing paper filters first helps remove any unwanted taste in your coffee.
3. Add coarsely ground coffee
Add coarsely ground coffee to the basket, being mindful that percolators normally make strong coffee. So, less is better unless you love it strong.
Avoid using finely ground coffee, as this can become mud in your percolator.
Grinding with a burr grinder will give more consistent results and fewer fine particles.
4. Turn on the heat
Turn on heat. If you’re using a stovetop percolator, set it on the stove before turning the burner on to a medium or low setting.
5. Monitor the brewing process
Monitor the brewing process. Most percolators feature a clear plastic or glass knob on the top of the kettle. Once the water gets hot enough, you’ll see it bubbling up inside the knob. You want the bubbles to sputter in short intervals.
If the water is bubbling too fast, your water is heating too soon and too hot. If the water isn’t bubbling much, it’s too cool, so turn up the heat just a bit.
Once your water is bubbling at steady intervals, you need to time it according to your taste, but it should be between 4 and 10 minutes.
Anything less than 4 minutes is too weak while more than 10 minutes results in a bitter cup.
6. Decant and serve
Decant and serve. Remove the percolator from heat and take out the basket of coffee grounds.
It’s a good idea to allow the coffee to rest for a couple of minutes, giving particulates time to settle to the bottom of the pot.
Replace the lid and pour the coffee into mugs. Enjoy!
How to Make Coffee in a Percolator (Video)
The following video will show how to make coffee in a coffee percolator.
It is percolated for 7 minutes but you can experiment and see how long to percolate yours for the flavor you like best.
Have a question about brewing percolator coffee? Or maybe a tip to share? Join me in the comments!
- About the Author
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Dena Haines is a co-founder and blogger on EnjoyJava – and is working to make it the best coffee blog in the world.
She also blogs about travel at Storyteller.Travel and photography at Storyteller Tech. Dena is a partner at Storyteller Media, a publishing company she started with her husband, Bryan.