There are millions of coffee fans around the world and if you are reading this article, you are, for sure, one of them. As any coffee fan, you may be looking for the best way to brew your perfect cup of coffee. If it is so, this article is for you as we are going to discuss how to make coffee in a percolator.

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The truth is that nowadays, when technologies develop rapidly, such things as drip coffee makers, one-cup coffee makers, and other devices become extremely popular. At the same time, a percolator becomes something old-fashioned. However, this way to brew coffee has its own amazing advantages. Moreover, it is very simple and pretty easy.

If you are interested in making coffee in a percolator, keep reading and you’ll learn all the secrets of this method of brewing coffee.

What Is a Percolator

If we try to describe a percolator in simple words, it is a kind of kettle with a system that draws and trickle hot water through grounds brewing coffee. The verb percolate is used to describe a process of filtering something through a porous surface.

Some time ago, both electric and stovetop percolators were very popular. In fact, it was the most wide-spread way to brew coffee before automatic machines were invented. After it, the popularity of this method decreased gradually.

The reason is that there are some specific disadvantages of using percolator to brew coffee. First of all, during the process, grounds can escape the filter and get into brewed coffee. Also, while brewing coffee, percolator recirculates it several times. This means that it is brewed more than once. As a result, your coffee will smell incredible, but it will be too strong and bitter. Nevertheless, if you learn about this method to brew coffee and train a little, you’ll be able to make an incredible cup of coffee using a percolator.

You just need to find your perfect percolator and learn how to use it properly.

Benefits of Making a Coffee in a Percolator

Speaking of the advantages of a percolator, the most obvious one is, of course, its simplicity. It has a very simple structure and it doesn’t require any extraordinary skills to brew some coffee.


One other great thing about percolators is that they are very durable, especially when it comes to stovetop percolators. They are usually made of steel or aluminum, so it will last very long. However, it is better to avoid those made of aluminum as they may react with coffee.

Big Volume

Using a percolator, you can easily brew one cup of coffee or many cups for all your friends. Due to its simplicity, this method allows you to make coffee without any efforts. You don’t need to spend lots of money to make a coffee in either Keurig k475 or k575.

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Low Price and Variety of Options

A percolator is cheaper, easier to use and more durable, and you can choose the one you like. There are big percolators for 12 and even 30 cups of coffee, as well as small that will let you make just one cup.


Finally, you won’t have any problems with its maintenance. There are no difficult mechanisms or systems, so you can clean it easily. In fact, it is a simple pot with some extra details, such as a filter and a chamber.

How Does a Percolator Work

How Does a Percolator Work

As we’ve already said, percolator has a very simple structure. It consists of a small chamber that is connected with a tube or another chamber. The chamber is placed inside a kettle and contains grounded coffee. The kettle is filled with water that is heated to a certain temperature so it can run through the system and percolate coffee.

As you can see, it is a very simple system that can be used almost anywhere. If you use a stovetop percolator, you can even take it to the camping site and enjoy great coffee while out of the comfort of your home.

Pros and Cons of Percolators

Each coffee fan has its perfect method of brewing coffee. The truth is that everyone has rather specific tastes and preferences, so most people tend to buy the same coffee at the same place and use the same method to brew it.

It means that it is impossible to name the perfect way to brew coffee. Someone believes that pour-over kettle gives better tasting brew, while others enjoy coffee made in a percolator. In this section, you can learn about the advantages and disadvantages of brewing coffee with a percolator. It will help you understand the specifics of this method and decide whether you like it or not.


  • For brewing coffee with a percolator, a very high temperature is required. It is a very important aspect as it influences the taste of your coffee and all other methods usually require lower temperatures.
  • Brewing coffee with the percolator, you can expect more flavorful and even stronger taste. Lots of coffee fans prefer this method as any other option cannot provide you with such strong taste as a percolator. However, if you like strong coffee but want to make it less bitter, you can add some milk or the world’s best coffee syrup.
  • Even non-automatic models allow you to control the time of brewing coffee.
  • It can be used almost anywhere, even outdoors.
  • Percolators are great for people who prefer simple things that are easy to use. Moreover, they usually designed in a vintage style.
  • Percolators are very durable, so you can transport them easily and use them in various settings without worrying about damaging it.


  • Using a percolator, it is easy to over-extract coffee, so it becomes bitter. Some people say that you can do nothing with it while others believe that you can avoid this problem with just a little practice.
  • Brewing coffee, you need to control the temperature as if it boils your coffee will, for sure, be very bitter due to over-extraction.
  • When coffee is brewed with a percolator, water passes through the grounds several times. As a result, grounds can get to the tube that leads to over-extraction. As you remember, it will make your coffee very bitter.
  • Using a percolator, you need more time to brew your coffee. In other words, this method requires more time than most other methods. It can be an issue for many people as most coffee-lovers want to get their coffee ASAP.
  • You need to practice so you can make a great cup of coffee using a percolator.
  • You need to clean your percolator properly. While having a pretty simple structure, percolator can be troublesome when it comes to cleaning. It consists of several parts and each of them should be cleaned or at least rinsed after each usage.

Types of Percolators

Types of Percolators

As we’ve said before, a percolator is a pretty simple device, so there are not so many types. In fact, percolators differ in ways water is circulated through the systems and ways it is heated. When it comes to the first one, there are gravity and pressure percolators. Speaking of the second type, there are electric and stovetop percolators.

Gravity Percolator

It is easy to guess why this type of percolator got such a name. The reason is that water circulates the system due to gravity. Usually, this type of percolator has a chamber for water that is located at the bottom and connected with a perforated basket with the help of a vertical tube.

When the water is heated, it starts to move upwards to the basket with grounded coffee. After it, due to gravity, it comes through the grounds and returns to the bottom chamber. It repeats several times until the water is almost boiling.

Pressure Percolator

Pressure percolators are usually made of three parts. There is a lower section where water is held, the middle section with grounds, and the upper section where the brewed coffee is gathered.

This type of percolator makes water move due to the pressure that appears when water starts boiling. The steam creates pressure and makes water move to the upper chamber through the grounded coffee. Steeped coffee is held in the upper section.

Stovetop Percolator

Stovetop percolator is one of the simplest devices for brewing coffee. It uses an external source (stove) of heat for making coffee. Using this type of percolator, you need to remember that you should be very attentive while making your coffer as this percolator must be removed from the heat as soon as your coffee is brewed. If you left it on the heat, your coffee can over-boil and become very bitter.

Nevertheless, this percolator is very simple and durable. It consists of a pot, a basket, a stem, and a lid. Usually, the lid has a glob made of glass so you can see what happens inside the kettle and control the brewing process.

Electric Percolator

Using an electric percolator, you shouldn’t worry about temperature and brewing time. Usually, it has various settings that allow you to automate the process. The great thing about electric percolators is that they can make consistent brew using installed settings. Also, most of them will keep your coffee warm after the brewing process is finished. Just keep in mind that in some cases, it can lead to the over-extraction and make your coffee bitter.

Characteristics of a Coffee Made in a Percolator

If you are a real coffee fan, you know well that the same coffee brewed with various methods will taste differently. Coffee made in a percolator also has its specific characteristics. Before deciding to use this method, you need to understand how it can influence the taste of your coffee. So, below there are the main characteristics of a coffee made in a percolator.

Stronger Taste

Percolators became less popular because this method results in rather bitter and strong coffee. However, as we’ve already said, everyone has its own preferences. If you like really strong coffee, a percolator is a perfect option for you.

Really Hot Coffee

Percolators use very high temperature for coffee brewing. In fact, it can provide you with the hottest cup of coffee in your life. The reason is that percolators produce steam to make water move through the system. As you understand, the water should boil so the steam can appear.

Cloudy Coffee Appearance

Due to its specifics, this method of brewing coffee leads to a specific flavor and texture. The coffee grounds are soaked with the steam and water circulates the system several times. It means that your coffee is reheated so it can be brewed several times. In other words, your coffee is supersaturating.

Sediment in the Cup

As the water recirculates the system several times, going through the grounds, it can produce some sediment in your coffee. This sediment makes your coffee even stronger. If you don’t like sediment in your cup of coffee, you need to look for other brewing methods. You can read the review of Keurig k55 that will make a great cup of coffee with no sediment.

Parts of Percolators

Percolator is one of the simplest devices for brewing coffee. In fact, it is just a little bit more than a simple kettle. Most percolators consist of only 5 parts that can be easily gathered together. There are STEM, dome, carafe, base, and ground basket. All these parts are made of steel and very durable. Below, there is a detailed description of each part.


STEM – it is a tube that is located right in the middle of a kettle. It goes from the bottom of a percolator to its upper part. In fact, it connects a base and a basket with coffee grounds. Through this tube, water from a base moves through the grounds.

When it comes to stovetop percolators, they have stems with round bases. Speaking of electric percolators, they use ringed based stems. Using a percolator, you need to ensure that the base of a stem is clean and undamaged, as it can significantly affect the functionality of your coffeemaker.

On the top of a stem, there is a protruding flange that is used for a basket fixation.


Dome, it is a small translucent part of a lid. Usually, it covers knob and is required for brewing process control. Using this knob, you can see the coffee color and determine when the brewing process should be finished. It is especially useful when you use a stovetop percolator.

At the same time, electric percolators usually have built-in timers instead of translucent knobs. With the help of the time, an electric percolator stops the brewing process automatically and you don’t need to control it.


Parts of Percolators - Carafe

A carafe is a kind of cover that is placed on the top of a basket. It has numerous openings and circular rings that aim to create a showering effect, so the grounds located in the basket can soak well.

Also, it aims to prevent grounds from splashing all over a percolator.


A base is a lower part of a percolator. It is a reservoir where the water for your coffee is placed. A base is connected with a basket with the help of a stem.

Ground Basket

Ground basket is located in the upper part of a percolator and has an opening in the center, so a stem can be attached. A basket has a whole bunch of tiny holes that keep grounds while allowing water to circulate.

Many people prefer to use an envelope or flat paper filters that are placed inside a basket. It helps to smooth the taste and reduce the amount of sediment in a cup.

How to Make a Coffee in a Percolator

If you want to learn how to make a coffee in a percolator, this section is for you. Here is a step-by-step guide for making coffee in a percolator.

Use Only Cleaned Percolator

Make sure to wash all parts of a percolator properly, even if it is its first use. The leftovers of old coffee grounds or any other substances can influence the taste of your coffee.

Step 1 – Make some preparations

Put the stand and the stem together and set them into the pot. Pour some fresh water into the base (it’s level should be no higher than spring at the top of the stem).

Step 2 – Add coffee grounds

Put the required amount of coffee into the grounds basket (about 1 tbsp. per cup). Attach the grounds basket to the stem.

Step 3 – Set everything up

Close the grounds basket firmly using the cover. Make sure that the dome is located right in the center of the lid. Cover the pot with the lid securely.

Step 4 – Make coffee

Put your percolator on a cold burner. Heat the percolator slowly until it starts perking. Depending on how strong coffee you prefer, perk it for about 7-10 minutes.

Step 5 – Final touches

Remove the percolator from heat. Let it sit for a few minutes, so any loose grounds sink.​


How to Clean and Maintain a Percolator

Now, when you know how to make coffee with a percolator, it’s time to learn how to clean and maintain it. As we’ve said before, a percolator is a very durable device, so there are both everyday cleaning and deep-cleaning tips you should know.

Step 1 – Basic cleaning of a percolator

When it comes to basic cleaning routine that you should follow after each usage, it is pretty simple and consists of several steps.

Step 2 – Clean percolator right after usage

Never leave coffee and coffee grounds in a percolator overnight. If you want to make your percolator serve you for a long time, clean it properly after each use. As soon as you finish enjoying your coffee, you should drain out the remaining liquid and remove all used grounds. If you leave your percolator uncleaned for too long, remaining coffee and grounds can stain it that will for sure affect the taste of brewed coffee.

Step 3 – Use soapy water

Wash of the percolator with warm soapy water. Put your percolator to the sink that is filled with some warm water and add a little dish soap (no more than 1 tbsp.). Wipe your percolator with a sponge and rinse it out properly.

Step 4 – Scrub all stains up

If there is some grime or coffee residue in a basket, make sure to scrub it up. Coffee grounds are pretty oily and after some time ground basket can become very dirty. In fact, it is better to wipe the basket with a soapy sponge after every use.

Step 5 – Pay attention to stem

Make sure to clean stem well, rinse it and remove all grounds on it. As it holds the basket in place, the stem can become pretty oily after some time. Just wipe it with a soapy sponge and rinse well with clean water each time you clean your percolator.

Step 6 – Deep cleaning methods

If you didn’t follow the steps above and your percolator requires some deep cleaning, there are some useful tips for you. In fact, you can use two methods to clean a very stained or old percolator.

Baking Soda

  • Pour some water into a percolator and add about 2-3 tbsp. of baking soda;
  • Heat the mixture as if it is coffee you are going to brew;
  • After it is heated, wait until it cools down and scrub a percolator with a soft cloth or sponge.


  • Mix some clean water with the same amount of vinegar;
  • Pour the mixture into the percolator and heat it up;
  • Pour the mixture out and repeat the process again;
  • After the percolated is heated once again, pour out the mixture and fill the pot with some clean water;
  • Heat the percolator once again to remove the smell of vinegar;
  • If there are still some stains inside the percolator, put there some baking soda and add vinegar;
  • When it starts bubbling, close the percolator and shake it slightly;
  • After it, rinse the percolator with some freshwater.


Difference Between Percolators and Automatic Drip Coffee Makers

The fact is that both a percolator and a drip coffee maker are rather simple and cheap devices that can be used for brewing coffee. Both of them have their own advantages and disadvantages and suit different tastes.

The main difference is the intensity of a brewed coffee. With the help of a percolator, you can make stronger coffee as it is brewed several times just on its first go. At the same time, a drip coffee maker can brew you with a lighter coffee as water runs through the grounds only once.

In other words:

  • Using a percolator, you will get a pretty strong and rather bold cup of coffee;
  • Coffee made with a percolator has less depth of flavor as it is usually over-extracted;
  • Using a drip coffee maker, you can get a cup of coffee that has various subtleties in flavor;
  • A lighter and smoother coffee can be brewed with a drip coffee maker.

Speaking of a percolator, it is a great option for people who need to brew several cups of coffee in time. Also, it is a great option for travelers as a stovetop percolator can be used anywhere.

Those people who don’t like too strong and bitter coffee should give preference to a drip coffee maker. It is very easy to use and can brew you a great cup of smooth coffee with a deep flavor.

Does More Spending Mean More Quality

A percolator is a pretty cheap device for brewing coffee. Nevertheless, there are cheaper and more expensive options.

You need to know that not always a more expensive percolator will provide you with a better cup of coffee. However, there are several very significant points that influence the price of a percolator.

Of course, electric percolators are more expensive than stovetop ones. The reason is that they are automated and use some expensive electronics. At the same time, they allow you to have better control over the brewing process.

One other important thing is the materials that are used for a percolator. Steel percolators are more expensive than aluminum ones. The reason is that the second one tends to react with coffee. It influences the taste of coffee significantly. Also, when it comes to stovetop percolators, it is better to choose those with a glass dome instead of a plastic one. The reason is that glass withstands higher temperatures than plastic. Also, because of high temperatures, plastic can have an unpleasant smell that will affect your coffee.

Do’s And Don’ts With a Percolator

A percolator is very easy to use, but there are some rules you need to remember when brewing coffee with this device.


  • Follow the instruction when setting up your percolator.
  • Clean your percolator after each use.
  • Replace some parts of your percolator if necessary.
  • Use it for brewing coffee for a large group of people.
  • Take it with you while traveling so you can enjoy your coffee even at camping.


  • Never leave your percolator uncleaned.
  • Using stovetop percolator, never leave it on heat after brewing is completed.
  • Don’t use abrasive materials to clean your percolator.

FAQ About Making Coffee in a Percolator

FAQ About Making Coffee in a Percolator

We’ve told you everything you need to know about percolators, including their characteristics, types, parts, advantages, and disadvantages. If you still have some questions about this method of coffee brewing, below, you can find answers to some of the most popular questions about percolators.

How Much Coffee Do You Put in a Percolator?

The amount of coffee significantly depends on the volume of your percolator. Nevertheless, there is a formula you can use to measure the required amount of coffee. Just keep in mind that you need to use a coffee-measuring spoon that is equal to 2 tbsp. If you want to make a light coffee, ½ of a measure-spoon per cup will be enough. For medium coffee, you can use about ¾ of a measure-spoon and for strong coffee – a whole spoon.

How long do you percolate coffee?

If you use an electric percolator, it will switch off automatically. When it comes to stovetop percolators, you need to use a dome to control the process. Through the dome, you can see how the coffee gets darker. Usually, it will take you about 5-10 minutes.

How do you use an old fashioned coffee percolator?

An old fashioned percolator is, in fact, a stovetop percolator. It means that if you want to brew coffee with an old fashioned percolator, just follow the same steps as for simple stovetop percolators.

Does a percolator make a good coffee?

It depends on your tastes and preferences. Lots of people consider coffee made in a percolator too strong and bitter, while others like it very much. If you are a fan of a strong and very hot coffee, a percolator is for sure the best option for you.

How do you know when percolator coffee is done?

Using a percolator to brew your coffee, you can hear water inside a pot bubbling up. As soon as it starts to bubble, reduce the heat and let it perk for about 5-7 minutes.

Why is my percolator coffee weak?

As we’ve already said before, percolators use a higher temperature to brew coffee. It means that it is recirculated several times during the whole process to leads to a very strong coffee. If your coffee brewed with a percolator is too weak, it means that the temperature of the water isn’t high enough.

What coffee is best for percolator?

Using a percolator for brewing coffee, you need to give preference to whole coffee beans. For percolator, it is better to use freshly ground beans. Also, make sure it is very coarse.

Do you need a filter for a percolator?

It is not required, but it is better to use a filter as it can make your coffee more smooth and protect the basket from staining.

How much coffee do you put in a 30 cup percolator?

If you want to prepare a regular-strength coffee, 1¾ cups of ground coffee will be enough. In case, you want strong coffee, use 2 cups and for very strong brew – use 2½ of coffee.

Is percolated coffee better than drip coffee?

Using a drip coffee maker, you’ll get lighter coffee with a smoother flavor while percolator will brew you a good cup of very strong coffee. In other words, it depends on you which one do you prefer. Just choose the one you like the most or enjoy a cup of the best instant coffee and don’t worry about brewing it.


Coffee is an amazing drink with millions of fans around the world. There are lots of ways to make a cup of great coffee and a percolator is one of the oldest among them. It has its specifics as well as disadvantages but is also amazing. It just depends on you whether you prefer making your coffee with a percolator or not.

If you have still not found your favorite way to brew coffee, just give a percolator a try and may fall in love with it. We hope, with this guide, you’ll find your perfect percolator and brew some amazing coffee.

Photos from: marilyna /, PHOTOLOGY1971 /, StockWithMe / and belchonock /

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