Percolator coffee may sound old school, but it is a very reliable and delicious way to brew coffee. It is a simple system that provides a hearty cup of joe.
The best coffee for a percolator depends on a few factors. These are quite simple to understand and, once you do, you will have an absolutely delicious cup of coffee in your hands!
Let’s discover how coffee percolators work and how they can suit your everyday caffeine needs! If you are already super familiar with all things percolator coffee, please jump to the end of this article for the best coffee for a percolator that will completely improve your coffee brewing experience!
So, What Exactly is a Coffee Percolator?
A coffee percolator is no longer a common household term. But, it used to be! Coffee percolators were once mega kitchen staples. The automatic brewing process was a convenient addition to either a morning routine or party event.
The percolator works in a unique manner. To ‘percolate’ means to cause (a solvent, in this case, water) to pass through a permeable substance especially for extracting a soluble constituent. In more precise terms, the percolator extracts coffee by recirculating boiling water through the coffee grounds.
The percolator is set up in 3 main parts. There is a water chamber at the bottom closest to the heat source. Then, there is the perforated filter basket with a tube that will filter and circulated the coffee. Finally, an upper chamber on top that captures all the brewed coffee.
There are a couple of key factors to keep in mind when brewing percolator coffee. First, the size of your percolator does matter. This will estimate how much coffee and water you will need. Also, the longer the coffee boils and stays hot, the more intense the coffee will get. This must be regulated because this can lead to over-extracted coffee. This is the largest complaint about percolator coffee. But, with attention, coffee percolators can create a deliciously rich brew.
Brewing coffee with a percolator actually dates back to the 19th century! The first stovetop percolator was invented in France in 1819. Electric percolators arrived on the market in the 1920s, evolving into automatic versions by the 1940s. During this time, many households and businesses incorporated percolators into everyday life. It’s often large-format made it excellent for parties, events, and outdoor excursions.
What Differs Between Drip Coffee Makers and Coffee Percolators?
You may be wondering what makes a percolator different from drip coffee. And, why most people have a drip coffee maker and not a percolator.
A drip coffee maker automatically ‘drips’ nearly boiling water through coffee grounds. It, like the percolator, relies on gravitational feed to move the water through to the coffee. Yet, the drip coffee maker relies on the pressure of water vapor to push the ‘drip’ through the coffee. Percolators, on the other hand, rely on the intensity of boiling water to produce coffee. A drip coffee maker instead creates a slow, one-time extraction of the coffee grounds through a filter. This is why drip coffee is also known as filtered coffee.
This entire process primarily differs from a percolator in that drip coffee makers do not recirculate coffee in the brewing process. Percolators do recirculate the coffee, which sometimes leaves coffee grinds in the final brewed coffee.
Drip coffee makers did in fact replace most percolators for most people. Drip coffee makes offer a single extraction that tends to create a more consistent and properly extracted brew. Nonetheless, percolators create excellent coffee once you understand their process. They are a very popular accessory for several activities. Many adore bringing electric percolators on outdoor adventures, like camping and hiking. Percolators are also fantastic for events, as their kettle shape and large formats are easily accessible.
Types of Coffee Percolators
It is important to identify what sort of coffee percolators are out there. This will help you decide which best suits your coffee needs. There are only a few types, which are quite easy to understand. All the percolators contain the same 3 main parts.
This is the classic and original percolator. It requires to be heated on the stove, which makes brewing a little more variable. By this, we mean you must truly pay attention to the heat source. For example, do you have an electric or gas stove? This will matter as you must gauge how much heat you are applying to the percolator so that not to over-extract and/or burn your coffee.
A stovetop percolator has 4 key parts. There is the stem, the bottom, the filter basket with its cover, and the coffee pot lid. The filter basket is where you will place your freshly ground coffee beans.
The instructions are simple. You measure water equal to the number of cups of coffee you’d like to brew. This goes directly into the pot. Then, you add freshly ground coffee beans to the filter basket. Once you covered the filter basket and coffee pot, you can place it on the stove over medium heat. From there, you can manage how hot the water gets and how strong you would like your coffee.
Assessing the coffee’s strength is easy. The depth and density of your coffee will reveal how bold it is. You can also use your powerful sense of smell! If the coffee smells bitter or even burnt, then the water boiled for much too long. This leaves burnt and bitter coffee.
An electric percolator is just like its stovetop counterpart, but it requires no outside heat source. Electric percolators provide a faster and much more consistent robust pot of coffee. This is because it has a direct source of heat that acts immediately when you plug in the coffee pot.
Electric percolator makes it the perfect addition to any party, event, or meeting. It is also a great accessory for a trip, especially if you have room to pack it as well as a power source to get it running. Although many opt for outdoor percolators on camping trips, some choose electric percolators when there is a guaranteed power source in, for example, an RV! Electric percolators provide a more uniform and elegant brew.
This coffee maker is nearly identical to the stovetop percolator. The only difference is that many are modeled specifically to be used on outdoor stoves, grills, and campfires. This regards the materials used in constructing the coffee maker.
We must quickly mention the glorified moka pot. It is not exactly a percolator, but pretty similar and worth mentioning. The moka pot has 3 parts: a bottom chamber, filter with a tube, and upper chamber. While assembling a moka pot is quite similar to a stovetop percolator, it differs in that the moka pot only moves the coffee from bottom to top. The boiling water pushes vapor through the grinds to produce coffee in the upper chamber. Like the percolator, it creates a much more robust brew than drip coffee. Yet, the moka pot does not recirculate the coffee as a percolator does.
Let’s call a moka pot an ‘honorary percolator….!’
The Perfect Percolator Coffee
It is absolutely crucial to choose the right coffee for your percolator. As we learned, percolator coffee can over-extract and/or burn quickly. This does have to do with the type of coffee and the grind you chose.
The kind of roast is the first thing to consider. Percolators do best with something right in the middle. A medium roast will provide a well-bodied brew. A light roast coffee tends to be overwhelmed by the intense brewing process. A dark roast can make percolator coffee way too bitter. There are several medium roasts that will offer you a variety of flavor profiles so that you will never get bored with your coffee.
Of course, the grind always matters! To avoid excess coffee grinds in your coffee, a coarse to medium coarse grind is suggested. This also helps you avoid quick over-extraction.
Our Best Percolator Coffee Picks
To make matters simple, we organized a quick list of the best coffees for a percolator. These will provide satisfaction based entirely on the flavor profile you desire. Each is, of course, a medium roast and comes in whole bean format. We always recommend grinding your own beans for optimal flavor.
African Dark Gold Reserve Coffee is a reliable fair trade coffee for your percolator. It is simple, creamy, and chocolatey – what else could you want?
Organic Nepal Himalayan Mountains is an elegant coffee for those who desire more floral notes. Its smooth brown sugar finish makes it a delightful brew for all palates and occasions.
Yemen Harazi is a high altitude coffee grown in one of coffee’s birthplaces! It combines soft chocolate flavors with awakening caramel and citrus notes. It is silky and sweet, just like dessert.