Percolators - for your favourite coffee

Percolator coffee pots

What is it

A percolator is one of many devices available for making freshly ground coffee into the infusion that most of us like so much.

These simple to use jug devices are available in two variations ...

  1. Stove top, which as the name suggests do need a stove or hob of some description to sit on in order to heat the water / coffee infusion within it.
  2. Electrically operated with a built in heating element requiring no external heating source.

Other than the differences mentioned above, both types operate in exactly the same way.

It has to be said that many folk, mistakenly, refer to almost any coffee maker as a percolator.

For example espresso pots are often called so, as are the plunger type coffee pots (French press).

I have even heard some coffee philistine friend describe the filter coffee machine as one of these.

It has to be said and I am doing just that ... there is only one true percolator.

percolator stovetop coffee makers

The unit consists of a just a few simple parts.

  1. A jug.
  2. A hollow stem tube.
  3. A perforated coffee basket and top cover.
  4. A lid with a see through knob.

When the water contained in the jug part of the percolator is heated it is forced up the hollow stem.

At the top it exits the tube and cascades through the coffee basket's upper filter plate passing through the coffee grind in the basket.

The resulting liquor then exits the basket under gravity, falling back into the jug where it started moments earlier.

It does this over and over, gaining strength and flavour on each cycle as it extracts more natural oils from the ground coffee.

Once the heat source is removed, at the end of the correct brewing period it is ready to be enjoyed.

percolator stovetop coffee maker assembly

So why do people love it so?

Elementary my dear Watson, as Holmes may have said; it is a simple device to use.

  1. It requires no great effort or attention, other than keeping an eye on the length of percolating time.
  2. It needs no servicing or expensive spare part replacement.
  3. It just needs washing with soap and water after use.

To top it all, if used correctly, it produces a large volume fresh, piping hot, aromatic and flavourful coffee in about 10-12 minutes, time after time, after time.

If the above ticks all your boxes then look no further (many haven't) than the good old fashioned traditional 'perc', as it is affectionately called.

You may well ask what is the reason some people dislike it so much?

The simple answer is misunderstanding the correct way of using the pot.

They are often left to brew for excessively long periods and equally as bad, the brewed coffee is just left to stand for hours on end.

As this brewing method produces a large volume of coffee, there is also a tendency by some to leave the leftover amount to be reheated from cold, sometime afterwards.

In all three cases the natural oils in the coffee are over-exposed and over-heated giving the stewed / bitter flavour we all dislike.

You now see why it really is no great surprise that, through no fault of its own, the humble percolator suffers such an ill reputation.

Here then is some advice on how to use a percolator correctly and avoid disappointment ...

  1. Remove the lid and hollow stem tubed coffee basket assembly from the pot.
  2. Fill the jug with appropriate number of cups of cold water, between the minimum and maximum limits of the pot which are normally marked inside.
  3. Replace the hollow stem tubed coffee basket assembly.
  4. Place approximately 7g of coarse ground coffee per cup in the basket.
  5. Replace the lid.
  6. To heat the water and start the brewing process either place the stove top pot on a stove or if electrically operated, simply plug in the appliance into a nearby electrical socket.
  7. Approximately 10-12 minutes later the resulting liquor should be ready to drink.
  8. Either remove from the stove or unplug your percolator, whichever is appropriate.
  9. Pour and enjoy.

Always purchase the freshest pure Arabica bean stock that pleases your palate.

When ground ensure that it is done correctly for your method of brewing.

Store according to guide below:

  1. Ground coffee: one week, providing it is kept sealed and in a cool spot, never in a refrigerator, due to it being a damp atmosphere. Four weeks if frozen, removing only the amount to be used. Use straight from frozen, I stress do not defrost.
  2. Beans: About two weeks if kept in a sealed storage container. Six weeks if frozen, removing only the amount to be used. Use straight from frozen, once again, I stress do not defrost.
  3. Treat fresh coffee with the same care as you would any other fresh produce.
  4. Remember by following our guide and using approximately 7g of coffee per cup, irrespective of the coffee and brewing method used, will give you the best result.
  5. Warm the pot prior to use, irrespective of the method of brewing.
  6. Only pour on water just off the boil, i.e. boil and allow to settle for 30 seconds so as not to scald the coffee's natural oils.
  7. Consume within 30 minutes of brewing; discard any left over and never reheat.
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