Similar to the Moka Pot, but with just two chambers, this brewing method yields a slightly acrid, burnt tasting cup of coffee versus a condensed espresso-like shot. The Percolator came about around the likes and dislikes of its original inventor, Sir Benjamin Thompson. Thompson hated alcohol as well as tea, which caused him to seek a means in which to boil coffee. This would eventually be evolved into a pressure-cooker style of brewing coffee. It was this last inventor, a mid-nineteenth century farmer who hailed from the breadbasket of the United States, who patented the self-sustaining pot with its own heating element as well as the range or stovetop model.
The ideal coffee for a Percolator is usually a medium blend as lighter roasts tend to lose their flavor over time due to the continuous circulation of coffee throughout the chambers. Additionally, darker roasts grow more and more bitter as they traverse up the pump and then back down again into the lingering brew. What’s more, the grind on this medium blend needs to take on a seashell-like consistency with actual bits of bean still left to percolate.
What you'll need to make coffee in a Percolator
- Self-sustaining percolator Percolator with heating element (i.e., range, stove, or hotplate)
- Medium-blend coffee
- A quality burr coffee grinder (if using whole-beans)
- Hot Water (205-degrees Fahrenheit)
- Scales (recommended)
- Timer (recommended)
Step by step Guide - How To Make Coffee In a Percolator
Let's get brewing!
- Fill the bottom chamber with water, but do not fill so that the top chamber with the coffee grounds comes in contact with the below, cool water
- Grind beans quickly in either a coffee grinder (our favorites are listed here) or in a food processor as bits of coffee bean are best left intact for this brewing method
- Place the lid on the entire rig
- Set the kettle to boil or else place both chambers on the stove or range top
- Listen for the perking or bubbling sound, pour some brew into a cup, and reseat the device to continuously heat
⸙ Barista Tip: while the Percolator brewing method may draw sidelong glances or sneers due to its close association with church meetings and the like, the device can be a fun means in which to experiment with your (or our) favorite grinder to optimize for a seashell-like grind; using a food processor is also suitable and a fun take on the more traditional burr grinder method
⸙ Barista Tip: explore a variety of blended coffees with this method, especially those listed as medium for their flavor profiles
The Percolator brewing method may not be as recognized as the Moka Pot brewing method or the French press process, but there are nuances that can be explored around continuously heating and reheating coffee on a range or stovetop.
Kate began her professional career in the US Air Force. She rediscovered her calling, however, through freelance consulting, project management, and writing. She is a Lean Six Sigma consultant and has worked for various organizations such as GE and Amazon, solving challenging operational bottlenecks. When she is not doing any of the above, she calls Glasgow home (for now) and continues to investigate the latest and greatest in caffeine throughout the world at CoffeeGrindGuru. Follow her journey online and feel free to drop her a note, question, or suggestion!