Coffee Percolator Guide

– Best Coffee Percolator Reviews

What is a Coffee Percolator?  A coffee percolator is a pot that brews coffee by continuously pouring heated water over coffee grounds.  The water, near boiling in temperature, is pumped up through a tube and poured over the coffee grounds multiple times until the desired flavor, color tone, and strength is reached.

A typical percolator has three parts: a metal pot, a metal basket to hold the coffee grounds, and a long tube, known as a pump stem.  The longer the grounds are left in the water, the stronger the coffee becomes.


electric coffee percolatorThe coffee percolator was one of the original ways created to brew coffee. It could be found in most homes up until the 1970s when other methods of coffee brewing entered the market.  Today, it has largely been replaced by other coffee brewing technologies with the electric drip coffee maker having arguably been the most popular coffee technology in the home over the last 20 years.

How to use

A coffee percolator brews coffee by continuously passing hot water over coffee grounds via a process known as percolation. A typical percolator consists of a metal pot, often made from aluminum, a metal basket to hold the coffee grounds, and a long tube, known as a pump stem, that sits in the middle of the pot and supports the coffee basket. The pot sits on a stovetop or may have an electrically heated base.

When the water in a percolator reaches the boiling point, it travels up the pump stem and is directed onto the coffee grounds. The water will seep through the grounds and fall back into the bottom of the pot. This process continues over and over. There is no percolator coffee filters. As the temperature of the coffee approaches the boiling point, a distinctive perking sound will be emitted from the pot. This means the coffee is ready for drinking.

Types of Percolators

There are primarily two types on the market today and we highlight the best electric coffee percolator, best stovetop percolator and best camping percolator.

Electric Percolator

The first is an Electric Coffee Percolator.  This type of percolator automates the process, and essentially completes everything for you.  The machine controls the water temperature, and the brewing time.  Add the grounds, add the water, push the button to begin the process, and you’re done!

Stove Top Percolator

The second type of percolator is a Stove Top Coffee Percolator.  More authentic, some would say this type of brewing method is the best there is.  Basic in their operation, this variation is best for outdoor activity.  Because stove top percolators do not require power, but only a heat source, they are wonderful additions to any camping/fishing/hiking/cycling kit.  Durable and generally lightweight, they provide an easy process for curing your caffeine withdrawal. Read more about the Best Camping Coffee Percolator. For aesthetic purposes, most are stainless steel coffee percolator.

Drip Coffee Maker Versus Coffee Percolator

There are a variety of coffee brewing technologies on the market, and every seasoned coffee drinker has their chosen favorite that they remain hopelessly devoted to.  Some prefer the speed and ease of the Drip Coffee Makers.  Traditionalists feel that the art of the brew, and the meticulous steps involved, take precedence over speed.

Drip Coffee Maker

Similar to a percolator, a drip coffee maker brews coffee by pouring heated water over ground coffee inside a filter basket.  But unlike percolators, the water only passes through the coffee grounds once.  The water is sucked up through a heated pipe, heating the water as it passes through.  Then it meets the coffee beans, draws the flavor, and deposits into a heated carafe or perhaps a mug.  Simple.  Efficient.  Speedy.  Automated.  But some would say….cheating!

Standard perception says that coffee made via drip coffee maker is smoother and less bitter because the process only includes one pass through the coffee grounds.  Drip coffee makers are fairly easy to clean.  They require maintenance generally every 30-45 days.  A mixture of water and baking soda or vinegar run through the machine once, followed by a few rounds of pure water will do the trick.

French Press

A French press is a simple coffee brewing apparatus that includes only a pot and a plunger. Ground coffee goes in the heated water, and is left there until the desired strength of the coffee is reached.  Then the plunger is depressed, pushing the coffee grounds to the bottom of the pot while the coffee remains on top, ready to be served.  One downside to a French Press is that it rarely, if ever, comes with a heating apparatus to maintain heat to the brewed coffee.  Various sizes of pots are available.  The most common French Press is a Bodum.  It is so common that the brand name “Bodum” has become synonymous with French Press; which is the ultimate compliment to any brand.

A coffee percolator brews coffee at higher temperatures than a drip coffee maker. This higher temperature, coupled with the recirculation of the brewed coffee through the grounds multiple times, results in a brew that is strong and sometimes bitter due to over extraction. The bitterness is amplified if the brewed coffee is left on the heat too long.

Many coffee drinkers have abandoned the percolator because it produces such a strong brew. But, there are still plenty of percolator enthusiasts that love the strong, more robust flavor that it offers.

Read more about the pros and cons of a French Press vs Coffee Percolator via eHow.