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How long to perk coffee for a tasty coffee? You can percolate (perk) coffee for up to 10 minutes, but you can experiment to suit your taste. But what is percolated coffee and how do you make it?
We look at what percolated coffee is, how to make percolated coffee, and what taste you may expect.
Modern percolators have been around since 1889 and are still reliable for making coffee.
The two basic types of percolators are based on their energy supply – electrical or stovetop. Stovetop percolators are good for electrical coils, induction, gas, or rustic campfire. Electric percolators are good for automatic shut-off, so you don’t percolate coffee for too long.
How does a percolator work?
The first US patent for a coffee percolator was issued to James Nason of Franklin, Massachusetts, in 1865. However, the modern version of the percolator was invented in 1819 by Hanson Goodrich an Illinois farmer.
Read: Coffee percolator
A coffee percolator consists of a pot with a small chamber at the bottom, which is placed close to the heat source. A vertical tube (called a stem) leads from this chamber to the top of the percolator. A perforated basket containing the coffee is just at the upper end of this tube.
Hot water rises due to the heat source and drips into the coffee basket. This ‘percolates’ the coffee.
Please note that some people think that a Moka Pot is a percolator but it isn’t.
It is true that a Moka Pot is superficially similar to a percolator, but it is not a percolator.
Directions for Making Percolated Coffee
Clean the percolator before starting. Any leftover coffee grounds can affect the flavor of the new batch.
STEP 1. Prepare and Fill The Percolator
1. Warm the percolator with hot tap water, then remove the water after a minute or two.
2. Grind your favorite coffee to a coarse ground or use pre-ground coffee
3. Add water to the percolator’s reservoir. You can use about two cups of water per cup of coffee that you want to make.
4 Put the coffee grinds into the percolator basket. Use about one tablespoon (17 g) of coarse ground coffee to make about 250 ml of medium to strong coffee. This is water to coffee ratio of 250/17 or 15:1. However, you can adjust the ratio to suit your taste. Place the basket and stem into the percolator.
Optional. If you like, add filter paper to the bottom of the basket to stop the coffee grinds from passing through the small holes in the filter.
STEP 2. Heat and Perk
1. Heat your percolator by whatever method you prefer
2. As the water begins to boil, it moves through the stem and drips into the coffee bed. This initial wetting of the coffee grinds in the basket could be considered the ‘bloom’ that we often want to see in filtered coffee.
3. As the water boils you see the familiar sight and sound of bubbling water (and later brewed coffee) in the top clear glass knob – this is the ‘perk’! Not all percolators have this clear glass knob, which is a shame because watching and listening to the ‘perk’ is part of the experience of making percolated coffee.
4. Percolate (perk) coffee for about 7 to 10 minutes. If you perk for longer, you will get a stronger-tasting and bitter coffee. Some electrical percolators may cut off after a certain time to stop the brew.
STEP 3. Enjoy
Take the percolator off the heat and leave it to cool for a few minutes. This also gives time for any coffee grounds which pass through the basket to settle to the bottom of the percolator before drinking (if you didn’t use a filter).
In some percolators, you can pour with the basket in place but in others, it may be better to remove the basket and pour. Trouble is that it can be hot!
Now sit back and enjoy your percolated cup of coffee!
Best Percolators to Buy
Here are some of the best percolators to buy and videos on each.
You can also check out our post – Best Coffee Percolator of 2020: Top 5 Recommendations.
Stovetop Coffee Percolator
Our favorite stovetop percolator is the Farberware 47053 Classic Stainless Steel Yosemite 12-Cup Coffee Percolator.
Farberware 47053 Classic Stainless Steel Yosemite 12-Cup Coffee Percolator, 12 Cup Coffee Maker, Silver
This is a fantastic stovetop percolator with over 25,000 4 to 5-star ratings on Amazon.
How to Make Stovetop Percolated Coffee?
I liked the following YouTube video below showing you how to make percolated coffee with a stovetop coffee maker. This is a fun and cheeky family video that shows you have to make percolated coffee ‘sans’ electricity.
Electric Coffee Percolator.
Capresso 12 Cup Perk Coffee Maker, Stainless Steel
We included this percolator because it is reasonably priced and an Amazon Choice product. We also found a good fun YouTube video about the Capresso.
I laughed when I watched the lady “walk the perk!” You gotta see the video to know what I mean.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long to perk coffee?
Percolate (perk) your coffee for seven to ten minutes to get the best flavor.
How much coffee do you put in a percolator?
Use about one tablespoon (17 g) of coarse ground coffee to make about 250 ml of medium to strong coffee. However, you can experiment to suit your taste.
Do percolators make good coffee?
A ‘good coffee’ is a coffee that suits your taste. You don’t need to follow any coffee guru or connoisseur.
However, percolators can overheat coffee resulting in bitter and burnt flavors. If a percolator is left for too long, you end up with a lot of bad-tasting coffee.
A percolator is just fine if you like slightly bitter coffee to give you that coffee boost and you are not concerned with delicate and complex flavors.
Do percolators use filters?
Percolators have a metal filter to keep out the coarse ground coffee. However, fine ground coffee will go through the metal filter. Percolators don’t use paper or cloth filters, so they do not make the oil-free coffee you find in a filter coffee maker such as pour-over. However, some people like to place paper filters on the base of the filter basket to filter out even more coffee grinds and oils.
How to Clean a Percolator?
Wash your percolator with soapy water immediately after use. The soap clears any oil or residue from the brew and prevents build-up in your percolator.
You can also try an environmentally favorable method that uses baking soda and vinegar. This is a two-step system explained by the YouTube video below.
Step 1. Add about one-half cup of baking soda to the percolator with some added to the top basket and the rest added to water inside your percolator. Perk for about 7 to 10 minutes and then rinse thoroughly.
Step 2. Add about a half cup of white vinegar into the percolator. Perk for about 7 to 10 minutes and then rinse thoroughly.
A clean coffee maker produces the best brew. Cleaning may be tedious, but necessary to ensure you get the best tasting coffee for your brew. I’ve known some people to keep their stovetop coffee maker almost ‘black’ because they claim it adds character to the brew. It isn’t for me but if it suits you then who am I to say anything?
Why is my percolator coffee weak?
If your percolator coffee is weak, then not enough coarse ground coffee was added to the basket.
You need coarse ground coffee for a percolator, but if it is too coarse, the coffee will be under-extracted. This means you will not be extracting the best flavors from the coffee. If the ground is too fine, it will likely clog the basket and contaminate your brew with undissolved coffee grounds. You could be spitting out coffee grounds whilst you drink your coffee!
Can I use regular ground coffee in a percolator?
Your ‘regular’ coffee is whatever you like and usually drink. However, a percolator needs coarse ground coffee, so make sure that your ‘regular’ coffee is coarse ground.
How do you know when percolator coffee is done?
It will be done if you brew percolated coffee for 7 to 10 minutes. However, you can experiment with the brew time to create a taste that suits you.
Do you need a filter for a percolator?
The percolator basket is a metal filter. However, some people prefer to put a paper filter in the basket to catch fine grinds and prevent coffee grinds from entering the brew. This can produce a clearer coffee. The filter paper may also bind any coffee oils and affect the taste and mouthfeel of the coffee.
Which is better, stovetop or electric percolator?
You use a percolator that is better for you. An electric percolator is usually automated and shuts off after percolating.
A stovetop percolator is good when you don’t have electricity or when you want to go camping (without electricity) and is portable.
Percolator vs Other Coffee Brewing Methods
Is percolator coffee better than drip coffee, pour-over coffee, espresso coffee, Aeropress coffee, or French press coffee?
Once again, a coffee brewing method is whatever is better for you and suits your taste.
Drip coffee and pour-over coffee may suit you better if you prefer lighter, complex coffee flavors.
You get even more complex flavors and mouthfeel from espresso, Aeropress, and French press coffee makers.
Percolator coffee is slightly more bitter and less complex than other brewing methods.
However, it is a good way to give you that morning boost before you start your day.