Percolator

NOTE: There is a fair amount of disagreement on this article. For opposing views please take a look at the comments and make your own decision based on what you like.

Percolators violate most of the natural laws about brewing coffee.
o Don't over extract the oils and flavor. Percolators work by taking coffee and reheating it and throwing it over the grounds over and over and over again.

o Never reheat/boil coffee. This destroys the flavor. For best flavor, boil the water, pass it over the grounds and retain the heat. Don't reheat it.

Violating these rules may not sound like much, but these are about the only rules there are. The effect of a percolator is to keep passing boiling water/coffee over the grounds until there is no flavor left and the flavor in the coffee is so dead that it's a worthless waste.

There seems to be a great deal of misunderstanding about the re-boiling of already brewed coffee.

About half way through this video from "Coffee brewers institute" (1961) there is a good example of the boiling and re-brewing over and over again of coffee in a percolator. At approximately the 7 minute 40 second mark they show a glass percolator. If you look in the bottom half you will see already brewed coffee. The already brewed coffee is boiling and being pushed back over the grounds. That's a pretty good visual demonstration of what is happening.

Reading several comments some seem to be people who are not talking about a percolator but a vacuum pot or a moka pot.

If you have a brewer that pushes water up into a second (usually upper) chamber by steam and holds the water in the upper chamber during brewing then pulls it back via vacuum into the lower changer after brewing that's not a percolator. That is a vacuum pot which is described over here. Vacuum pot coffee also happens to be one of my favorite ways to have coffee.

A moka pot unlike a vacuum pot will push the water through the grounds and into an upper chamber that it is served from. I realize that in a few cases manufacturers have chosen to add the word percolator to the description of their moka pots. Strictly speaking this is not any more correct than calling a moka pot an espresso maker which is another common marketing gimmick for moka pots.

To further clarify (I hope) I am going to add a "typical" picture of each of the three confused types of coffee makers:

Ultimately the preference of coffee makers comes down to personal preference. I'll go further to say most people will probably prefer whatever they are accustomed to so if you grew up on perc pots you may always prefer them even if they have inherent problems. There is nothing wrong with that. You won’t get the “best” cup of coffee as defined by coffee snobs like myself but make yourself happy. Having said that if you are looking for your first coffee pot or your first non-drip coffee pot I would encourage you to skip the perc pot. If budget is a concern a French Press is excellent. If budget is less of a concern you can get a good manual Vacuum pot for a little more than an electric perc pot.

If you have already tried the other methods and want to try something new give a perc pot a try. They are not expensive so you won’t be out a lot of money. If you end up loving perc above all else then by all means celebrate your discovery of the way that is right for you.

Comments

RE Coffee tastes

I absolutely love the taste of coffee from my Percolator, As do my husband and a lot of my friends. People have different tastes and it is complete snobbery to tell people they should only make coffee a certain way. The same as the way people have their Tea, Food etc. It is more important for everyone to enjoy their coffee than to make it a different way because so called experts say we should. I know what i like and thats good enough for me.

Cafestol and vacuum brewing

Will vacuum brewing reduce cafestol in coffee? When I make coffee in my vacuum brewer, it tastes less oily than coffee made in my percolator, so I'm wondering if it's effectively reducing the amount of cafestol. (fwiw, I have a Yama vacuum brewer)...

RE:Cafestol and vacuum brewing

If you are using the Yama's cloth filters you are esentially filtering the coffee. My understanding is that cafestol is removed in filtered coffee so this would make sense. If you have replaced the cloth filter with a glass rod filter that may be another story.
 

percolator debate

I have heard from "Coffee Experts" for years, "Do not percolate coffee". Well there is alot of "science" that is wrong!
I have one thing to say about this debate. Taste! My mother has probably sold more perolaters than any one person I have ever heard of. People visit, and comment on how good her coffee is, not knowing anything about method, brand, ect. She begans telling about measuring coffee, brand, and so on. They return after followiing all instructions saying, their coffee is still inferior to hers. She says, there's only one thing left the percolator! They purchase one and "Olay" great coffee!

Everyone in my family, and countless friends have switched to percolators. The reason the market has "beat these down" for so long is that coffee is one of the largest traded comodities in the world today and pecolators use "one half" the coffee of other methods! Trust me I have tried dozens of drip makers and there aren't any that compare to a good pecolator!

Percolator

I agree with this pro perc opinion and never thought of the bureaucracy angle. Now my taste buds are justified. I have a very keen palette and can distinguish differences in flavor and my 2 favorite methods are french press and percolator. I had an old McCormic ceramic one and would often roast it over a campfire. Neighbors would come faithfully every evening to get what they called the best coffee ever. They even liked it better thiers when i used their brand.

Percolators

I agree. I find the flavor of percolator coffee to be smoother and just better. We visited a coffee farmer in Hawaii once and he asked us how we brewed our daily coffee. When told we were using a brand name maker, he insisted we switch to a percolator. He said he wouldn't drink coffee made any other way. We have tried it and agree, it is better. No filters to throw away either.

For some people the stronger

For some people the stronger the flavour of the coffee the more they will like it and perculating gives the strongest flavour. Saying this is better than that is a matter of taste and reminds me of the fact most people including wine snobs cannot tell the difference between a good English wine by Nyetimber and Champagne. The difference is we can easily tell the difference in brewing methods during a blind coffee tasting test, but the similarity is the wine "experts" (snobs) clearly talk a lot of rubbish when they cannot blindly tell the difference between quality English wine and Champagne.

So coffee snobs can moronically sit there and say their method is the best because it preserves the subtle flavour, etc, etc until their faces turn blue but the truth is bluntly that they like their method best because either they prefer the taste, or someone they admired (often due to simple arrogance in both admirer and admired) said it was better.

Something that is very important and should be considered is that coffee contains cafestol, a hydrocarbon which is one of the most potent dietary (if not THE most potent) cholesterol raising agent known to man. It works by disrupting genes in the liver that regulate cholesterol. The ONLY common brewing method which remove the cafestol (and removing it is a good thing) is to use filter PAPERS (not a permanent filter, it is too course) which removes the oils and therefore the cafestol.

So perhaps we should stop being so snobby about drip filtered coffee since it's the healthy way to go?

Personally I brew most of my coffee Scandanavian style (I know, it's an acquiried taste :P), which contains the most cafestol along with French press coffee. Oops. But then again I also had fried bread, eggs and sausages for breakfast and if you would never dream of eating something so artery clogging you should only drink paper filtered coffee.

Google cafestol if you don't take my word for it (and you should not take any random commenters word for anything). And you thought that decaf with all the natural oils was healthy! Incidently there is a fair amount of evidence people who drink decaf have a higher heart disease risk than those who don't. Isn't science ironic ;)

perk papers

There are paper filters for percolators. As far as I know there are 2 types: disks and paper packets.
I've never tried the packet type but I can say that those little paper disks do a good job of keeping grounds out of my coffee. I imagine they would help reduce the cafestol content as well.

Cafestol removed?

If cafestol can be removed by coffee filters, could it be removed from percolated coffee if it was poured through a paper filter into the cup after it it brewed?

I love all the coffee

I love all the coffee specials, for example today I tried banana flavoured frappe, and yesterday chocolate flavoured:D . But I don't know if I'd know to do things like that by myself, I prefer going to nice coffee shops and trying them.

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