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: I watched the video of a

The site you point to sells Moka Pots which are covered separately in the FAQ over here. The look similar but that is where the similarities end. Finally maybe I have an answer for why so many people say they love percolator coffee.

Once again a Percolator is not a Moka Pot or a Vacuum Pot. A percolator is that thing in the video and yes people still use them.

Perc is the best!!

Sorry to burst the anti-perc bubble, but I had a very expensive Krups machine that made awful coffee, and several other drip machines before that which fell into the "medium grade" price and quality range.

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I could never make good coffee until I got my Percolator at an antique dealer for $12. It offers the ultimate in strength control, and something about boiling it makes it absolutely smooth, with no sourness, and no bitterness.

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Let me ask you this... if boiling coffee is so bad, then why does Turkish coffee exist?

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Not to mention that my perky-pot is all enamel so there's absolutely NO chemical reaction with the coffee. Most other coffee tastes like burnt plastic or heavy metals to me.

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I think the people who come up with "rules" for making anything are bigoted and shortsighted. Maybe the "coffee rules" people have simply never learned to make coffee the right way in a percolator.

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Maybe the "coffee rules" are just marketing ploys by drip manufacturers to make us pay higher and higher prices for their awful machines when we don't need filters and their fancy machines after all.

Turkish coffee, was: Perc is the best

You said: Let me ask you this... if boiling coffee is so bad, then why does Turkish coffee exist?

My response (as someone who owns an ibrik and enjoys Turkish coffee): you don't actually boil coffee in the ibrik (cezve, Turkish coffee pot, whatever). The shape of the pot and the sugar that's usually added before brewing causes the coffee to foam up at about 70 - 85 C, which is much lower than true boiling. The low temperature is also why you can do the traditional "foam and settle" three times without getting a cup of bitter, astringent brew.

Finally, if you do actually try to boil coffee in an ibrik (i.e. at 100 C), you end up with a huge mess on your stovetop. That's what happened to me the first time I wasn't paying attention.

Drip Coffee is Whacked Like Crack (It's Time For The Percolator)

First off, Percolators were the first original way of brewing. Modern science has turned you into bigot into believing percolator coffee is bad. Second, i have asked friends and family members to what they prefer and they all have agreed to the perk... it is the ultimate. And last but not least it keeps the coffee warm enough that if u added milk it wont get cold.

Percolator Rules!

I decided to quit using a drip coffeemaker after being treated for lymphoma. Hot water on plastic parts could cause cancer. I puchased a stove-top percolator. Wow! What great flavor! Far superior to drip.

After a couple of years of this, I grew weary of the time and attention it required and bought an electric percolator. Same great flavor, quick and automatic. All stainless steel is an important plus. Cons? A little more time to clean up, but worth it. With stove-top, you must turn on medium flame, then when perking begins, reduce to low flame. You must watch glass top and stop when color is just right. The bad reputation may come from letting it go too long. A good automatic electric will solve that problem. The modern units work well.

Anyone who claims that a percolator is inferior to drip either does not have that much experience with them or is not being truthful.

Percolator Perks - We need a blind taste test comparision

My parents owned a percolator, as I am sure many others over the age of 30 recall. Believe me, Starbucks can't even compete with the aroma emitted from a percolator.

I would imagine that like automatic drip, coffee presses and espresso machines, there are some percolator designs that are better at what they do than others. My point being, that generalizations almost never do justice to the subject of coffee preparation. On the flip side of the coin, I fully accept the fact that coffee purists aren't going to embrace the percolator concept if only because the principles of operation are a turnoff. By the same token, however, I doubt many of the percolator detractors on this site have based their opinions on any recent first-hand experience. By contrast, the folks who are saying "perc is best" probably had a cup this morning. So who am I going to believe?

There is a certain nostalgic appeal to the percolator, which makes me want to buy one — especially in view of the fact that I have recently returned not one but FIVE automatic-drip coffee machines that did not satisfy my high expectations (despite the use of premium, freshly burr-ground coffee beans). Percolators also more elegant on the kitchen counter than the typical automatic-brew machine.

Here's another angle to take under consideration: On Amazon the reviews for automatic drip coffee makers are almost entirely negative across all brands/models — with few exceptions. When you see a positive review, much of the time it is written by someone who has only owned the product in question a few weeks or less. Those who actually take the time to use the product in question for a year or so are generally less satisfied. The percolator, by contrast, seemingly operates according to simpler principles that are less likely to vary wildly from brand to brand, or even unit to unit within the same model/brand.

Looking, for example, at the Faberware percolator reviews on Amazon, you don't see a love-hate relationship — it's mostly love. There's got to be something to this, people! Perhaps modern electric percolators aren't the same as yesteryear's four-hour-old burnt coffee from a diner or church kitchen? If the Amazon reviews are any indication, I predict that percolators will enjoy a comeback in the coming years. Like fashion, everything old is new again.

We all know that the true secret to a good cup is not only in fresh beans, but proper technique. It doesn't matter if you use a percolator or a French press — in the wrong hands, with the wrong beans and the wrong grind it will fail to impress. Percolators were developed before coffee drinking took on wine-like devotion/fanaticism. It's possible that those old memories of a bitterly strong brew were influenced not so much by the equipment but by the casual coffee consumers who operated them.

If the same folks who regularly buy coffee brewing equipment spent half as much time testing out or experimenting with percolators, I would expect a credible commentary on the pros and cons of a percolator. In the absence of any recent experience with percolators, however, I suspect what we are reading are mostly a rehash of the same old negative assumptions that we've been "taught" to believe by people who themselves haven't used or seen a percolator in the kitchen since the 1960s.

Of course, no comment to a post like this will settle the debate. What we need is a blind taste test — to include automatic drip, French press, etc. — to see if the same people who would otherwise avoid percolated coffee will maintain that bias when they no longer know from what mechanism the coffee they are sampling was brewed.

Percolated coffee may not be for everyone, but heck — last time I checked it was still a free country. Personally, until I try one I'm not going to dismiss the possibility that it might taste as good as the aroma I recall growing up.

Better than any of them

I have tried drip pots and other coffee makers.Sure,they are quicker and more efficient ways of making coffee,but I would rather wait a few more minutes for the great-tasting perk.I don't care what people say,it is the best.People usually don't use them any more but it is very nostalgic to listen to the coffee perking on the stove.You can also control how strong you want it.They are also good to have around when the electric goes off.I do have a perculator,but I can't find it.Some people don't know what they are missing.If you have one,keep it.

Percolators

I am obsessed with percolators ever since my boyfriends aunt introduced me to them. To me percolated coffee is the best coffee ever! I have a electric Delonghi retro style percolator and it makes a delightful cup of coffee when i have guests over. Everyone loves it! So i can't agree with what you wrote because percolated coffee is the best! Maybe your confused with stove top percolators, since those take a good watchful eye to make sure it doesn't over brew once it boils.

Percolators

I have been asking people lately if the way everybody drinks coffee nowadays (brewed) is different from percolated coffee, mostly because I still remember the amazing coffee my grandfather used to make on an old, dented, stovetop percolator. I was wondering if it was just childhood nostalgia...but I felt like I hadn't ever had coffee that good since. I think I am going to go out and find one!

Percolated Coffee

Submitted by PigeonMan

Perculated coffee always SMELLS SO GOOD as it is being brewed; but know this: What you are smelling you will not be tasting -- for the laws of physics prevent that volitile essence from being in both places at once!

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