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.

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.

108 thoughts on “Percolator”

  1. I love the percolator

    I have never made better tasting coffee than when I let it brew in the percolator for 10 mins. My Mr. Coffee broke and I had to resort to this method, and I cannot go back.

    1. Can’t beat a percolator

      A friend of mine bought me a vintage “Handy Hannah” electric percolator to match my stainless steel kitchen and the coffee from it far surpasses anything that ever came from my automatic drip coffeemakers. One secret is to remove the coffee basket and the grounds as soon as the coffee is brewed. The flavor of the coffee is unbeatable! If and when this 60’s-era appliance quits working, I’ll go right to the store and buy another one! Now any coffee from a “Mr. Coffee”-type machine tastes like scorched plastic to me.

      1. I cringe

        Every time I see this topic commented on I cringe because I know it will be another perc lover extolling the virtues of perc coffee. Typically I do not respond but this particular message made me think about something. The comparison being made between a perc pot and a cheapo coffee pot from the discount store may very well give the edge to the perc pot. I honestly have not had perc coffee in a very long time so I can’t remember the taste at all.

        So if you are comparing a perc pot to a cheap drip pot the perc may very well come out better. On the other hand everything about perc pots is wrong when it comes to making really excellent coffee. See my comments in the main article for why. But everything in a cheapo drip coffee pot is also wrong for excellent coffee. If you want excellent coffee from a drip pot you can’t buy the cheapest thing on the shelf at the discount store. At the same time the most expensive machine may also make lousy coffee. Check the reviews or even better buy from a store that will allow you to try the product in store or has a liberal return policy. The biggest problem with drip pots is that they just don’t get hot enough. Some also brew too fast or too slow. See my comments on drip pots for some of the reasoning on why many drip machines are horrible. If you want excellent coffee from a cheap coffee maker the press pot is a good choice but you do give up automation.

        In conclusion yes a perc pot may be better than a cheap drip coffee maker but the cheap coffee maker makes lousy coffee also. If you want cheap good coffee try a press pot. If you want good and convenience buy a good drip pot. For some people a perc may be a reasonable coffee maker for the price. But if you are paying $10+ per pound for coffee (absolute low end of what I have seen “gourmet” coffee sold for in the states) doesn’t it make sense to go ahead and spend a few dollars on a coffee maker that can get everything good the bean has to offer? A cheap drip pot will fall short of this. The higher temperatures which can pull more of the flavorful oils from coffee may very well be a reason that many people like perc pots.

        1. not to flame, so you’re

          not to flame, so you’re going back on your original statement about which type of coffee brewing is better. If you say there are higher-end drip models that produce better tasting coffee than percolators then name some. Substantiate those claims please. When I went to college years ago I had a drip in my room and it was the worst thing. Not even tryin to compare it to perc’d coffee at home, it was just so bitter and nasty-everytime, no matter how well i cleaned it. I drank it…. but after I graduated I never used it again. I agree with earlier posts, if you don’t like perc coffee, odds are it’s because you’re brewing it wrong. I don’t think the same can be said for drip because they just don’t have the various brewing varibles.

          1. not flamed

            The Technivorm Electric Drip Coffee Brewers is supposed to be an excellent electric drip pot. It’s probably the best on the market. I use a Capresso MT 500. It’s a decent coffee maker. My mayor disappointment is that it does not get the water quiet as hot as it should, but it’s better than most. I have had good luck with Braun in the past with the same complaint about the temperature. There are also a number of drip coffee pot reviews available over at CoffeeGeek.

            One other thing I should mention is that I use a permanent gold filter not a paper filter. That can make a big difference. Paper will trap some of the coffee oils. Permanent filters do not trap anything except most of the grounds. I also clean my coffee pot on a regular basis. A dirty pot no mater how expensive or how good will still make bad coffee. Think of it this way. Would you make dinner in a pot that had not been washed in months (not withstanding cast iron)? Same basic concept holds true for a coffee pot.

            In my opinion there are a number of things that can and do go wrong in drip coffee pots but the most important problem is the temperature of the brew. Many if not most low end coffee pots and some of the high end units brew at a very low temperature. I have measured 135 – 140 degrees Fahrenheit at the brewhead. This low temperature will not make good coffee. I may have mentioned this before but I think this is one reason that some people love perked coffee. It’s hot.

            If you are looking for a cheap, but good, coffee prep method I recommend a press pot. If you are looking for the best coffee possible I recommend a vacuum coffee maker. If you are looking for the absolute minimum trouble in preparation drip is my recommendation.

            I also think that to some extent how important the coffee maker is depends on the beans. If you are brewing coffee that comes pre-ground in a can chances are the brew method is the least of the taste issues.

          2. Technivorm Coffee Brewer

            Daniel,

            I recently learned of Technivorm and it sounds very good. I don’t live in usual circumstances- in the Flatirons near Boulder, Colorado at an altitude of 7500 feet. Water boiis at 198.5° F. Consequently French presses make a very vapid brew. Ten minutes in a percolator yields fairly decent Mexican style coffee. Mostly I use a 12 cup Gevalia (“give away”) drip maker. I can’t find a maker’s mark, but it does brew a good cup. But always seeking something better the Technivorm caught my eye. I would like to hear from those who have actually used the Technivorm and in what circumstances. Thanks.

            Coyote

          3. perc coffee smells good. it

            perc coffee smells good. it continually boils coffee and passes boiled coffee through grounds over and over again. the grounds are coarse so they can hopefully stand up to this. the vacuum pot prevents this. drip coffee is not the answer. the bodum, i believe, is the way to do it. that, or an old fashioned espresso stovetop. it has been noted previously: people who drink black coffee and have the ability to discern taste do not prefer percolator coffee. typical americans who spend their lives in mall food courts eating horrible food, getting bad perms and then driving home to watch rented movies and eat more bad food kill their coffee with milk (half and half and cream in some places) and a ton of sugar anyway. who cares what they drink? these are the same people who favor syrupy disgusting flavored coffee. bleah.

          4. perco-fection

            A percolator forces water jsut below the boiling point up through the tube. The water cools somewhat before it reaches the coffee, to around 192ºF or so…an almost ideal temperature. The brewed cofee is quite a bit warmer than the cool water below, and will tend to stay in a layer close to the top, only gradually ‘tendrilling’ down as it cools.

            Inevitably, as we get close to the end of the process, some of the coffee will be passed through the already wet grounds. The actual percolation stops when the source water from the bottom of the pot reaches the boiling point.

            Now the key to a good cup of perc: The coffee must be reduced in temparature, and the grounds removed IMMEDIATELY when the percolating stops. You do NOT want those last few drops of brew (with all the nasty free acids) to drain into the pot of coffee, nor do you want to hold the coffee much over 180ºF (or below160º).

            The same holds true for your drip machines…keep those last few drops out of the pot, and your brew will be infinitely better!

            You ARE wiping the area above the basket down after every pot, aren’t you?

            In my restaurant days, I ran a chain unit that consistently won awards for ‘best coffee’…and we did it with a middle-of-the-road commercial blend…the secret was keeping the machine clean, and keeping those last few drops out.

          5. RE:perco-fection

            You do make a good point that I probably do not stress as much as I should throughout the FAQ. Cleanliness is crucial. If you have old rancid oils hanging around you will not make good coffee regardless of the beans or the prep method.

            The method you describes sounds like not perc pot I have seen. Interesting. So and I understanding correctly that in your perc pot the water that has hit the coffee does not come back down and mix with the fresh water until after the brewing method? That’s how a vacuum pot works but not my understanding of how a percolator works. A percolator usually dumps water on the grounds and then said water mixes back with the clean water to be heater (boiler) over and over again. 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.

          6. There are two basic types of percolato

            “There are two basic types of percolator: the first forces boiling water under pressure through the grounds into a separate chamber, while the second continually cycles the boiling brew through the grounds using gravity until the required strength is reached.”
            quote -> http://www.araazzurro.ca/about_coffee.aspx

            so everybody is right…

            the first type is delicious, the second less….

            I love my perculator

          7. RE: There are two basic types of percolato

            That is an interesting comment. I have never considered a Moka Pot to be a percolator. If you want to call a Moka a percolator then sure a perc could make good coffee. Personally I prefer to make a distinction.

          8. I am confused by the heat

            I am confused by the heat issue. It sounds like everyone is saying the really hot temps like 180 degrees is good. However, I went to the Technivorm website and all of their coffee makers says this:
            “brewing temperature between 92-96°/ keeping temperature between 80°-85° meeting the requirements of the ECBC/SCAE/SCAA ”
            What exactly is this, and why does it seem to be such a low temp?

          9. RE: I am confused by the heat

            Technivorm is undoubtedly discussing temperature in Celsius. 92 degree Celsius = 197.6 degree Fahrenheit. 180 degrees Fahrenheit is too low for brewing. Se my section on coffee temperature.

          10. If Percolators brew below boiling but around 200F, THEN…. 🙂

            I have not tried percolated coffee (yet) and so I cannot comment on the flavor (I’ve got a French Press, a drip maker, a pump espresso machine and a turkish coffee pot). But I do find several faults with the premise of the article and have at least one point to offer in favor of the percolator. First of all, if what I’ve been reading is true, the percolator does NOT boil the coffee and IF that is true, then the basic premise of what is wrong with percolated coffee is just plain wrong.

            Secondly, IF the coffee really is being brewed around 200 degrees Fahrenheit give or take a few degrees, then the percolator has a MAJOR selling point over ALL drip makers (I have yet to see drip maker that operates much above 165 degrees Fahrenheit). As anyone who knows anything about the French Press, the reason most people believe the coffee it produces tastes better than a drip maker is that it is brewing it at the correct temperature and drip makers do NOT do this. So IF the percolator is brewing at the correct temperature then that would explain why it tastes better. The fact that already brewed coffee is being recirculated through the grounds is MEANINGLESS. Yes, meaningless because the SAME THING can be technically said of a French Press through convection currents and you don’t see any coffee snobs ‘dissing’ the French Press. The key in both cases (and of Turkish coffee as well) that the water remains JUST BELOW the boiling point. You will only get ‘burnt’ or ‘scorched’ coffee if actual boiling water is coming into contact with the coffee grounds.

            Given all of what I’ve read, I must admit my interest in TRYING percolated coffee has been sufficiently piqued that I’m planning on buying a Presto Percolator just to try it out for myself. In the end, TASTE is what actually matters and I couldn’t care less what others think. An opinion is just an opinion and all tastes fall into that category in the end. If you prefer percolated or turkish or espresso, who cares so long as YOU enjoy it? I hate snobbery even though I love quality food and drink. What tastes best with cream and sugar isn’t neccessarily the same as what tastes best with flavored creamers and what tastes best black. Sometimes you can be in the mood for a certain taste as well. For example, I like steak, but I like hamburgers too. They are not mutually exclusive despite both being different cuts of beef.

          11. RE: If Percolators brew below boiling but around 200F, THEN….

            Most of your comments are correct of vacuum coffee makers but not necessarily percolators. Perc pots warm the water in the bottom area and then push warm (but not boiling) coffee into the top area. This is similar to a vacuum pot or a Moka pot. The difference with a perc pot comes in next. A perc pot allows the water to flow back down into the bottom reservoir. As it falls through it goes threw the grounds much like a drip pot. Once the brewed coffee falls down it starts to boil. That is where the boiling comes in. If you don’t believe me watch the video of a perc pot in action. It is mentioned in paragraph five of the main article. The boiling of brewed coffee is the real problem here.

            You are correct about the correct temperature making all the difference in the world. I upgraded to a Technivorm and the coffee is not just convenient but has great taste to rival vacuum which is my preferred prep method.

            I will agree that ultimately it comes down to personal preference. I’ll go further to say most people will probably prefer whatever they are accustomed to. Give a perc pot a try. They are not expensive so you won’t be out a lot of money. At the same time you get your perc pick up a vacuum pot. That will give you a package that looks similar to a perc pot without all the inherent engineering problems. If you end up loving perc above all else then by all means celebrate your discovery of the way that is right for you.

          12. I tried a Presto Percolator And…

            I went out today and purchased a Presto 12-cup Percolator (highest rated model on Amazon) at Sears. It cost around $50. And yes by Percolator, I mean the “bad” coffee maker, not a Moka pot, which I already have and have had for several years (forgot to mention it in my list above).

            In general, the basic premise is that Percolators are ‘bad’ because they both “boil” coffee and “recirculate” (brew coffee again that was already brewed). The 2nd premise is BS in my opinion because French Press Pots do the same thing via convection (Percolators simply do it a little more forcefully) and no one bad mouths the French Press. In essence, brewed coffee contains micro molecules and sending them through the filter basket again would only increase the quantity, not necessarily change their nature. So I don’t buy that a viable explanation or reason why percolators “suck”.

            The 1st premise is a little harder to test with my stainless steel model because I cannot actually measure the temperature of the water (later coffee) at the bottom of the pot. The assertion here is that it IS boiling and therefore scorches the coffee and the evidence presented is a stove-based model that is literally brought to a boil. My problem with that as evidence is that the “boiling” is the USER’S FAULT. As with Turkish coffee, boiling is a no-no and should be avoided. If the user ‘boiled’ their coffee, then they had the heat setting TOO HIGH when percolating. The solution is to use less heat and not let the water/coffee boil. Percolating should not require boiling water, only HOT water (200 degrees is more or less optimal for brewing). The Presto model I purchased is an electric plug-in model. It is quite possible that the temperature is regulated. In fact, I have read (even in this very thread) that ELECTRIC PERCOLATORS do NOT boil the water, but in fact brew at about 200 degrees.

            Thus, if that is indeed correct, then ALL this bad-mouthing of percolators is pretty much 100% BS. Not only does it not matter if coffee is recirculated (French Presses do the same thing through convection), but *electric* percolators do NOT *BOIL* coffee (and neither will a stove top one if you regulate the temperature properly). Thus, I must conclude on a technical level that the case against percolators is comprised of half-truths and just plain ignorance and that it does not deserve its bad reputation and only got it because of stove top percolators run by people that don’t know the definition of medium heat.

            Now on a personal taste test level, I just tried the Presto percolator using Dunkin Donuts original whole bean coffee which was run through my burr grinder at a medium coarse level and then put into the filter basket with a home-made paper filter (poked a hole through a regular drip filter). After about 10 minutes (I made a lot of coffee), it was done and PIPING HOT (much hotter than any espresso or drip coffee and tantamount to French Press, but with a built-in warming coil like a drip maker–although you can unplug it if you don’t like it being warmed). I first tried the coffee black (after I let it cool a bit since it was burning my tongue) and my first impression was WOW. This coffee wasn’t even SLIGHTLY bitter. It is in fact, the BEST “black” coffee I’ve tasted since I had coffee one time at a catered event. I neglected to ask them what kind of coffee they were using and I now realize it is far more likely that it was the METHOD they used that produced the drinkable ‘black’ coffee (I do not normally like black coffee and I’ve tried ALL basic other coffee brewing methods except the Bodum vacuum pot and the Chemex Drip Pot). Espresso is about the only thing I like black and ONLY if it’s made well. Next, I tried adding milk and sugar to the coffee and once again, it exceeded my wildest expectations. It tasted better than a drip maker (by FAR) and rivaled if not surpassed my Bonjour French Press (same coffee, same roast). I’d imagine this could be do the fact the French Press quickly drops below 200 degrees as it cools whereas the Electric Percolator maintains it during the brew cycle.

            So as far as I’m concerned, the main article needs editing. It’s both COMPLETELY FALSE (for electric percolators and regulated stove-top ones) but the coffee tastes GREAT. And you cannot say I’m biased towards percolator coffee because I never had it before (knowingly at least). I started with drip, moved to French Press (big improvment), tried moka pots (acceptable to make pseudo cappuccino, IMO, but terrible for a pseudo-espresso) and still make espresso, cappuccino and turkish coffee on a regular basis (this is no substitute for them because their flavors are DIFFERENT from regular coffee). But as far as I’m concerned, this test has proven to me the best method for making normal coffee is a regulated temperature (electric) percolator. It brews it at the correct (200 degree) temperature. French Presses also do this but quickly cool. Drip makers don’t even come close.

            For those “coffee snobs” that think percolators are garbage, I wonder how many actually TRIED them (a good regulated one made with a good grinder) before dismissing them based on other snob opinions, many of which are clearly based on watching someone boil coffee in one instead of keeping the temperature regulated at 200 degrees where it belongs.

          13. n of 1 by emotionally invested person does not equal data

            Here is a summary of what you said:

            – I don’t know the temperature in a percolator.

            – I heard that percolators are at 200° and doesn’t boil the water.

            – Although I also heard it does boil it, I’m going to ignore that in favor of #2.

            – I’m going to assume that all percolators are 200° because I heard that one or some may be 200°.

            Therefore the article is “COMPLETELY FALSE”.

            – If you disagree with me you are a snob and you believe that without reason or your observational skills are terrible.
            ——-

            How is that for a summary? You seem EMOTIONAL because you use ALL CAPS. Illogical because you admit you don’t know something but are willing to make the leap from not knowing something to declaring something to be completely false. Illogical because you take your single experience, assume it to be correct, assume everyone who disagrees to be foolish or wrong, and apply your experience broadly.

            And you insult people who disagree with you. Clearly the issue is with you, you are emotionally invested, and your results can not be trusted.

            On the bright side, you can spell and puctuate better than 99% of people on the Internet, so there’s that.

          14. Previous comment (n of 1…) is reply to von magnum

            Grrr, crappy web forms don’t respect threading….

            Sorry.

          15. Perco Fection

            While stovetop percolators must be carefully monitored to make sure they don’t come to a boil, this is not so with electric percolators. A typical electric percolator will brew coffee at the optimum 200 degrees. The greater the wattage, the quicker it gets to this temperature, and the better the coffee will be. The recirculating of water through the grinds apparently does not have a detrimental effect. A French press allows the grinds to simply steep while floating freely in the water, so I don’t see how this makes any difference. Bascially, the faster a percolator brews, the better. I have a Farberware 8 cup perc, and it brews at cup a minute speed. I use a grind only slightly more coarse than auto drip, and it makes coffee identical in body and overall tone as my Chemex pourover brewer. Auto drip machines just cannot compare. I refurbish and resell a lot of coffee makers, and can tell you that the vast majority of coffee makers aren’t even designed to get hot enough to brew properly. They are pour substitutes for a proper method of brewing coffee. If you’re not going to use a manual method of brewing, then get a percolator.

        2. I’ve never seen a small scale one – most percolators I’ve seen do 40-cups to 100-cups (they’re really small cups) at a time and it takes about a minute per cup.

      2. coffee

        I couldn’t agree with you more my friend about the taste of a mr. coffee or anything like it. It Sucks. I love Waffle HOuses coffee and I don’t know their secret! I can tell you something that I read sometime though! Wish I would have copied it. It was in 1992 or 1992 and I was working in a quick stop. There was a manual about 5 to 6 pages long that told how to make (brew) the “perfect” cup of coffee. The water “hardness”, the temperature of the water when it hit the coffee. The amount of time that it took to pass through the coffee and the filter or “drip”. Essentially everything nessesarry for the “perfect” cup of coffee. I only wish that I had that now. It was from a coffee manufacturer. I love a good cup of coffee and they are so hard to come by. Anybody know the secret, like for instance this percolator Idea, give me a buzz. have a great day.

        Jeff

        1. quick stop coffee

          There is something funny in a quick stop having the instructions for making great coffee but yes the things that you mention are all vitally important in making great coffee. Now if more gas station would just read the instructions. The only coffee I have had in a while that I literally could not drink came from a 7-11 in Norfolk, VA. I admit I’m picky about my coffee but I’d been drinking diner brew for a week without excessive complaints so I know this stuff was bad. It could have just been the people there doing a bad job. As a side note they have the best cups I have ever seen for take away coffee. They are thick insulated plastic and did not warm my hands. A paper cup with a protective shield is still much warmer that this was. I’m not sure what the plastic might do to the flavor but probably nothing good comes from hot on plastic. I will say it was nice to not have to keep switching hands as I walked the 4 or 5 blocks back to my hotel.

  2. We use a percolator at our

    We use a percolator at our camp that does not have electricity. We used to use instant and tried the drip method. Everyone enjoys the perced coffee. It may be considered the worst way to make coffee but we enjoy it.

  3. Percolated coffee

    Rubbish!!!! The finest coffee I’ve ever had was percolated in vast urns in Iraq from a domestic (Gulf) grind. The only downside (if you can call it that) was that it was *hot*!

  4. 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!

    1. Aroma reduces the flavor?

      Even steaming foods, which is said to retain vitamins (and some also say flavor) more adequately, allows us to smell the aroma of the food. I really don’t think we should be so concerned about some the flavor escaping — just attend to our experience (flavor, aroma, etc.) of the meal or beverage. A large part of our enjoyment of foods is in the aroma. Therefore, perhaps we shouldn’t assume that what we smell when the coffee is perculating is a part of the “flavor” we want on on tongues anyway. Nature just might have meant that part of the coffee essence for our noses afterall!

      If one has never enjoyed a really delicious perked cup of coffee, it may be because he has never had one brewed properly. Brewing coffee is not at all as simple as using a drip. There is also a difference between electric perc and stovetop perc. The best tasting cup will come from a well-brewed stovetop. However, it takes the right technique which comes from experience of knowing a particular stove, coffee pot, and brand of coffee, etc. before one can brew a really good pot of coffee. And as it’s been said, it MUST be watched. Most people will underbrew or overbrew until they master the technique and UNTIL THEN the taste will be lacking. But, it is well worth the time and effort, trial and error, to finally be able to make, share, (and taste!) that perfect pot of coffee. The electric percs take the guesswork out of this process but their drawback is that it can’t be fine-tuned to one’s detailed preferences. With a stovetop, EVERY decision is yours. Talk about having it “your way”! Stovetop perculating is truly the “gourmet” style of coffee.

  5. 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.

    1. 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!

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

    1. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

    .
    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.

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

    .
    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.

    .
    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.

    .
    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.

    1. 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.

  10. complete nonsense

    After reading this description of a percolator, I literally burst into laughter. The amount of misinformation is astounding. Percolators boil water into new grounds of coffee; they do not reheat coffee thats what a microwave does. A person does not need a completely different appliance to reheat coffee, which is not what a percolator is used for.

    I advise checking the facts before misinforming the population.

    1. re: complete nonsense

      I’m glad I could help you get a good laugh. Laughter is good.


      Reheating may not be exactly the correct word but I think if you will read the text again you will see that what I am talking about is the fact that the brewed coffee in a percolator will continue to boil and be recirculated through the grounds over and over again. This is a reheating of the coffee. If the water simply got to a boil and was pushed into a separate chamber (cooling to slightly below boiling before it ever hit the grounds) where it would stay like a vacuum pot then the coffee would be safe but that is now how a percolator works. A perc repeatedly boils the already brewed coffee. That’s just a way to scorch coffee.

      Having said this if you like perc coffee by all means drink it and enjoy it. But if you are buying good beans and drinking straight black coffee in my opinion you would be better off with almost any other prep method. If you are buying cheap beans and then loading it down with milk and sugar it probably doesn’t make much difference.

      1. Sorry for you, but the

        Sorry for you, but the coffee does steam upwards through a shaft where which the coffee is effectively caught in another chamber. In this chamber, as you have worded it, the coffee sits and is never re-boiled. I’m not sure where you got the information you have stated but I believe it to be horribly mistaken. Seriously, just observe the design of the pot.

        1. RE:Sorry for you, but the

          If you would be kind enough to read the article you will see a link to a video. 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. Say it’s not true if you like but that’s a pretty good visual demonstration of what is happening. Now on the other hand if you want your coffee to be pushed up into a second chamber by steam and held safely away from boiling that’s not a percolator. That is a vacuum pot which is described over here.

          1. I watched the video of a

            I watched the video of a 60’s style percolator, who uses one of those percolators? Maybe campers or grandparents. If you want to get an idea of the kinds of percolators coffee enthusiasts use take a look at http://www.bialetti.com/
            Yeah, the kind of percolator in the video does make the worst coffee ever. I would never use such a dumb concoction. I use a percolator at home for great coffee and a french press in my studio for decent coffee. I’m not sure if you knew there were two types… Although, if you are commenting on this forum and you don’t know the differences between this percolator in the video narrated by William Shatner and the Italian stove top percolator well, then maybe you’re hurting worse than I. Who has a paper due on Monday but can’t seem to stop watching percolator videos.

          2. 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.

  11. i have a drip, percolator,

    i have a drip, percolator, and french press. sorry but the percolator makes the best coffee in my opinion – the flavor is a lot better – now i usually drink darker coffee – french roast & colombian so i dont know if that matters – i think it depends on the drinker.

  12. Works for me…

    I recently bought a Presto stainless steel percolator. I’ve had no problem adjusting the grind for a perfectly balanced taste, neither over nor under extracted. The coffee is very rich and tastes more like coffee from a press than from a drip machine to me. The coffee is hotter and seems to last longer in the pot without burning… no filters… no paper or plastics to leech chemicals into your coffee… I highly recommend the Presto perc if you enjoy a great cup of coffee.

    I’ve also found by using a finer grind suitable for drip coffee, you can make “super” coffee with a caffeine kick that will knock your socks off.. lol

  13. Percs rule!

    No doubt, percolators make the tastiest coffee! Not the quickest, but certainly the tastiest. We’ve got three children and lots of committees to juggle. Meetings usually end up here because everyone enjoys the percolated coffee so much. I guess, in their quest for speed, they bailed on taste. We own three percolators and I am very sad to say I broke my 4 cup pot yesterday. I am going CRAZY looking for a new one. Anyone know where I can find a 4 cup glass percolator?

    1. replacement 4 cup perc:

      JCPenney.com
      I am myself in the market for a new type altogether of a coffee maker. My regular dripper just gave out the other day after many years of diligent service, but never the tastiest coffee. For a good hit of true coffee taste and aroma I would have to buy commercially by the cup to tide me over, or make some cappuccino. I am between a French Press style and a percolator. I am in the process of learning about how these work, and am trying to at best guess which one will produce the tastiest home brewed coffee. I saw the 4 cup perc on Penney’s www. Good luck! Let me know how it works, would you?

  14. 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.

  15. 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 😉

    1. 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?

    2. 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.

  16. 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!

    1. 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.

    2. 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.

  17. 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)…

    1. 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.

       

  18. 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.

  19. In theory, Percoloators might not be the best way to make coffee

    But, in reality those who use them are the most happy with the taste of their coffee.
    I love a good, hot strong cup of coffee, and with the right beans, percolators will never make a bad tasting cup. There may be better ways to make coffee, but not for the price of a percolator. All you need to do is look at reviews of drip coffee systems to see how many of them make lousy, underheated coffee.

  20. A percolator making its

    A percolator making its bubbling music and the wonderful aroma of percolating coffee is unbeatable. No other coffee maker creates such a pleasing ambience. Throw away the coffee and drink from another pot jif you wish, but the nostalgic aroma dn music spells “Good morning!” and at other meal times it says,”Welcome to the table!”.

  21. coffee percolators

    There was a time when one could purchase a small (1-2 cups) coffee percolator which was ideal for someone living alone. I have an old one which has seen better days, but now all the percolators on the market are made for four cups and up. Sure, they say you can make two cups of coffee, but one still has to use a large percolator just to make one or two cups of coffee.

  22. The author of this article

    The author of this article must like thin tasteless coffee. Percolators make far better tasting coffee than drip. Dirp coffee makes are for people who don’t know what coffee should taste like or that don’t like the taste of coffee.

    1. RE: The author of this article

      You are certainly welcome to your opinion. Just remember that you are disagreeing with almost every specialty coffee professional. Drip coffee isn’t perfect by any means. Vacuum or press pot are by far better but drip does not boil the coffee so it’s the lesser of evils.

      1. I agree perc coffee rocks

        I agree perc coffee rocks over drip coffee. You can call me tasteless, and my coffee too, but you’ll have to pry my PollyPerk percolator out of cold dead hands to get it away from me.

  23. Bunn

    I am trying to give the best first-hand experience, non bias comment around..

    First, I drink my coffee black. I am not a fan of drip or percolators. I totally agree that with the comments that people that own drip machines are generally dissatisfied and I was one of them but I much prefer a drip over a percolator. However, I now have a Bunn that I use every day and I love it. It brews the coffee very strong and with lots of body. That’s because it shoots the water out in 5 streams to mix up all the grinds rather than a slow drip. And apparently people keep their Bunns for 15 years! I realize I sound like I work for Bunn, but you could easily spend $100 on a Krups drip machine that is no better than the $25 Mr. Coffee. It’s Bunn or french press for me.

    Now my first-hand experience. I always roast my own coffee and this Christmas I gave some to my uncle who has a percolator. After consuming the coffee I gave my uncle brewed in his new automatic perc, I was sad to realize that the taste I love from my home roasted coffee was gone and it tasted just like it was the same Folgers coffee that my uncle and my grandparents use. Further more, both my uncle and grandparents drink their coffee with heavy cream so I am assuming they can’t taste the difference anyway.

    In conclusion, I would say that coffee brewed in a percolator has a certain taste, which I do not like. But if you are going to argue that dripers are better, you do not have much ground (pun intended) to stand on if the machine you are using is a proctor silex.

    If you want great flavor extraction and spend $30, use a french press. But again, that is how I feel and other people may not like really good, strong coffee. There is always manual pour, but I have never tried that.

  24. I haven’t seen the 1961

    I haven’t seen the 1961 coffee institute film of which you speak, but if it shows a stovetop percolator boiling, then it is already wrong. Granted, there are many people who do not understand the physics of the percolator, and they will bring the brew to a boil in the mistaken belief that the percolating action requires this. However, a percolator does not require that the water be at the boiling point any more than does a vac pot or moka pot. Percolators work on the principle of warm water rising to the top. The small space beneath the pump creates a vacuum effect, pulling this water all the way up the pump tube and expelling it into the basket. This is what creates the bubbling effect that many people believe to be boiling. This is repeated time and again until the coffee reaches its desired strength. The water only needs to be around 185 degrees for this to work, and I’ve seen some electric percs that brew coffee nearly as lukewarm as a cheap drip machine.
    As the water continually cycles through the grounds, the extraction takes place in much the same manner as it would in a french press, where the grounds are suspended in the water. A percolator is basically the same principle, except with the grounds remaining in one place, and the water being agitated over them. As long as it is a continuous flow of water at the right temperature, the effect is that of suspending the coffee in the water, as you do with a french press. The key to good coffee, percolated or otherwise, is fresh ground whole beans of good quality. Most of us have horrible memories of supermarket canned robusta coffee made in an old 500 watt aluminum Wear-Ever percolator from our younger days. But, a good percolator, good fresh ground coffee, and an open mind will yield an unbelievably good cup of coffee.

    1. +1

      I read Eric’s comment as I was mentally composing my paragraph defending percolators. No need for me to write it though because he said it. Stovetop, low heat. And theoretically continuous flow=suspending grounds. Yup, I agree.

      Sure, the flavor is different than drip, vac, press, moka as all are different from each other. I prefer a low acid, high body coffee leaning in profile to earthy or chocolate in a perc, but I’ll brew brighter, lighter coffees in a vac pot, and maybe fruiter in a press. Depends on the bean and the flavor you want. Those older stove top pyrex or corningware from the thrift store can do a nice job if you watch the time and heat. Just like other methods, it takes fiddling. I’m not keen on electric perc any more than I’m keen on electric vac (eg bodum santos automatic, old sunbeams) because I can’t easily control the heat and time during brewing the way you can with a stovetop.

    2. Very helpful!

      My wife gave me a percolator for Christmas on the grounds that I love using somewhat archaic technologies.  I was horrified, because I like excellent coffee far more!  But to save her feelings, I’ve been using the stovetop percolator and finding the coffee surprisingly good.  Eric’s clarification is very helpful–if properly managed, the percolator is not actually boiling the coffee, but rather using convection to pump hot water over the grounds.  This helps me explain why (to my surprise) I don’t hate perc’d coffee.  The upside: a big pot of good coffee to serve a group.  The downside: doing this well on a stovetop requires some vigilance.  So this becomes a go-to way to make coffee for a group, while my french press or Melitta filter is great for just me.

  25. I feel like a child among

    I feel like a child among coffee connoisseurs here, but I do appreciate the description of the difference between percolators and vacuum pots and the explanation of how coffee shouldn’t be reheated for optimum results and taste.

    Coffee Makers Guide
    xxx

    I found the above article quite helpful for coffee maker dummies like myself.

    I consume a moderate amount of coffee, maybe 1 cup a day, sometimes more, but rarely, with a few off days in between. I’d be interested to know how many cups you guys get through in a day/week?

    1. re: I feel like a child among

      It’s not the quantity that is important but the quality of coffee. I stick between 8 and 24 oz most days with a really heavy day maybe doubling that. Of late that has been mostly decaf.

  26. Question: You said that on a

    Question: You said that on a budget, the french press is a good idea, but from what I’ve been reading it seems that in order to get decent coffee from a french press you need a good burr grinder that creates evenly sized coarse grinds with no dust. These grinders are quite pricey, so it is possible to do the french press method with pre ground or blade ground coffee?

    1. RE: Question: You said that on a

      You can definitely use a blade grinder for press pot. I did for years. You may end up with a small amount of fines but if you are careful and shake as you grind it works.

      Most in store grinders should be adjustable for a course grind with all the inherent issues that pre-ground brings.

      Canned coffee will likely be too fine for a press.

  27. In defense of percolators

    I get that you love coffee, and you go to great pains in the article and the comments to say that our own opinions and tastes are just fine with you. But you start by saying the percolators violate the “natural laws” of brewing coffee. That doesn’t leave a lot of room for opposing views.

    What value is the word of a “coffee authority?” Some have great jobs, traveling the world to drink coffee and walk through coffee bean plantations, and of course they know a lot about coffee. When it comes to questions about growing, shipping, roasting or even brewing for mass consumption, I’ll ask a coffee authority. But people give to much deference to such authorities when it comes to personal taste. The authorities can tell you what they like, and even what most of the market likes, but they can’t tell you what you like. You can argue whose taste is better until the cows come home, but it’s simply a matter of personal taste. One is not better than the other. There is no objective measure, and I’m sure you know that. Yet, people who like percolated coffee are still told that they are violating natural laws.

    I know that’s your view, but it’s a big world and there is a wide spectrum of personal tastes. Let’s just enjoy the variety, appreciate percolators for what they are – and if you want, tell us why you don’t like them. But the natural laws you cite are just rules made up by a select group of people regarding taste as an objective rather than subjective matter.

    Drip coffee makers obey those rules, and the coffee is bland. Beauty is often dependent on distinctive “flaws” that separate it from the simply good looking. The same with taste.

    Sorry for the rant, as you put a lot of effort into this site, and I enjoy it all. But, somebody needs to speak up for those of us who are constantly taking flack for our tastes by others who only know what they read. Thanks for the ear.

    1. RE: In defense of percolators

      Well said. I am happy you enjoy your coffee even if I do disagree with the method. Maybe one day I will tweak the article a bit as you say the tone does not leave much room for disagreement and there is certainly some disagreement about this article.

    2. RE: In Defense of Percolators

      I agree completely.

      One one hand, directly at the argument, the author uses very judgmental words for percolated coffee. This can then be turned around and used as judgmental words on a person who likes them. I also don’t agree with the authors ideology of breaking the “Rules of Nature” or however he stated it. I don’t think that the rules of nature have been defined by his personal taste hm? And even if he is able to look at it in a scientific sense, does it explain why some people can make exceptionally wonderful percolated coffee?

      Here’s my standpoint. I have owned a 1920’s stove top percolator for about 5 years (I found it at an estate sale for an unbeatable price $2. Never regretted the purchase). I have had drip coffee, espresso, instant, you name it, I’ve tried it, and there has yet to be a coffee that can beat the percolator coffee I have brewed from that clunky stove top machine. I do like to claim that I am a coffee affectionado and I love everything about it. Don’t get me wrong, I have my favorites, and many people don’t agree, but I’m not going to down right insult them based on their tastes.

      Now lets look at the authors reasoning. I’ll break it up into two parts, cause I just like breaking up stuff like that.
      1.) Over extracting of oils – Percolators work almost like any other machine in the process of extracting oils and flavor. It also follows the same rules. If you want stronger coffee, use less water more grounds. Weaker coffee? Vice versa. The most important thing, is the brewing time. One way that I like the percolator is that you can change the brewing time however you desire. Since mine is stove top, I can control exactly when I think the coffee is perfect leading to a perfect brew. So I then ask the author, is there something wrong with the percolator, or is there something wrong with you?

      2.) Never reheat/boil coffee –
      a.) Percolators, if used properly, NEVER boil the coffee. For a percolator to work, there has to be 2 different temperatures of water within the system. If all the water is boiling, than it is one temperature, and thus doesn’t work. What actually happens is that it heats to NEARLY boiling (Why, that’s the perfect temp. for coffee, isn’t it!) and when it falls back down, cools of slightly, get’s heated to NEARLY boiling once again, and the process continues. I have heard first hand what happens to my percolator if water gets too hot. It starts suppering out steam, and the coffee doesn’t brew at all all… hm… I guess percolators don’t boil, do they?
      b.) reheating – Now what SCIENTIFIC law states that coffee can not be reheated? I can understand why you wouldn’t want to put coffee back through a machine like a drip maker or espresso machine simply because there would be coffee residue that would go rancid, but in a percolator, that’s not an issue. Coffee particles don’t necessarily decompose if they are reheated. That’s why if coffee goes cold after drip, it can be reheated in the microwave good-as-new if it was not boiled in the microwave, or if was not old. I will not listen to the idea that reheating coffee reduces quality until I have experienced firsthand that it is truthful. Considering that I have not, I don’t believe it.

      In the example of the glass percolator pot, he stated that it is indeed re-brewing already brewed coffee through the grounds, but that evidence still doesn’t state the exact evidence of the error in this. Plus, most percolator coffee should not be brewed longer than 7 minutes, as this causes it to strip the coffee grounds of too much oil.

      Lastly, I would just like to double-confirm that what I have is NOT a “moka pot” or “vacuum” brewer. It is a percolator, unlike any other I’ve seen before. Very old and in amazing condition. Makes a lot of noise when I use it, but does it’s job brilliantly. Stove top percolator of the 1920’s.

  28. One month off caffeine

    Hey everyone, just an update on what’s happening with me. I have been off caffeine now for one month. The hardest withdrawal symptom to deal with is severe insomnia. I tried so many different sleep medications and also tried sleeping on my own which I was lucky to even to get 2 hours of sleep per night. I was waking up throughout the night like every hour to half hour. It was pure hell. Finally my primary doctor prescribed me Clonazepam 1mg at bedtime for insomnia. I know it’s a narcotic and can be highly addictive, but at this point where my mental and physical health is in jeopardy, the benefit outweighs the risks. I also met an individual who had an extreme caffeine addiction where it landed him in the hospital. He experienced every withdrawal symptom that I went through. He said it took him about 6 months to get better. He also said that he had insomnia. He told me that he could only sleep 2 hours per night for about 5 months and at 6 months is when he noticed his normal sleep pattern returning. I don’t think I could wait that long. One month of sleep deprivation is long enough for me. My constipation problem is improving with the daily use of a laxative called miralax which my doctor approved. I will never touch caffeine again. All the hell I had to go through this month, I finally realized how much caffeine can impact our health in a negative way. I know it will be a while before my body hopefully turns back to normal, but I am going to keep fighting this addiction. There is no way I want to deal with this every again. To be continued…

  29. Two rules to counter yours…

    A lot of people have told me the rules mentioned above, that you shouldn’t boil coffee and you shouldn’t over-extract the oils and flavors. But the proof is in the cup of coffee.

    I’ve been entertaining people for over 20 years, and I’ve been using a percolator all that time. I buy whatever coffee is on sale at the grocery store, mostly “Chock Full of Nuts” or “Maxwell House.” I make the coffee strong, and put just a tiny bit of cinnamon (~1/8 teaspoon) on the grounds.

    Despite all of these egregious errors, I consistently have been told “this is the best cup of coffee I’ve ever had.” I hear this from unsophisticated coffee drinkers. I hear this from coffee snobs. I’ve heard this from people from Seattle. I hear this from business people who travel to Costa Rica regularly. I’ve had people swear I must be using expensive coffee. I’ve had people watch me make it and stand in disbelief as they savor the coffee.

    Observing the success of my coffee, I have come up with my two immutable facts to counter yours:
    1. Everybody likes a strong cup of coffee.
    2. Everybody likes a hot cup of coffee.

    Most other methods of brewing coffee violate both of these rules or at least make it more difficult to achieve them. Percolation, especially in an automatic electric percolator, makes both of these rules easy to achieve.

    I’m not saying the way you choose to make coffee is wrong. I’m just saying everyone likes my coffee.

    1. Bravo!  Taste is the final

      Bravo!  Taste is the final determinant.  I just purchased a small percolater because I’m so tired of the crappy coffee I get from all the drip makers I’ve had over the years.  I remember my mom’s percolator and the great smell and how much she loved her coffee.  If it’s even half as good as I think it will be, I’ll be a believer for life.

  30. Must have good coffee

    I have spent a lot of $ on coffee equipment. My made in Holland Techivorm coffee maker and my Rancillio burr grinder are both very expensive. I also have a 30 years coffex espresso machine I repaired and make excellent espresso. I would rather spend more money and buy products that last a lifetime and work well that but cheap stuff that breaks every 2 years. It is not so cheap then. And buying fresh coffee beans is a must. Costco has good prices and that is were I buy my french roast. Depending on what kind of coffee you make you need the approprate grind. You will either waste coffee or it won’t be as good as it can be. Sorry, store bought used to be good just now is just plain bad. Yes my Techinvorm makes excellent coffee and I am experimenting with a vintage glass pyrex peculator maker. I do like hot coffee and it does this well. The coffee tastes different than drip. I also use a french press. I think you can make a good cup o joe with any kind of coffee maker if you do it right AND use good coffee.

    While it was painful at the time I spent so much on coffee equipment I am glas now I bought them. I NEVER buy coffee at a shop. I can make better and it cost a lot less.I am drinking a cup of perc coffee now but I need use more coffee, still a little weak for me. A side not, the stronger the coffee the less caffeine it has. The longer the roast the less caffeine is left.

    ENJOY!!

     

    1. coffee maker question

      Hey, can you tell me if you are still liking your Technivorm? Thinking of buying one of them – the one that brews into the thermal carafe. I love my percolator and French Press but my husband keeps a very different schedule than me so I want to make coffee for me in the early AM and have him drink it still be drinkable 2 hrs later. I guess another option would be for me to decant the percolator into a pre-warmed thermal carafe, which would be a lot cheaper than buying a great drip coffee maker.

      Please let me know if you still think the Technivorm is worth the $, thanks!

      1. RE: coffee maker question

        I’m not the original poster you replied to but I had a Technivorm for years and can tell you it is a great drip coffee machine. A year or two ago I replaced it with a Bonavita which is, in my opinion, on par with the Technivorm although probably not quite as nice to look at. My memory of why I decided to replace the Technivorm escapes me at this time. I looked at another Technivorm, Bonavita and the Behmor but settled on the Bonavita. You should be able to find bake off comparisons of these three brands/models.

        The SCAA has a certification program and it looks like a couple more brands have ended up on the list so it may be worth giving them a look. Also with the exception of Technivorm and Behmor be sure to check the model as all the pots in a line may not be certified. At the time I purchased Behmor had not hit the list yet and that was part of the reason I did not go that route. http://www.scaa.org/?page=cert2

        Having said all that no coffee that is 2 hours old even in a great carafe of air pot is going to be as good as fresh but start with a better product and you will end with a better product.

        I’m of the opinion that a vacuum port or french press are both still better than the best drip coffee but for weekdays drip is much more convenient.

  31. A long search for a drip coffee maker

    I have been on a long search for a drip coffee machine that makes a good cup of coffee, and… I haven’t found one 🙁  I have hopelessly tried different machines of varying price ranges, reviews, and ratings.  The latest one that I just bought based on reviews is the Cuisinart DC1200 (it gets the highest ratings on Amazon and other websites).  I do admit that I have not tried the Technivorm- just something about spending $300 on a drip coffee maker does not sit well with me.  Nevertheless, the end result is all the same- bland, mediocre coffee that is not hot enough.  I drink lots of coffee (2-5 cups a day) and I appreciate a good tasting cup of coffee.  I buy my coffee beans at a local roaster, so they are fresh all the time.  This morning I decided to give the Cuisinart another shot- the temperature, although not hot, was bearable- drinkable at least.  As far as taste and aroma- bland, boring- slightly better than gas station coffee.  I turned around and brewed some coffee on my mom’s electric percolator (hamilton beach $40 at Target)… Result- aromatic, flavorful, HOT coffee…  So, I don’t know/care what kind of coffee laws the percolator violates, but this baby can make one heck of cup of coffee, imho…

  32. Percolating coffee

    What an interesting article.  I just recently posted an article asking what happened to perked coffee.  It is one of my favorite ways to drink coffee.  Although, I must say I am also guilty of calling a Moka pot a stove top espresso maker, this is now my absolute favorite form of coffee.  On the subject, however I personally think that percolated coffee offers much better flavor than auto drip coffee.  I love the strength in perked coffee.  In my opinion the flavor is much better than most other forms.  As for perculating coffee being an effort, this is so true.  Perked coffee can easily be too weak or too strong and bitter.  The idea is to learn exactly how you like and for me it’s based on time of perk and color.  All that being said, all beans are not alike and unless the coffee bean is of quality, any coffee can taste terrible.  Thanks for postingt this article though.  Very good reading.  

  33. New to Perc and a Happy Camper

    I’ve spent a small fortune on a variety of moderately priced drip coffee makers. I also have a couple of french presses. I do so love the taste of coffee in my French Press, however, I love my coffee piping hot with a rich smooth taste. The press does that for the most part but I have to reheat and reheat and reheat as I do not gulp it all down at once.

    I’ve never been happy with the taste of any of the various coffees I’ve ran through drip makers. Regardless of high end whole bean ground at home or lower end supermarket ground coffee. 

    I’m on the verge of spending more than I’d like on a Keurig as I don’t want the entry level ones but decided to try a Percolator first. I got the Hamilton at Target and OMG. LOVE IT. LOVE THE TASTE. LOVE THE PIPING HOT RICH SMOOTHNESS. 

    Soooo, toss me in jail for violating all that is pure in how affecienados choose to brew. As long as I’m happy with the Perc – that’s all that matters.

     

     

    1. Percolicious

      New to Percolators, well sort of, as my Grandparents used to make it this way in the “old days”.  I prefer the taste over the drip models. Call me old fashioned, but it just tastes GREAT, full of flavor and HOT! What was once old, is NEW again!

    2. Percolators

      My neighbors were cleaning out ‘Granma’s’ house and gave me three percolators(1900?, 1930’s & 1950’s).  One manual and two electrics and I dig them the most!  I was looking for how the electric circuits know when to perc and when to shift to warm.  brog23066@yahoo.com

    3. Percolator

      I have every type of coffe maker you could name, including a vacuum pot.

      The vacuum pot is in fact my second favorite way of brewing coffee, but nothing….nothing can beat percolated coffee, for the aroma, the flavor, and the smoothness.

      I believe that most of the people on the web simply follow the words of others…(parrots/sheep)….and sing the same old song about the evils of perked coffee.

      Case in point: I have a neighbor that sings that same old evil percoplator song to me, then one day I asked him: did you ever even have perked coffee?

      Not surprisingly his answer was: no! …. point made!

    4. Coffee

      Thank you, I bought a Keurig and returned it. The coffee was terrible. If you ever purchase one keep all packaging and receipts cause you will need to return it. My boss bought one for our office and no one uses it. They beg me to make fresh coffee. May try the Hamilton.

    5. Percolators

      I got a sudden urge for perked coffee a few weeks ago, went to WalMart and purchased a stove top percolator for $13.  I came home and made a pot and gave my nice drip coffee maker to my daughter.  You do have to watch it and not overperk it, but if done right it makes the BEST cuppa coffee you ever drank…..smooth, rich, hot and delicious.  Okay, so it doesn’t have a clock or timer on it, but I can leave it on the burner for hours on very low heat, and it stays beautifully heated and still tastes good. 

  34. Coffee brewed by a coffee

    Coffee brewed by a coffee percolator or coffee urn may not taste like that made with drip coffee makers, yet many people do like coffee made with percolators, and the percolators that can brew many cups of coffee are very useful as commercial coffee urns for large crowds and gatherings (family, frineds, business, seminars, etc.). There’s a drawback that it makes a noise when brewing, but it can be done in advance, which is necessary anyway in order to have the coffee ready when needed.

  35. Perc’s needlessly bad image

    Daniel, I think you’re doing your visitors a disservice by leaving the perc description here so biased and uniformly negative. As the earliest comments in the threads indicate, a good percolator – particularly the simple electric perc available from department stores – does not boil the coffee and does not cycle it endlessly through the grounds. I have one of these percs that I bought after years of suffering with mediocre coffee from drip machines and being only marginally satisfied with the output of my moka pot and french press. The perc was a revelation! It brews a smooth, complex cup, and the design ensures that it won’t produce the burnt garbage coffee that a stovetop perc pot will do if left unattended.

    This is an important consideration! If your experience with percolated coffee is based on someone using a stovetop perc pot but paying poor attention to the process, then you haven’t had properly prepared percolated coffee. It’s the equivalent of leaving a moka pot on the stove to boil. That coffee will be lousy too, but it’s not the fault of the brew method. Perc coffee was the standard cup in America for a long time for a reason! Done properly, it’s amazingly smooth and delicious.

     

    The electric percolator pot has a brew cycle that works quite well; it first heats up the water to just under boiling and percs it through the basket. On my 4-cup farberware percolator, this happens quickly, with a brew cycle of about 5 minutes. Then it throttles back the heat quickly, stopping the brew cycle entirely, but keeping the pot warm. 

    Don’t knock this brew method until you have tried it. It’s outstanding, and a much better alternative to most drip machines. You’re doing yourself a disservice by dismissing a very viable brew method based on bad implementations you’ve been exposed to in the past. Try it again, and you will see. 

    1. Long Time Coffee Drinking Snob

      I have to agree with Roger, your doing a great disservice to your readers. Percolator coffee was all there was when I was a kid. I remember visiting relatives and the whole house smelling of great percolator coffee every morning. Nothing’s come close since. I too was sucked in by the newer, shinier methods of brewing coffee in my 20’s and beyond because someone else told me it was better, but have come back to percolating my coffee. Ironically, I saw a food channel TV show recently with a bunch of 20-something food nerds excitedly talking about this new coffee brewing method they’d just “discovered.” Some sort of contraption with water at the bottom and ground coffee in an upper chamber and the water flowed over the grounds as it was heated. It brewed the most amazing cup of coffee they’d ever tasted. They had “discovered” percolator coffee. 

    2. Perced coffee

      My Mom served me up a cup of coffee the other day and I said “OMG this is fabulous coffee, what kind is it?”  I found out that it was Raleys French Roast run through her Presto Electric Percolator.  Way better than my drip maker coffee Braun.  It was piping hot and so SMOOOTH.  Yum  I made her order up a percolator just like hers from Amazon.com

       

       

    3. Perk Up, Everyone!

      Here! Here! …for perked coffee! Actually, with the snobbery out there regarding this time honored way of brewing joe, I think Daniel was more kind than some others on this subject. I agree whole-heartedly that making coffee in a percolator (stove top or electric, in my opinion) can produce a great tasting result when done properly. This debate reminds me of a cook who once told me that it’s not possible to fry food successfully in olive oil because it burns easily. All my Italian ancestors and THIS American decended from those ancestors can attest to the nonsense of that! Act like a Neanderthal with the heat and you can ruin either experience. Do it gently and the results are sublime. In my opinion, current coffee making practices reflect just how far our culture has come down the road of wastefulness, selfishness and snobbery. Drip coffeee makers use filters that are usually thrown away and the latest contraption asks us to buy tiny containers that must be discarded/recycled so all the self-involved pups can have their “vewy own individ-woo-al kind of coffee” . I say, that’s not what coffee making is about!!! It’s about sharing the same “pot” with friends as you linger in a communal spirit of common experience! So, get back to the pot, America. Let the percolater bring you home and back to the right track for a deeper, fuller coffee drinking experience and a less wasteful lifestyle. And remember…those grounds can go right into the compost pile so absolutely nothing is going into the trash 😉 

      1. Thanks!

        Just wanted to say thanks for starting my day off with a thought 🙂

        Seriously though, your mention of the “communal spirit” of a pot of coffee got me thinking about (oddly enough) a couple of rehabilitation places I stayed at for a while… One had the new “fad” version of a single cup brew packet machine… Good taste and all, but everyone walked into the kitchen, made their cup, and walked out of the kitchen to read the paper, watch tv, etc… Another had an old fashioned percolater… We all sat at the kitchen table together talking/waking up/generally socializing while it perced, then almost everyone stayed at the table while drinking their cups… The difference in the morning coffee experience was drastic and your comment explains it perfectly.. Never realized how much of a social focal point the pot of coffee could be

        As for the OP… I recently inherrited an old ’60s or ’70s model percolater from my grandmother’s passing… I had no idea how much nuaince drip coffee makers take away… This was the first time I’ve EVER been able to not only drink, but actually ENJOY a cup of coffee with almost zero cream and sugar….usually I add so much I get teased about how much coffee I add to my cream and sugar. Can’t wait to try a vaccuum pot.. Sounds really interesting

    4. Reply to Perc’s needlessly bad image

       I couldn’t agree with you more Roger! Unfortunately Daniel’s negative and misleading comments, about percolators, is absolutely doing a HUGE disservice to people everywhere.  I, too, had been suffering with mediocre coffee from drip machines for years, because I had no idea there could be a better cup of coffee — just better beans and good water. Keep in mind that no one is really discussing the quality of coffee beans or water either.  This does have a lot to do with a good cup of coffee, no matter how you choose to make it. 

      I was hooked on an electric percolator, about 6 months ago, when my mother purchased a new percolator.  I was at her house when she served me this beautiful cup of gold.  Immediately my mouth dropped and I couldn’t stop praising the taste of the coffee.  I simply could not believe the taste.  We both use the exact same coffee bean too, so the only difference was the percolator.  Let me also add that because my normal cup of drip coffee was so mediocre, I had to use flavored creamers.  With a percolator you do NOT have to use the creamer!  WOW!  That’s a GOOD cup of coffee! The entire weekend I couldn’t stop talking about that coffee and always wanted a reason to have another cup. 

      Now, I have to tell you a little story about what my mother did. I live 1.5 hours away from her, yet I come to visit usually once a week, among other things, I take her laundry home with me and do it for her, she is 73.  We laugh, I am her fluff ‘n fold service!  Anyway, when I got home that day, and started to sort her laundry, I noticed that there was a large box hidden in the clothes — it was her NEW percolator!  OMGoodness was I surprised!  Yes, she loved her new percolator but saw how much I enjoyed it, decided to give it to me.  That is a sweet mommy!  Her birthday is in October, she will be pleased to find that one of her gifts is, that’s right, another new percolator for herself! 

      In a nutshell, I implore you to please ‘just try it once’.  Of course, use a NEW, modern percolator and not and your mother’s old one.  Perhaps that is where the supposed taste issue may be.  Today’s percolator is delightful and delicious! 

      NOTE: Apparently no matter how you spacing or indent, this site continues to mess it up, as you probably have noticed, if you are writing a reply.  Any mistakes (other than my grammer and spelling) are from the site and not my doing. I made all new paragraphs and accurate spacing, where needed.  It’s so frustrating re-doing this reply over and over again due to, too many spaces, no spaces and no indention.  arrrrg.

      1. You are talking to nobody,

        You are talking to nobody, those posts are all out of date, so take your percolator and put it ……

  36. Perculator Coffee

    I have had Drip, French Press, Pour Over, Stove top and Electric Perc’s. For years we used a Faberware stove top 6 cup percolator, made the best coffee. Everyone that had a cup said so. Eventually went to a Braun Drip that would make a cup in 3 minutes. It made good coffee. After it died, I couldn’t justify the $100 price tag. I bought a West Bend 12 cup Electric Percolator. Wow! I had forgotten how good a non-gourmet cup of coffee could taste. We use Maxwell House Classic, and it is great.
    We enjoy for a change Jamaica Blue Mountain. We had gone to the World Market to get a bag, but they were out. Decided to try the South Pacific Island blend. I have to say that in the Perc, it was wonderful. Smooth, not acidic, full bodied, just good coffee.
    If you like gourmet coffees, try them in a percolator, you might be surprised.

  37. Is the Altitude a factor?

    I just bought a percolator, watched the videos, experimented (a little) and now get the absolute best coffee I have ever had. And I’ve had a French Press, a single-cup drip, and several drip machines over the years. Yes, the percked coffee surpasses them all.

    But I live at a high altitude. In fact, water boils here at about 200degrees–supposedly the optimal temperature for coffee brewing. So if my percolator takes the same ol’ coffee, boils it, then reprocesses it until it’s “dead”, then it is doing it at the right temperature.

    I wonder if this could be one factor in the wide disagreement people have over percked coffee?

    1. RE: Is the Altitude a factor?

      You know this is something I had not considered before but it makes a certain amount of sense.

  38. Just try it once.

    Percolated coffee is among the best brewing methods. I’ve had countless pots in a french press, through high quality auto drip, pourover, vacuum, (not to mention the barrels of coffee through low shelf auto drippers that I’ve had the displeasure of consuming). The only method I haven’t used is the aeropress. I do use high quality beans that are freshly roasted, and I grind fresh every brew. That said, in my view percolated coffee is definitely up there with all of the other methods I’ve tried. If anything, percolator brew tends to be smoother than some of the other methods while maintaining a fully body and richness. Over-extraction has never been a problem with my percolator (while occasionally I have screwed up with other manual methods).

    The electric percolator I have (a cheap 40 dollar Presto) keeps the coffee in the holding tank at just under 190 degrees while brewing (I checked it with a candy thermometer after reading this article), so overheating is not an issue. I wasn’t able to check the water tempt as it hits the coffee, but most seem to agree that the water coming out of the percolator stem is just under boiling as it should be.

    As for the idea of percolated coffee being over-extracted via the brewed coffee mixing in the reservoir and then being re-brewed, this is no different than french press, which steeps the coffee for 4 minutes in one big reservoir.

    All of that said, the proof is in the pudding. If you are a coffee lover, get a percolator and try it out for yourself. It is my go to method for serving coffee when I have a large group of guests over. There is definitely a lot of disinformation out there about percolated coffee.

    1. Let me add this to my last

      Let me add this to my last comment. With a percolator you can take starbucks beans and make a better cup of coffee than Starbucks makes. Of course, the same can be done with other manual methods as well.

  39. Severe Constipation

    Since I quit caffeine again 3 months ago I have been having digestive issues. Constipation is one of them. Some weeks things will be ok then another week constipation again. I know I had this back in 2011 when I quit caffeine for a year but I forgot how bad it was. What was the longest any of you had to deal with constipation issues because its a pain in the butt.

  40. I must disagree with those

    I must disagree with those who prefer percolated coffee. It’s absolutely the most tasteless cup of joe I’ve had. I recently bought a nice percolator, remembering it was always in my home as a child. The quality of the coffee tastes more like a cigarette when you don’t smoke — it’s a strong but harsh tobacco taste, with less coffee flavor and aroma. It’s mostly robust brown water. The drip method preserves more of the smooth, rounded coffee flavor. Too bad — I love the way the percolator looks and the stainless-steel innards. Very cool, and the pot looks better on the cabinet. But I’ve packed it away, probably forever. Drip method from now on.

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