The Ultimate Guide to Percolated Coffee

Do you have a love affair with your coffee? Is percolated coffee your favourite brew or does another style take your fancy? To all coffee lovers around the world (including me!), this is a special moment. The aroma of freshly brewed coffee, as the kettle sings on the stovetop, the sight of a fresh mug of coffee- your senses are awake and thus, begins your day.

What is Percolated coffee?

filter coffee, ground coffee

Percolated coffee is coffee brewed using a percolator. This simple process of percolation involves the passing of a solvent, the steam, through a porous substance, the coffee granules. There are stovetop percolators and electric percolators. For more information on which percolator is the best to buy, read this article.

The Stovetop percolator technique of brewing creates an environment of high heat, where the coffee grounds get supersaturated with water, resulting in a strongly brewed coffee. This brewed coffee is then repeatedly re-steeped several times, creating a strong and robust coffee.

Stovetop percolator coffee making may seem quite old-fashioned but the simplicity and the beauty in slowly brewing your morning cuppa is a perfect way to start your day. It is an active brewing method that requires your time, skill and patience to get it just right!

The history of percolated coffee

Stovetop percolated coffee has a history dating back to the 1800s when the method of incorporating the boiling water through coffee granules was used for brewing coffee. 

percolated coffee

The modern US stovetop percolator is said to have been invented by a US farmer named Hanson Goodrich. The pot has undergone a significant transformation with the birth of electric and stovetop percolators in various sizes, and shapes, but the primary mechanism remains the same.

Distinctive features of a percolated coffee: If you have tried and tasted percolated coffee, you will love it. So, what makes it so special? What are some of the unique features of a percolated coffee that made our grandparents keep brewing it the same way? 

  1. It has a strong taste which makes it a great choice if you love strong coffee.
  2. The high temperature used for brewing coffee makes it a hot cup of coffee to enjoy.
  3. This form of brewing brings out a distinctive texture and flavour influencing the taste of the coffee.
  4. It is a simple process. The simplicity involved in making percolated coffee brings out the absolute beauty for caffeine lovers.
  5. It is your best travel companion. The light and portable nature of percolators make them a versatile option for travellers and an excellent chance to enjoy some fantastic coffee.

However, percolated coffee is not for the impatient or the instant coffee makers. It demands your time and skill to brew that perfect cuppa for your delicious hot drink. And if you over-extract the granules, you could end up with a bitter coffee– a waste of delicious coffee.

How to make percolated coffee using stovetop percolators

Learning to use the percolator to make a delicious and robust cup of coffee requires practice and effort. This is not you ‘set it up and forget it’ type of coffee making. 

You need to watch your pot boil and see the fusion of hot water and coffee granules to become an aromatic and perfect coffee. As the water boils, the temperature needs to be controlled, or you could end up with bitter and ‘yucky’ coffee. So, how do you do it? 

How to brew the perfect percolated coffee?

Step-by-step tutorial on making percolated coffee:

  1. Get your percolator ready: Assemble your percolator as per the instruction manual. The equipment needs to be perfectly clean as leftover coffee grounds can alter the taste of your coffee.
  2. Measure your coffee: In this step, you need to measure coffee and water accurately to reach the acceptable ratio for the perfect combination. 
    Recipes usually say, 30 gms of coffee beans to 500mls of water or 1 tsp to one cup is the perfect ratio. But see, what works for you. Try experimenting till you are perfectly happy with the taste.
  3. Add your coffee granules: Coffee beans needs to be grounded to medium coarse granules for that ultimate coffee. The coffee ground is added to the basket. Be careful not to overfill the chamber. The trick here is to keep the number of granules less as percolators do make strong coffee.
  4. Add water: Coldwater is then poured into the base of the percolator. Measure your water accurately to the amount of coffee powder used. Close the lid securely with all the parts firmly fitted. 
  5. Let it boil: Setup the percolator on heat and let the process begin. As the water starts boiling and steam appears, reduce the heat. Percolated coffee is made by slowing the brewing process and letting the hot water infuse the coarse granules.
  6. Watch the process: This is the part of testing your patience. As the percolator starts perking, reduce heat and let it perk for at least 7 to 10 minutes. By maintaining this heat level, you can see the water slowly changing to a creamy cloudy coffee appearance.

Coffee lovers say the more prolonged the percolator perks, the stronger will be your coffee. The challenge here is not to rush the process, or you will end with a cup of bitter coffee.

  1. Enjoy your cuppa: All your patience and efforts are finally going to pay off! Remove the percolator from the heat and discard the ground coffee. Pour yourself a delicious, flavourful strong coffee and Enjoy! You have earned it.

What type of coffee beans are best used in a percolator?

Making percolated coffee using a stovetop percolator is only half the story. The secret to the perfect ending lies in the selection of the ideal coffee beans.

chai latte, filter coffee

Coffee beans range in a variety of options from dark roast to lighter variations with varying ranges in between. For the perfect cup of percolated coffee, a medium roast works best. A darker roast can make it too bitter, whereas the lighter version can alter the texture and flavour of the coffee. 

The fineness of coffee granules also plays an influential role in the final taste of your coffee. The grounds need to be ground to medium coarseness. Too big; the granules can make it too bitter whereas too small can leave sediments in your cup, which is a no-no.

No two persons may agree to the same coffee beans. The strength, ratio and taste all vary among each person. You need to experiment and find out what works best for you and what is your perfect cup. 

A piece of expert advice here is to always grind your coffee fresh and as close to the brew as possible.

Even with all the goodness of using a stovetop percolator, its usage has dramatically declined over the past years due to the advent of other coffee makers like the drip coffee maker and the Espresso. The bitter brew and dry cups of coffee were some of the causes for its reduced popularity.

How is percolator coffee different from espresso coffee?

Percolator coffee and Espresso looks very similar but differs very much in taste, make and concentration.

Espresso coffee makes a more concentrated drink. Espresso is made when water at high pressure and a specific temperature immerses the coffee granules. Whereas, a percolator uses gravity to move the water through the coffee ground. So, espresso coffee turns out to be a much stronger coffee.

brisbane coffee, coffee in bags

The grinding of coffee granules also makes a significant difference to the ultimate delicious coffee. Espresso uses finer granules as opposed to percolator which uses medium-coarse granules to make percolated coffee. Coffee lovers will definitely point out that the quality of coffee beans, the roasting and the grinding are essential factors for a beautiful coffee.

However, a percolated coffee may be a more versatile option due to its simplicity, portability and suited for travels with its compact nature. An espresso machine can be bulky, heavy and cost you more. Now, if you prefer the taste of an espresso, then go for it!


So, what would you prefer? Would you prefer the percolated coffee with its humble beginnings, longer brewing time and strong, robust flavour made in a traditional way? 

Or, would you rather go for an espresso with its convenience, instant make and a more concentrated smaller cup with a greater boost?

No two persons are the same, and neither are their tastebuds. Whatever you choose, enjoy your delicious aromatic cuppa, because ‘you are definitely worth it’.