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How To Make Coffee in a Stovetop Percolator | The Ultimate Guide

Going old fashioned might look like you are taking a step backward, and it frequently is. However, at times old-school has its unique charm and some things such as making coffee are better when done without the new and modern equipment. Until you try brewing your coffee cup via a stovetop, you won’t know what you are missing. So, how do you make coffee in a stovetop percolator?

The stovetop percolator is excellent for camping, but it does not have to be limited to outdoor adventures. When the percolator method is done correctly, this old-fashioned brewing method produces a seriously delicious coffee cup. This article goes through everything you need to know about brewing your coffee using a stovetop percolator.

To percolate means making a solvent, which in this case is water or steam to pass through coffee grounds, which is a porous substance. A stovetop percolator is an equipment that brews coffee in the old fashion way. The device is like a tall kettle but comes with a vacuum system for coffee brewing. This kettle has a water reservoir at the bottom and a tube that goes to the top where there is a filter-basket filled with ground coffee.

How Does Percolator work?

The stovetop percolator creates an environment where steam saturates your grounds before they are filtered. The device has a system that draws hot water from the bottom to top, which trickles back down through the coffee grounds. This process is known as percolation. Pour in the water, use fire to heat it to temperature, and the water runs through the central chamber to the top where it filters through the upper ground coffee chamber back to the bottom.

how does percolator work

Stovetop Percolator

How To Make Coffee in a Stovetop Percolator?

Now let’s look at a step to step instructions on how to make coffee in a stovetop percolator.


  • Whole coffee beans
  • Water
  • Coffee grinder
  • A coffee measuring spoon or coffee scale
  • Stovetop percolator
  • A mug

Once you have all the required items, follow these steps to brew your coffee.

1. Grind and Measure Your Coffee

For the best coffee brew, it’s recommendable that you grind your beans as close to brewing time as possible. You should use a burr grinder for more finely even and medium-course grounds, which gives the best flavor in a stovetop percolator.

Very big grounds will waste the delicious coffee flavor while too small grounds might dissolve and end back into your coffee hence adding more bitterness. Some stovetop percolators feature slightly large homes. This is okay because you can easily filter any grounds that get into your finished coffee at the end of the brew.

The key to brewing a nicely balanced brew is using accurate and right measurements. We recommend you to use about 15 grams of coffee in 250 ml of water. You can vary the ration when experimenting, but this will be a good starting point. If you don’t have a coffee scale, you can put one tablespoonful of ground coffee on every water cup. If you don't like bitter or strong coffees, you can reduce the coffee amount and increase the water for a mild flavor.

2. Prepare and Fill The Percolator

The next step involves preparing and your stovetop percolator. Add cold water to the water reservoir of the percolator. You want to let the water heat slowly; hence starting with cold water will help.

The next step is placing the funnel filter on top and put the ground coffee to the basket while pressing it gently. Fill the coffee basket. However, double-check your measurements to avoid overfilling the basket when using this method. Replace the basket lid and close the percolator.

3. Start Heating

Once everything is set, place your percolator on your source of heat, such as a stove, and set the burner to medium or low heat. For an excellent percolator coffee, the trick is using a slow heating process and preventing any boiling. You need to heat the water slowly to avoid any bitter or burnt taste.

Even though they say that a watched pot never boils, you need to watch it as it starts heating up. Most stovetop percolator models come with a transparent plastic knob or a clear glass at the top of the kettle for you to watch through.

4. Set The Timer and Watch It Carefully

Immediately your water starts bubbling at regular intervals, set your timer, and observe it. The timer should be set for ten minutes at most. It is recommendable to set the timer for five to eight minutes, but this depends on your favorite flavor. What you need to note is that the longer the percolation, the stronger your coffee will be.

On your first try, you should time it for ten minutes to get the taste on the authentic stovetop percolator. Keep in mind that this is not a set it forgets it technique, you should keep an eye on your bubbling water and make the temperature adjustments accordingly.

5. Stop The Heating

Once the timer is up, stop the heat and remove your stovetop percolator carefully. The device will be very hot, so you should use a kitchen towel or an oven mitt to prevent your hands from burning. You should also use a trivet to protect your countertop.

6. Remove The Coffee Grounds

Ready to drink that first coffee cup? Not so fast. You need to first remove the coffee grounds before pouring yourself the freshly percolated coffee. Most stovetop percolators do not contain strong seals separating the reservoir from the basket. This means that if you pour your coffee first, it might be filled with grounds.

Remove the basket and toss out your used grounds. In case there are a few grounds leftover in the coffee, that is fine. You can let them stay to give you an extra shot of bitterness. However, if that's not appealing to you, you can filter them out using a fine mesh strainer when pouring it in your mug.

7. Pour Coffee Into The Mug and Enjoy

After removing the coffee grounds, replace the percolator lid, and pour yourself a hot coffee cup. You can add cream, milk, or sweetener to your liking and enjoy.

According to Michael Thaddeus, percolators are poplar for making a rich, robust, and deep flavor and spreading a rich coffee flavor when brewing the coffee.

8. Clean Up

Like ordinary electric coffee makers, a stovetop percolator will begin to get clogged with leftover coffee residues after some time. However, the difference between these devices is that the percolator is easier to clean.

Advantages of Using a Stovetop Percolator

Stovetop percolators are easier to clean as compared to electric coffee makers

This percolator lasts longer and is much more affordable than an electric coffee maker that eventually break and wear out. They are made of stainless steel hence do not break easily, nor do they need weekly, daily, or monthly maintenance.

The stovetop percolator gives you a hotter coffee than an electric coffee maker. This is particularly important during cold weather.

Stovetop percolators are not clogged up by minerals present in tap water. This means the device will not slow down over time.

Stovetop percolators are more reliable and practical. When you go outdoors, it’s difficult to find electric outlets to plug in your coffee maker. Stovetop percolators can be used anywhere as they do not use electricity.

One of the advantages of using a stovetop percolator is that it brews coffee that tastes much better than an electric coffee maker. This percolator produces a notoriously robust cup of coffee while also allowing you to have more control over the coffee brewing process.

Stovetop percolators are environmentally friendly as they don’t need filter papers, discs, or single-use cups.

Disadvantages of Using a Stovetop Percolator

Stovetop percolator can brew a coffee that is too bitter or too strong. Inadequate preparation and over-extraction can often result in producing coffee that has a rather strong intensity. If there is one thing that ruins, a day of a coffee drinker is a sour-tasting coffee.

During the brewing process, you will need to frequently monitor the brewing process to check whether it is done. This is not a laidback brew method; to master the art of coffee percolation, you need a keen coffee eye, an extent of babysitting, and the willingness to know about water temperatures. Most people see this as time-consuming.

It is an outdated or old-fashioned method. Although some people still enjoy this old way of coffee preparation, many others view it as going for a Blockbuster video rental store rather than registering for an online streaming service such as Netflix.

These disadvantages of using a stovetop percolator are often sufficient to convince a lot of people not to try the percolator. However, any coffee aficionado will tell you that no machine can match the flavor and taste of a stovetop brewed coffee once you attain the necessary brewing skills.

Types of Stovetop Percolators

There are several types of coffee percolators including;

Gravity Percolator

This is the most common percolator. As the name suggests, when the water is heated, it bubbles up the central tube and falls through the grinds using gravity. The water is continually cycled through the coffee by the use of gravity until the needed coffee flavor is gotten.

Pressure Percolator

A pressure percolator is also commonly referred to as the Moka pot. The device uses a similar concept to the gravity percolator. The boiling water goes into the central tube, but it is steam instead of water that is pressurized on the coffee grounds. Pressure percolator forces the boiling water under compression over the coffee grounds into a distinct chamber.

Stovetop Percolator

As we have already stated, a stovetop percolator is a small kettle with a little water chamber at the bottom-placed over the source of heat. The inside system das water from the bottom chamber to the top once heated so that it trickles down back through the coffee grounds. However, this is an old-fashioned percolator, as everything is done manually.

Electric Percolator

This is a coffee maker that uses electricity to make coffee. It operates similarly to a stovetop percolator, with the only difference being its advanced, automated technology. Once it starts the coffee-making process, everything is automated compared to a stovetop percolator that requires constant monitoring during the brewing. One of the features that makes them efficient is the automatic turn-on and turn-off feature that decreases the chances of making the device cause problems in the kitchen. It also comes with a keep warm feature that keeps the brew fresh and hot ready to drink.


Best coffee to be used in a percolator?

The best coffee to use in a stovetop percolator is a whole bean medium roast. In terms of grind size optimization and flavor, whole beans are always better than pre-ground beans. Light roast beans are likely to lose their subtleties and may end up tasting one-note or bland, while dark roasts will more probably end up with a burnt or bitter taste.

How much coffee do you put in a percolator?

The secret of brewing a delicious and well-balanced coffee brew is using the right and correct measurements. The amount of coffee that you put in the stovetop percolator is not rigid, and you can experiment with the amount that works best for you. However, you can start with 30 grams of coffee in 500ml of water. Depending on how strong it feels, you can reduce or add the amount of coffee.

Does percolated coffee have more caffeine?

The simple answer is that yes, it can. One of the advantages of brewing your coffee using a stovetop percolator is the ability to adjust its blew strength and caffeine content by the duration of percolation. Other factors that play a part in determining your brew's caffeine content include; the number of coffee grounds and the coffee beans roast level.

How long do you percolate coffee on the stove?

The optimum time to percolate coffee on your stovetop is five to ten minutes. However, the specific number of minutes depends on how strong or bitter you want your coffee to be. If you want a strong cup of hot coffee, you should percolate it for a minimum of ten minutes. On the other hand, for a mild coffee that is not too strong, you should percolate it for about five minutes.

How do I know when my coffee percolator is done?

Most stovetop percolators have a transparent lid. You will hence be able to see what is happening through the brewing process. As your water circulates through the percolator, the darker the water will become, and the more done your coffee will be. Preferably, your coffee should be ready when the timer is done or when you notice its dark color.

Final Thoughts

We hope that this guide on making coffee in a percolator will help you enjoy a better good morning with a tastier and more delicious cup of hot coffee. However, as you try it out, don’t get disheartened if your first coffee brew requires fine-tuning. Percolating coffee takes some time, and it will most likely take more than a single attempt to perfect your percolator skills. But once you do, you will never view your drip coffee maker the same again.


Ignatius is the Editor of Best Coffee Hut, who considers himself as a coffee lover. He is passionate about learning the art of brewing amazing coffee since he has the most experience as a barista. He would love to help you to make a better cup of coffee every single time.

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