Using a percolator is a simple way to make a bold and unique cup of coffee. Stovetop coffee percolators have been around since 1880 and have not really changed all that much through the years. Prior to the invention of the percolator, coffee connoisseurs were forced to try and drink their cuppa around the grounds hanging out in the bottom of their mug.
The percolator must have been a miracle in its heyday! If you’re thinking about trying out this retro way to make coffee, this article will tell you everything you need to know: how percolators work, what kind of coffee to use and how to grind it to ensure a good cup of joe.
How does a percolator work?
Percolators work by boiling water on the stove to create bubbles that are forced through a stem into an upper chamber where the coffee grounds are placed.
The boiling water is sprayed over the coffee grounds which then drips down to the reservoir. The process continues over and over until you take the coffee off of the heat. Most percolators have a window or a see-thru knob at the top so you can judge by color when your coffee is done.
How does it taste?
Coffee percolators sometimes get a bad rap in the coffee making world. The coffee grounds are submerged over and over in the boiling water, which can lead to over-brewed, bitter coffee. In order to remedy that, you must keep a careful eye on your percolator.
This is not a set it and forget it way to make coffee in the morning. Through trial and error, you can find what brewing time is perfect for your tastes. The resulting coffee will be strong and somewhat dry, which some people enjoy immensely.
Why would you want to make coffee using a percolator?
For starters, it’s simple, cheap and effective. Stovetop percolators have no fancy buttons, use no electricity, and only require ground coffee, water, and a heat source.
Often times people use percolators to make coffee over an open fire while camping where there isn’t an option to plug in a traditional drip coffee maker. Even if you do have electricity at your disposal, trying out a stovetop percolator could be a fun experiment, and who knows, you might find your new favorite way to make coffee.
Do you need special coffee for a percolator?
Yes, you cannot use just any pre-ground coffee beans from the store. A stovetop percolator has large holes in the basket that holds the grounds, and a paper liner is not used like in a traditional drip coffee maker. This is to ensure even distribution of the boiling water and saturation of all the grounds.
In order to not have a cup full of grounds when you’re done drinking, you need to grind your own beans coarsely either at the store or with your own grinder. Choose any type of whole bean coffee you enjoy, just remember that the resulting drink will be stronger and more bitter when using a percolator compared to a traditional brewing method.
Different types of coffee grinders
There are three types of coffee grinders available: burr, electric blade, and manual. Burr grinders are mostly seen in coffee shops since they are very expensive, very large and the very best. They use two plates or cones to smash the beans to the perfect size, every time. They are not very practical for the home user due to the price tag and amount of countertop real estate they command.
Next, is the most commonly used electric blade grinder. It’s a food processor for your beans, using a spinning flat blade to chop up the coffee. This choice is not ideal for a percolator since the size of the grounds are never completely uniform. Last but not least is a manual grinder which is time-consuming and muscle building, but it creates uniform grounds every time, with total control of the size.
Is a percolator a good choice for the average coffee drinker?
Choosing to try out a stovetop percolator is a great idea for anyone. They are relatively cheap, so if the resulting brew isn’t to your liking, you’re not out a huge monetary investment.
It’s a fun way to try something new, and they’ve been around for over a century, so somebody has to be enjoying the coffee produced by them. If you ever find yourself without electricity, rest assured that you can still have your precious cup of coffee if you have a percolator tucked away in the back of a kitchen cabinet.