If you love strong and hot coffee, you might be a percolator coffee fan. It’s easy to use, inexpensive and provides the perfect cup of coffee that is both flavorful and strong.
Plus, you can find many different types of percolators available on the market in this day and age.
There are many times when coffee percolators come in handy. If you’re on an outdoor trip with your loved ones or planning a backyard barbecue at your place, coffee percolators are a must-have. You can use it to brew the perfect cup of coffee that you need to enjoy in the outdoors or during a party.
This article will explain what coffee percolation is, what it means for your coffee, and how it works.
So let’s get started!
In this Article
What is a percolator?
A coffee percolator is a device that uses steam pressure to brew coffee. This is just a modified version of drip coffee makers; it’s the same process, only it uses steam instead of water for brewing.
The machine works by dripping boiling water over the coffee grounds, which are contained in a basket, causing the grounds to be infused with hot water and producing that rich and flavorful cup of coffee in just about five minutes or less.
Types of Coffee Percolators
There are several types of percolators available. Depending on the design, the results may differ, or the techniques for using a percolator may vary.
There are three major styles of coffee percolators you can find on the market:
1. Pressure Percolator
A pressure percolator utilizes steam pressure to brew coffee. It uses a large, tempered glass or stainless steel container that holds the boiling water and grounds.
The container is fitted with a lid that has an opening with a faucet. As the water is heated, it vaporizes and rises, forcing the water through the coffee grounds.
The pressure percolator is one of the most basic types of percolators. Most people will only need to use a pressure percolator once or twice in their lifetime.
2. Gravity Percolator
A gravity-type coffee percolator uses steam pressure to brew coffee. It has a lid with an opening that can be closed or removed.
The lid also has a hole in the center that allows steam to escape. Once the water reaches boiling temperature, it filters down into the coffee basket and extracts itself through the grounds at a low temperature.
This type of Percolator will produce the best results with water being moderately hot. You will need to leave the valve open for approximately ten to fifteen seconds whenever you insert fresh grinds into the basket, even if you don’t intend to brew another cup immediately.
If you fail to do so, the Percolator will continue to pass steam pressure through the coffee.
3. Electric Percolator
An electric type of Percolator is similar to a stovetop model, but it has a different design, and a heating element powers it.
This type of Percolator works well, especially if you’re looking for an easier way to make your cup of coffee with minimal effort.
It’s very easy to use. The electric Percolator is perfect for the busiest of schedules, especially when you’re in a hurry to get out the door and have coffee on the go before you leave work. It doesn’t require any setup or preparation time, it is also helpful if you’re busy and don’t have time to use a stovetop model.
4. Stovetop percolator
A stovetop percolator is the most efficient and simple way to make coffee. It is also referred to as the cowboy coffee maker because of its old design used by cowboys in the past. It is, however, a bit more complicated than other types of percolators.
The stovetop type comes with a large capacity and base that sits on top of your kitchen stove. It also has a metal basket that holds the coffee grounds while it’s brewing.
The stovetop percolator is usually used when you want to use a larger amount of coffee beans and need to have an enormous cup of coffee.
For this type of Percolator to work well, you need to take time and care in the preparation process because not all stovetops have the same temperature settings.
While some models are equipped with a self-cleaning feature, others need manual cleaning.
5. Siphon Brewer
A siphon brewer is a unique type of Percolator. It’s different from other types of percolators because it operates by using the principle of siphoning. It’s the same as a stovetop percolator.
Still, it contains a special glass vessel known as the vacuum brewer, which sits above the container and has a smaller hole in its base, allowing steam to be vented upward into the coffee grounds.
In the siphon brewer, you will need to use a hand-crank to pump water out of the reservoir and carry it down into the coffee basket. This is a more advanced type of Percolator in that it requires knowledge of how to work with the siphon brewer before you can use it.
It is not recommended for people who are just starting with this type of Percolator.
Now, coming to the main topic of discussion,
How does coffee percolator work?
In this section, we will look at the basic process of how a percolator works. Even though there are many different types of coffee percolators, using one is still very easy. Here’s what you need to know:
What items do you need?
- The Percolator
- Coffee grounds
- Hot water
Here is how a percolator coffee maker works:
- Boil the water. Put a moderate amount of water into the reservoir and put it on the stove.
- Switch on the machine and wait for it to heat up. Ensure you don’t put too much hot water at this stage, as there will be plenty more left for brewing coffee later.
- Once the water starts heating up, start adding coffee grounds into the basket provided in your Percolator. You can purchase coffee beans in bulk, and the grounds could be obtained from an already brewed cup.
- Once you’ve added some coffee grounds into your Percolator, close the machine’s lid and wait for it to heat up further. When you see the steam begin to rise from the basket, start turning the knob on your Percolator clockwise to let out steam. You will see foam form inside your coffee maker, and that is what ensures that all of your coffee has been extracted.
- If you are making only one coffee cup, you can stop here, and your coffee is ready for consumption. If you want to make another cup of coffee at a later stage, then continue the steps outlined above till the steam is formed inside the Percolator but before it rises. This ensures that the water in the basket gets heated up again and thus brewing another cup of coffee.
- When you see steam rising out of your Percolator, slowly close the lid and turn off your machine. Heat the water again to make another cup of coffee.
Now you should have a basic understanding of how does a percolator work and also what you need to do to make your very own cups of coffee using this amazing machine.
Tips on how to get the best out of your Percolator
Whether you have an old-fashioned coffee percolator or an electric drip machine, remember a few handy tips to get the most out of your coffee maker.
Here are some of them:
- Use fine grinds for better taste. The coarse ground is best for drip machines, whereas a traditional percolator will do well with medium-fine grinds. If you want to control the strength of your coffee, then choose finer grinds that will release more aroma and less bitterness into your cup.
- Depending on your Percolator, you might need to adjust the time it takes to brew your coffee. The waters will flow through more quickly when using a siphon (Percolator) and slower when using a drip machine.
- Make sure you let the coffee cool down before pouring out of the Percolator, as this will prevent any spills from happening when the hot vapor is released into your cup.
- Use your Percolator for only about 10 to 15 minutes each day. Once it’s cool, you’ll find that the coffee flavor will be much more intense and that you can extract more aroma from your grounds when you brew again later.
- If you use a percolator regularly, make sure not to let water in the reservoir become too cool, as this will cause the coffee to get weaker. This is because hot water is better at dissolving solids evenly.
- If you want a more consistent flavor, then be sure to clean your Percolator regularly. Once a week should do the trick. If your Percolator is not insulated, then you should try to clean it as often as possible.
- Never use bleaching chemicals when cleaning your machine. These chemicals could leave a residual taste in your coffee pot, and they will also strip any protective coating from the outside of the reservoir or handle on the machine.
- You should always dry the outside of your coffee machine after cleaning it. Otherwise, you could promote rusting and other forms of corrosion.
FAQs – using a percolator:
1. Why is my coffee so weak?
The reason Percolator may produce weaker coffee is because it doesn’t extract all of the coffee flavors from the bean. This is done by using a siphon to push out air and keep the water flowing through.
However, if you have a weak-tasting coffee, then you might be able to fix the problem by installing a showerhead into your Percolator.
A shower head allows you to force water up so that it flows through into your cup more quickly. This also helps to maximize the flavor of your coffee.
2. Does my coffee get bitter?
If you want to avoid having a bitter cup of percolator coffee, try not to let it sit in the pot for long periods, as this will allow the flavor to get stronger.
It’s a good idea to put your Percolator on a separate burner so that it’s not heating up with other pots or pans on the stove.
3. How do I clean my Percolator?
Preventative maintenance is the key to avoiding your Percolator from becoming clogged. You will need to use a paper towel and water to wipe down your Percolator after every brew.
Make sure you rinse the inside of your machine with water after each use, as there are coffee grounds that could be left behind if you do not. To remove any leftover grounds, empty the basket and dry it with a paper towel before refilling.
Once a week, you should clean your Percolator with some vinegar before you use water when cleaning the inside of your machine. Vinegar will remove any mineral deposits that may have accumulated.
4. How long will my coffee stay fresh in the pot?
It’s normal for your Percolator to start to lose flavor after about 30 minutes. The reason for this is that percolators are designed to brew a full pot of coffee quickly.
If you want to extend the life of your coffee, then follow these steps:
- Use a paper coffee filter. This will not only help keep your Percolator clean but will also prevent any grounds from making it into your cup.
- Allow your Percolator to cool down before pouring out the coffee. Your coffee will have time to cool down rather than being forced as it flows through the machine.
- Enjoy your coffee as quickly as possible after brewing to capture the most flavor. If you must brew a pot of coffee and enjoy it later, then you should keep your Percolator at room temperature. This will prevent the flavor from getting into contact with any plastic that may have been exposed to hot temperatures while the appliance was brewing.
5. What is the best way to clean a coffee siphon?
You need to take care when you clean your coffee siphon percolator.
If you don’t know how to properly clean a percolator, then here are some guidelines.
- You need to have plenty of hot water ready for use before you start cleaning it. If not, then you could end up with a scalded or burned hand.
- Pour the water into the reservoir and wait for it to cool off. This will help reduce the risk of burning yourself on the cooling Percolator.
- Once you see that your coffee maker is cool, pour out as much water as possible.
- With a piece of paper towel, lift the basket and remove any leftover coffee grounds from your machine. Blow out any air inside with a strong breath of air to make sure there is no food for bacteria to grow within your Percolator.
- Dry the inside of your machine off with a paper towel to prevent any microscopic water spots from forming in your Percolator.
- Fill up the reservoir with clean water and place it back on the burner. Turn on your Percolator and let the cycle through twice. You should find that after this process, the coffee in your pot should taste much better.
- Pour the water out of your Percolator and place it in the sink. Run the hot water on it for a few minutes to get any remaining food particles out of your machine. Dry the exterior of the Percolator with a paper towel before putting it away.
- Don’t put your coffee maker away wet, as this will increase the risk of rust forming, thus shortening its lifespan by years.
Final Words on Using a Coffee Percolator
Many people might argue against using a product that seems quite old-fashioned, with little-to-no digitization or automation involved in the whole process.
If you know how to use a percolator to make coffee, you’ll still be amazed by its bold taste.
It’s not just about the coffee; Outdoor activities can use a stovetop percolator, too. They give you the freedom to enjoy your beverage and all the flavors it holds without the need for a specific dining table or weather-friendly cooking equipment.
Coffees are a lot of work, but they can be worth it. We recommend at least once owning a decent coffee percolator to learn how to make coffee in the best way – and experience the taste and aroma of your drink. We are sure you won’t be disappointed.
Thanks for reading!