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.
- 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.
- 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.
Most modern percolators are the electric variety - they plug into a wall outlet and are a self-contained unit.
Most electric percolators use a stainless steel basket with quite large perforations, which makes select the appropriate grind important. You do not want to use a paper filter with these, as it could prevent proper drainage and flow, and cause the coffee to spill over.
There are also stove top percolators, which are meant to be placed on a stove surface instead of plugged in, and these are different from moka pots.
Percolator vs. Vacuum pots
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.
Percolator vs. Moka Pot
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.
How to choose a percolator
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 snob, but it will produce a cup of coffee on par with most coffees brewed at home in a regular drip pot coffee maker. 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.
Coleman brand percolators are a line of percolators designed for outdoor use at campsites, picnics and barbecues. They're rugged and specifically designed to be used over campfires, similar to stove-top models.
User reviews seem to indicate that while the outside is durable, the glass knob on top, and aluminum basket, can be problematic over the long run.
Be sure to follow the instructions provided when you purchase your brewer.
Hamilton Beach Percolators
Hamilton Beach manufactures a line of stainless steel electric percolators with detached electrical cords, making them portable. While initial usage indicates that these make good coffee, quickly, there are a large number of complaints that the machine stops working under a year. Make sure to get a good warranty.
West Bend Percolators
West Bend is a brand that manufactures large-scale percolators, labeled as "urns". The distinction between a regular percolator and an urn appears to be that an urn is meant for serving large quantities of coffee, such as at events.
They come with a dispensing spout (spigot) near the bottom of the machine that makes it easy to dispense coffee without tipping the machine.
Urns and percolators operate off the same principles.
re: RE: Is the Altitude a factor?
You know this is something I had not considered before but it makes a certain amount of sense.
re: 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?
re: 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.
re: 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!
re: 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.
re: Previous comment (n of 1...) is reply to von magnum
Grrr, crappy web forms don't respect threading....
re: 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.
You go Perkus!
re: 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.
re: They're called "sheeple" and
They're called "sheeple" and they are a surprisingly abundant species....
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
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.
re: 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 😉
re: 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
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.
re: 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.
re: 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.
re: Bravo!Â 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.
re: 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.
re: 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.
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!
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. [email protected]
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!
re: 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.
re: 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.
re: 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...
Scott the coffee lover
re: 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.
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.
re: 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 â€œChock Full of Nutsâ€ or â€œMaxwell House.â€ 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 â€œthis is the best cup of coffee I've ever had.â€ 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.
re: 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.
re: 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...
re: 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.
re: 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.
re: 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.
re: 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.
re: 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?
re: 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
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?
re: RE: I haven't seen the 1961
Interesting. If you are interested in the video it is linked in the article.
re: 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.
re: 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.
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.
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.
re: 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.
re: 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.
re: 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.
re: 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!".
re: 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.
re: 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.
re: 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.