For many people, the first memories that they have of smelling fresh coffee in the morning are with a stovetop percolator. While this is now an old-fashioned method of making coffee in a world where we have highly technical systems for making coffee where everything can be automated with computers controlling every step of the process, it’s impossible to deny that some of the old methods for brewing coffee are still some of the best, and the stovetop percolator is definitely one of these, having stood the test of time. Find out more about how to use stovetop coffee maker.
Things to Consider Before Using a Stovetop Percolator
If you want to use a stovetop percolator, one of the main things to consider is that the coffee is going to be stronger compared to what most people are used to. For example, if you normally use an automatic drip coffee maker, the coffee that you make in the stovetop percolator is probably going to be a lot stronger. Along with being stronger, it’s also going to be hotter. This is because the coffee in a stovetop percolator is made at just under boiling point, meaning that you are left with a final brew that is seriously hot, and this is one of the things that many people like about this method of brewing coffee, especially on a cold morning.
When using a percolator, bear in mind that the coffee can appear cloudy. This is to be expected and does not mean that there is anything wrong with the coffee. It happens due to the fact that the coffee grounds circulate through the filter basket, and the water will continue pouring through to brew it. To get rid of the cloudiness, just take the pot off the heat and allow it to settle for a couple of minutes.
Finally, since there is no filter with a stovetop percolator, you can usually expect to have some sediment left over in your cup, unlike other methods that use a filter. This is normal, and nothing to worry about. You can pour the coffee through a strainer if you aren’t a fan of sediment in your cup.
Basics of Stovetop Percolators
The basics of a stovetop percolator are actually very simple. They consist of little more than simply a kettle and a system that is designed to draw the hot water upwards before allowing it to trickle through the grounds and brew the coffee. The word ‘percolate’ actually means filtering gradually through a porous substance or surface – in this case, the coffee grounds.
The mechanism of a stovetop percolator consists of a pot that has a small bottom chamber, which is connected to a central chamber or tube running to the top of the pot. The chamber at the top of the pot contains the ground coffee, and it is all placed inside a kettle. When you pour the water in and heat it up, the water will run through the bottom chamber and up through the tube where it will eventually filter through the upper chamber.
Advantages and Disadvantages
There are some advantages and disadvantages of using the best coffee percolator, just like with any type of coffee brewing methods. One of the most obvious advantages of using a stovetop percolator is just how simple the system is. There is usually not much to them, with three pieces at the most, so they’re an easy option for people who want to get started with brewing their own coffee at home quickly and don’t want to spend a huge amount of time learning complicated methods.
Along with this, the best percolator will be a very durable way of making coffee. The old-fashioned type tends to be made from stainless steel or aluminum, although the stainless-steel option is always the best choice of these two since aluminum is more likely to react with the coffee.
Another benefit of the stovetop percolator is that you can use it to brew smaller amounts of coffee. Unlike some other coffee machines and brewing methods that will have you making several cups at a time, it is fairly easy to use this method to brew a single cup of coffee.
Finally, another benefit to be aware of is the ease of cleaning and maintenance. There’s nothing complicated or intricate about this type of coffee maker, and they can usually be cleaned in a regular way just like your other dishes. You won’t need to descale it like a coffee machine, and regular soapy water will work well.
On the other hand, stovetop percolators do have some disadvantages. These include the risk of grounds escaping the filter chamber, which can lead to the common issue of recirculating coffee through the brewing process after it has already been brewed. While it might smell nice during brewing, your coffee will be bitter. The good news is that you can make some adjustments to get around this and avoid it from happening.
Types of Stovetop Percolator
There are two different types of stovetop percolators to consider. These include the pressure percolator and the gravity percolator. Gravity percolators are the most common option, and this involves the water bubbling up through the central tube before it falls through the grinds due to gravity.
On the other hand, pressure percolators aren’t really percolators, but a Moka pot. These use the same basic mechanisms as the gravity percolators, with a central chamber that the water moves upwards and through the coffee grinds. However, the difference with these is that the pressure percolator uses water and steam pressure to force water through the grounds similar to an espresso machine.
Brewing Coffee Using a Percolator
When it comes to making great coffee in your stovetop percolator, there are two main factors that you will need to consider. These include:
Grind: When using a stovetop percolator for making coffee, you should have a medium-sized grind. The grind size is an important factor to consider since if the grinds are too fine, this can end up being washed into your brewed coffee. Too coarse, and the water may not be able to extract enough for the coffee, which will waste the awesome taste. A burr grinder is the best choice for grinding your coffee beans as they are more consistent and offer greater control.
Water Temperature: The trickiest factor when brewing coffee with a percolator is making sure that the water temperature is controlled. Excessive heat causing the brewed coffee to be recirculated is one of the main reasons why stovetop percolators are more prone to making bitter coffee compared to other methods of coffee brewing. The good news is that there is an easy way to prevent this. To prevent over-brewing, simply monitor the percolator as it begins to heat up. Once you see the coffee percolating through the filter basket, turn down the heat. As a result, the brewing process will be gentler, leaving you with a rich, delicious pot of coffee.
Both these factors will require some practice and experimenting before you begin brewing coffee in your percolator.
How to make coffee in a percolator? To get started with using a stovetop percolator to make coffee, you will need around one tablespoon of ground coffee for every eight ounces of water that you use. You can use a coffee scale to make sure that your coffee grounds are measured out as precisely as possible. Start by filling your percolator kettle to the level you want, and then place the coffee grounds in the filter basket at the top of the tube. Insert the brewing mechanism and put the lid on.
Now, it’s time to start heating the percolator. You will find a small globe in the lid of the pot, where you should keep your eye on the coffee until it begins to ‘perk’. How long to perk coffee will usually be around a minute or so. Once you see this, turn the heat down. One ‘perk’ every 2-3 seconds is a good general rule to go by. It is too hot if there is coffee filling up inside the globe.
How long to percolate coffee? With a stovetop percolator, the brewing time is going to vary. In general, around five minutes from when you notice the first coffee ‘perk’ is typically an average brewing time that works well. Once your coffee has finished brewing, be sure to remove the interior chamber and the filter basket to avoid grounds falling into the coffee and make it easier to pour from the kettle.
Cleaning the Percolator
Finally, it’s good to know how to clean your percolator, which is a very simple process with not much to it. All you need to do is empty the grounds out and rinse out any leftover residue. You will usually be able to easily pop off the central chamber or tube from the filter basket, making it easy to rinse out in hot water. If you want to clean it thoroughly, you can get various dishwasher safe options.
If you want a simple, tried-and-tested way to make coffee, a stovetop percolator is an old-fashioned way of making coffee that still works well today.