Percolators get a bad rap

by 01becko
(Lex KY)

Electric coffee percolators - a  favorite in many kitchens.

Electric coffee percolators - a favorite in many kitchens.

Even though percolators overextract grounds, what a percolator does is insulate coffee from its worst enemy, which is air.

If you buy vintage, the trick is getting one with stainless steel-- not aluminum-- innards.

I perk, turn down the heat if it adjusts, and then remove the basket and pole. Pot stays relatively balanced for a good hour.

More on coffee percolators:

Drip or Percolated coffee...which is best?

Sunbeam AP-20 automatic 10-cup percolator.

Stove top coffee percolator.

Percolators are the best!

New seal for the Sunbeam C-30A vacuum coffee maker?

West Bend 5-9 cup Percolator.

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Oct 04, 2009
perc coffee
by: Anonymous

I have always thought that perk coffee had the deepest flavor with the greatest depth and texture.

I believe on subsequent passing of the water over the grounds gets the deeper aspects of the beans to the brew....

after perk it took me a long while to get used to drip,,,, it seemed to me that it was lacking.. no matter what brand of pot or brand of coffee....

michael d

Mar 09, 2010
BIG LIE: Electric Percolators Boil Coffee
by: NewsView

The boiling complaint against percolator coffee is so often repeated that it isn't even questioned anymore.

But it should be.

Would we expect a MR COFFEE drip brewer built in 1973 to compare to today's drip coffeemaker with all the bells & whistles?

Probably not.

Similarly, electric percolators have evolved. They may look the same as they did years ago, but have any of these so-called coffee experts bothered to take a closer look since they were, oh, about 9 years old and didn't drink ANY coffee back then, let alone the perc variety?

The only part that is still true of modern electric percs is that coffee passes over the grounds more than once in the brew process. If you don't like that, fair complaint. If, on the other hand, you think ANY perc coffee will taste bad, that's because you haven't HAD any. Your readers aren't dumb: We can see through someone who is repeating what they've heard vs. what they know firsthand.

Anyone can make bad coffee using ANY method. You've heard it said that "Guns don't kill people, people do." Well, I say "Coffee brewing isn't the cause of bad coffee, people are."

Assuming you get the technique down right and all other factors are properly accounted for, perc coffee is very good and it smells better too. Did you know that from an olfactory science point of view that MUCH of what we consider "taste" is actually influenced by smell? Yep. But the proponents of coffee brewing urban legend would also have us believe that great aroma = poor flavor. Again, another tip-off that the so-called experts are only repeating hearsay. And we all know how reliable secondhand info. 100x removed is!

Take it from the many people who weigh in on this topic when the subject comes up here and elsewhere on the web: Those who have tried perc coffee from a MODERN electric brewer that keeps brew temps in the ideal range prefer it. Sure you have to do a few things, like take out the spent grinds after the brew cycle is complete and not re-perc the coffee over and over again to keep it warm. But there are similar caveats about not leaving drip coffee to bake on the warming plate all day ? and we don't uniformly disparage drip brewers! Every coffee brewing method has its Dos and Don'ts. The fact that it is possible to mess up the coffee isn't cause to discount the entire method.

In closing, folks need to be encouraged to make up their own minds. Problem is, this isn't the type of message we get while reading what the "experts" have to say. Anytime somebody tells you how you MUST to do something, that's arrogance talking.

Ignore it and buck the trend.

Nov 24, 2010
I love electric percolators
by: Joanne

I used a Farberware electric percolator for many, many years and was quite happy with the quality of the coffee it brewed. Then along came this new, so-called wonderful coffee maker from Mr. Coffee. Since several of our friends had purchased this new marvel drip coffee maker I finally caved. For years I used drip makers and for years I really was not satisfied with them. I owned both inexpensive drip makers and expensive ones. In 1993 I purchased a new Farberware percolator coffee pot. I am still happily using it 365 days a year and it, like the Energizer Bunny, simply keeps on making excellent coffee. I use a good brand of coffee and feel that is one important thing to consider. No drip makers or one-cup wonders for me. I'm staying with my reliable electric percolator.

Aug 09, 2012
I been there done that....
by: Cindy

I grew up with both stove top coffee perc from my grandparents house and the occasional treat at my own parents, though we did have the electric perc maker. I grew up drinking coffee; you know the kind of family that had morning and afternoon coffee.

Well along came Mr Coffee in the 70's and this changed everything. I still drank my coffee but I seemed to never be truly excited about it. Yes some days it would "hit the spot" but then most days it simply did not.

Flash forward to 2010 when while at work (we had a drip machine) the neighboring office came in with their perc machine and offered us an afternoon cup - it was a long day and I obliged. To the wonder of my taste buds I was in heaven! The flavor I had missed all these years had returned! Now this was the coffee I loved and remembered and missed.

OMG - I went to the store on my way home and bought me a pot. I wasn't even sure if they still made them. I

All I can say is this - to those who have never tried perc coffee you don''t know what your missing. In fact you may LOVE your drip coffee that your current expectations don't even allow you to appreciate the fullness of perc coffee. But to me there is no other coffee, period.

Enjoy your coffee how you like, don't listen to others - taste is subjective. But if you wish to try a rich full cup of joe, give it a try, you just might be surprised :)

Aug 14, 2012
yeaaaaaaa for perc ! ! ! !
by: pistachio

ok,, I agree,,,,

....perc is really way way underrated....
and I have had electric percolators and the best of that bunch was not the Farberware but the Universal with the long goose neck spout that would pour coffee silently - enough said....

to continue - stove top perc is even better but yu have to watch so not to boil the you have to attend to the pot And you have to know when to stop the heat and end the perking. Nothing here is automatic and there is no remote control [ LoL ] for a stove top perc pot !

ok,, the only other cool coffee pot that I have a lot of respect for is the magic of the Silex pot but more on that another time.

one thing though / Silex is magical in that the water rises to the top vessel in an anti-gravity sort of way and these pots were glass so you could see it happen and to add that the coffee was placed in the top vessel so you would see the color coming out of the beans to the clear water - very very cool ! ! ! !

But,,,,, I think coffee needs more than just water dripping through and only once and the swimming effect in the silex really for me is way too passive.... to grab all of the flavor in the beans. Really, if we were making macaroni then swimming is fine but I like to think that a little agitation is a good thing - just like when when washing clothes to extract the dirt or using a citrus cone /|\ when making orange juice....

Perk I think is like active working process, coaxing all of the coffee out of the beans by repeatedly washing out the coffee essences from The Bean To The Brew [ haha ! ].

Not to mention the fantastic aroma pumping out of the pot at each perc and then that is all very pleasing.....


Jan 31, 2013
Old School Cool
by: Tim

RIGHT ON! PERK ALL THE WAY! Yea, if you boil you spoil. Thats what gave all those old stovetop perks a bad rap. You absolutly need to pay careful attention to brewing process with a stovetop.
I'm old school, all stainless with a touch of glass. Plastic never touches my java! Mr. Coffee moved in back in the 70s and told everybody that those good old perks were "boiling your coffee", if thats true then why does every perk I own start percolating when the pot is still icy cold? (I add ice to my pot) Its because the water in the tube is hotter than the water in the pot; hot water rises; spouts over the top and flows through the coffee/filter basket; presto change-o great cup a joe. And. . . a classy piece of ameicanna sits on your kitchen counter top. No filters to buy, or timers to set. I get up early, take my time and get it right.

Feb 16, 2015
Vintage Percolators RULE !
by: Bobby B.

After 20+ years of using (and replacing)various drip-type coffeemakers, just for the heck of it, I tried the old West Bend electric perc unit. Not an automatic maker, I learned that you had to pay close attention to the timing for best results.

After a bit of research, I found the answer....the Universal Coffeematic Model 4582, a stunningly beautiful chrome Art-Deco piece that looked like it had never been used since it rolled off the assembly line in 1956. It worked as good as it looked, brewing rich, delicious coffee (pours at 172 degrees F), the entire process takes about 16 minutes start-to-finish, for a 10-cup pot. Brewing strength is adjustable, from "Mild" to "Strong", via a sliding switch near the bottom of the pot, which also contains the red "Ready" light which appears at the end of the brew cycle,then automatically goes into the "Hold/Warm"cycle, holding the contents right at 170 degrees, without degrading the quality of the coffee. There is also a small adjustment knob
on the bottom, you can fine-tune the temperature to your liking.

This particular unit was Universal`s Top-Of-The-Line percolator in 1956, having a retail price of $33.95, which was about a half a week`s take-home pay for most working folks back then !

I`ve been using this perc for 2 years now, and just bought another one as back-up. I would never go back to a drip maker, my humble antique makes better coffee than my neighbor`s fancy-schmancy $400 maker....

Drink up !

Mar 12, 2016
by: Anonymous

Percolators produce a more flavorful coffee. My GE P17 stops brewing after a preset time. To those who keep mentioning that the coffee keeps getting poured over the what? Whether coffee runs through the grounds, or steamy water drips through the grounds...same thing !

Apr 22, 2016
Percolators Do Not Boil Coffee
by: pistachio

Perc is a Great method for making coffee.

Perc pots have a stanchion at the bottom of the stem that is like a small dome. In the center is the stem which is a tube ending at the top of the perc pot's basket container.

When you start to perc a pot the first perc takes place a few minutes in to the process. The water is not boiling and not even near boiling yet you start to see the percs.

The water under the dome is trapped and gets hot but not to boiling and rising up the tube it becomes even a little cooler being surrounded by the water above the dome.

It splashes at the top of the basket and begins to contact the grounds.....

This happens repeatedly and in the course of time all the water become increasingly hotter.... but never reaches a boil

In fact,, the coffee is ready in say 8 to 11 minutes and it has Never's hot.. and hotter than drip pots but not boiling...

I remember in the days when there was Only Perc.... that you had to be careful to catch the coffee when it was done and turn off the stove...

I think this is why Electric Perk pots became so popular,, because of Automatic OFF....

So,, what really was the thing to avoid was a Boil Over...

That is,,, the being on the stove Too Long the water in the pot did come to a boil and when that happened it happened pretty violently. I think because of the trapped water under the dome was shot up the tube Way Too Forcefully....

The result was quite a mess, because I think too much water went up the tube to fast causing it to spill over not draining through the grounds fast enough. The grounds would escape the basket and mix it to the water and of course the boiling would totally cook and ruin the coffee....

This was the Boil Over...

When you make perc,, once you see the first perc you put the flame way down....this makes the perc process slower and more controlled with better saturation of the coffee grounds.

The key to great perc coffee is getting it OFF THE STOVE at the right time. Science and timing aside... I remember the truth to be that when you can smell the coffee aroma [ which is beautiful and prominent with perc coffee ] the coffee is ready. Wake up and smell the coffee... LoL !

As an aside I remember the first drip pots,,,

THEY MADE NO NOISE... this was a problem for the manufacturer who wanted to sell pots because consumers could not imagine a Silent Brew.

The noise heard now in Drip Pots when the brew has completed is Strictly Theatrics and placed there just to give the user the auditory satisfaction that true perc coffee brewing provides IN SPADES........

Jun 16, 2019
Percolators are my favorite
by: Anonymous

I started drinking coffee in the 60s when I was a little kid. The dripolators had not yet become available. Mom had an electric percolator, Grandma had a stovetop percolator.

I spent a decade employed at the Maxwell House main facility, and learned all the science about why my favorite brew method is wrong.

All around the plant, they used Bunn-O-Matic drip machines. Just like in every IHOP and waffle house you've ever been to. Those machines brew very predictable coffee, which is important in a restaurant.

In my shop, we had a moka pot, a vacuum pot, a stovetop percolator, an electric percolator, a french press, an espresso machine, and a monstrosity invented by one of the machinists.

We also had access to 20 different kinds of coffee beans, and excellent burr mill grinders. Roasters were all around us, and the roast color can be adjusted to taste. Over the years, I think I've tried every combination my crew could think of. We even got a pound of cat-poop coffee (Kopi Luwak)and tried it.

I like the stovetop percolator, with all the problems of over-extraction, overcooking, over-heating, etc. Any decent Arabica beans will do. It triggers fond memories of Grandma's kitchen, and occasional campfire coffee. I'll save my snobbery for my beer and cigar preferences.

I do have a K-cup machine in my kitchen. It's fine if you don't have time to wait, or if you're looking for a specialty flavor.

Jan 07, 2020
Percolator coffee please...
by: Anonymous

For the last ten years I have only owned percolators. I have read so much about how percolators create an acidic bitter coffee. Either the people writing these articles are just passing along wrong information, or they have something against percolators...LOL! My coffee is rich and hot. People always ask me what kind of coffee I'm using, even though I always change coffee brands.

Funny though, when I go to MOST coffee houses, that is when I taste the sour, acidic, bitter coffee. It always leaves me wanting my own coffee.

Nov 28, 2020
by: Freedom Cowboy

You can read coffee reviews all day long, and then someone will mention their method or vessel they use for brewing. And you'll never hear a mention of a percolator, I always think have you ever used a stove top percolator? Yeah they're are many ways to brew coffee, that I know, but do I care? No. I got a stove top.

Nov 23, 2022
Oh, Please
by: Nancy

Guess wha? I broke yet another one of those automatic coffee makers; today. I’m a long time coffee drinker. So I have always made sure I have the means to make coffee anytime I’m ready. I grew up with my parents loving coffee and they shared a Corning ware stove-top coffee pot! So I am very familiar with the stove -top percolator. I sat down thinking about the yet another inconvenient trip to the store to find a new coffee maker. Then it occurred to me that we have a small stove -top percolator downstairs in among our camping gear! I decided to go for it! I went down and brought it up, putting it to use right away! What struck me first when I quickly got it going was how simple! Then as I waited for the water to boil, I thought no plastic! Finally the nicest sound was happeningthat I’ve missed all these years , the percolating! Oh my gosh how I’ve missed that sound! The coffee is being brewed! I have always love that sound and sof course the smell coming with it!! It really does not take a long time. Very simple and very quick!I who cares about the precise temperature of water brewing my coffee! Then of course what great memories came flooding back to me of my parents and friends sitting around the kitchen table talking and laughing together while Dr inking their coffee! You know maybe this time I will just pass on making that trip and expensive trip to the store! Stove-top percolator a thing of the past? Oh please.

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