Do you ever feel that modern life is far too complicated?
Do you yearn for simpler times when the world wasn’t filled with gadgets and smart appliances?
If that sounds like you, you might be thinking of buying an old-style coffee maker – so here’s our review of the best coffee percolator.
If you want a laugh before you continue reading, watch this amusing video of a guy failing miserably to use a percolator! (bad language alert!)
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Best Coffee Percolator Buying Guide
Clearing up some confusion
There is a little confusion over what a percolator actually is, so let’s clear that up first.
Where does the confusion come from? Well, it comes from the terminology since “percolation” refers to a process used in many methods of coffee making whereas a “percolator” is a specific type of coffee maker.
According to oxforddictionaries.com, “percolation” means “filter gradually through a porous surface or substance” (1). In coffee making, this refers to any method where the water filters through the grounds and the coffee produced is collected in a container, usually below.
This includes methods such as pour-over, electric drip coffee machine and, of course, percolator.
We can contrast this with methods that use full immersion for brewing, such as with a French press, where the grounds are completely immersed in water and the coffee is infused
In other words, not all machines that use the percolation method are correctly called percolators.
Check out this video to see what we mean – the guy constantly refers to his coffee maker as a percolator, but what he is actually using is a Moka pot.
So what is a coffee percolator?
A true percolator is an old-style coffee maker that has rather fallen out of favor in recent years with the advent of the electric drip machine and then, more recently, Keurig-style pod-based machines.
Percolators were invented in the 19th century specifically to brew coffee without using full immersion, the prevalent technique of the time.
A percolator consists of several separate parts: the pot, the funnel, a basket or filter and the lid.
First, the water goes into the pot. Next, you fix the funnel and the basket in place and fill the basket with ground coffee. Finally, you place the lid on the top and place the percolator over a heat source.
The water in the pot turns to steam, creating pressure and forcing the water up the funnel. The water reaches the top of the funnel and “percolates” through the coffee grounds in the basket and back down into the pot. This is repeated until you remove the percolator from the heat source.
Check out this video if you want to see how to use one.
Advantages of using a coffee percolator
There a couple of advantages of choosing to brew coffee with a percolator.
Probably the most obvious advantage is the pure simplicity of the device. You put the water inside, you put the coffee in the basket, you close it all up and you place it on the heat. All you have left to do is wait a few minutes until it is ready to serve.
They are easy to clean and there are no complicated electronics that might break down. A percolator won’t scale up and like some coffee machines can, and if you buy a good one, it should last you for many years.
Finally, there is the simple pleasure of making coffee in such a timeless way. Until the 1970s and the arrival of the Mr. Coffee drip machines, percolators had been the most popular way of making fresh coffee in the US for generations.
Some people will enjoy making coffee in the same way it was made when their parents were growing up and their parents before them.
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And one disadvantage
There is also one big disadvantage with percolators and that is that you need to keep a close eye on them to make sure the coffee doesn’t spoil.
Since percolators continue to recycle the water over and over until you take them off the heat, it is easy to over-extract the coffee. If you leave the percolator too long, the coffee will become extremely bitter and unpleasant to drink without adding heaps of sugar and lots of milk.
Perhaps in the past, that was just the way people drank coffee and they didn’t really know better – but now in the modern world, coffee is seen as something quite different, and many people now prefer a more refined brew.
How to choose a good coffee percolator
There are basically two types of the percolator, a stovetop percolator, and an electric percolator.
A stovetop percolator doesn’t have its own heat source and needs to be placed on top of the stove to heat, as the name suggests. An electric percolator, on the other hand, has an electric heater and needs to be plugged in to work.
There are advantages to both kinds. Obviously, a stovetop percolator is better when you have no access to a power source. They also might tend to last longer since there are no electric parts that might wear out and break down.
The advantage of an electric percolator is that it can be more practical to use than a stovetop one. However, both are perfectly good choices and the decision is really up to your own personal preference.
Another advantage with some electric models is that they are able to tell when the coffee is brewed and switch to a “keep warm” mode to avoid over-extracting your coffee.
The Best Coffee Percolator Reviews of 2019
1. Farberware Classic Stainless Steel Yosemite Coffee Percolator (Our Top Recommended)
This stovetop percolator is the ultimate in simplicity.
You put the water and coffee inside as described above, place it on the stove and in a few minutes, the delicious aromas of fresh percolated coffee will begin to fill your kitchen.
It is constructed of rugged Stainless-Steel and features a non-reactive interior to ensure no unwanted flavors are imparted to your coffee.
The plastic knob allows you to see when percolation begins, the stay-cool handle makes it safe to handle and it is 100% dishwasher friendly.
A great option for a basic, inexpensive percolator designed to last for years.
2. Hamilton Beach 40621R 8 Cup Stainless Steel Percolator
This attractive Stainless-Steel percolator from Hamilton Beach can make up to eight cups of piping hot coffee as quickly as a cup per minute. It overcomes the problem of over-extracted coffee by switching to “keep warm” mode when percolation has finished and coffee is ready to serve.
This is an electric percolator with a light that comes on when coffee is fully brewed.
It can also be used as a kettle to boil water when you want to make drinks other than coffee.
What we like about this percolator is that it is an updated version of the basic traditional percolator that produces rich and robust coffee without over-extracting, as is possible in more traditional percolators.
3. West Bend 54159 Classic Stainless Steel Electric Coffee Percolator
This is another electric percolator with a “ready to serve” light and a keep warm function.
This means that the water will stop recycling when brewing is complete, avoiding the problem of over-extracted coffee that is common with more basic percolators.
It can make 2-12 cups, is constructed of Stainless-Steel, has a heat-resistant base and handle and features a detachable cord for table-top serving.
This is a well-designed and reasonably priced percolator ideal for making coffee at breakfast time or for serving after dinner.
4. Cook N Home 8-Cup Stainless Steel Stovetop Coffee Percolator
This model from Cook N Home is an attractive classic-style stovetop percolator that can make up to eight cups of coffee.
It is made of non-reactive Stainless-Steel, includes an easy-to-clean permanent filter, a drip-free spout and a plastic knob that allows you to see inside.
Note that this percolator is not compatible with induction plates but works well on all other types of stove.
A great option for someone who wants a reliable percolator with no frills that is built to last.
5. Coletti "Bozeman" Percolator Coffee Pot
With its stylish nostalgic look, this “Bozeman” model from Coletti is perhaps the most aesthetically pleasing of all the percolators on our list – although it’s also the most expensive.
This stovetop percolator can make up to nine cups of full-flavored and rich coffee each time.
It includes a permanent metal filter but is also compatible with paper filters for those who wish to use them.
A great upgrade pick for someone who wants a high-quality and great-looking old-style percolator and who doesn’t mind paying a little extra.
All good choices
Any of these percolators would make excellent choices.
If you want a percolator that stops brewing when coffee is done, either of the electric models is recommended; if you prefer a traditional version, the three stovetop percolators are all great picks.
Do you use a percolator at home? Do you have an electric one or a stovetop? Do you remember your grandparents preparing coffee like this? Which method do you prefer?
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My name is Kathy Gallo, Editor of Ag Ferrari, a Coffee buff. The guide you find here is designed exactly for you, and it is our hope that you find it not only interesting but also actionable.