How to Use an Old-fashioned Coffee Percolator

How to Use an Old-fashioned Coffee Percolator
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Making coffee using an old-fashioned stovetop coffee percolator doesn’t have a great reputation.

Many coffee experts consider this the worst way to brew coffee. However, with a bit of patience and practice, you can learn how to use an old-fashioned coffee percolator.

Quick NavigationWhy Make Old-fashioned Percolator Coffee?Why it Has Become Less PopularMaking Old-fashioned Percolator CoffeeLet’s Start BrewingFINAL VERDICT

Why Make Old-fashioned Percolator Coffee?

Of course, making your own coffee using an old-fashioned coffee percolator is not nearly as convenient as using a modern electric coffee maker or buying takeaway coffee. Still, there’s something oddly soothing about brewing coffee like this.

Perhaps it’s the simple method or it could be the nostalgia of making a cup of coffee the way they did in the good old days. Whatever it may be, making coffee with an old-fashioned percolator is easy, and every coffee enthusiast should give it a try.

Why Make Old-fashioned Percolator Coffee

Why it Has Become Less Popular

You may be wondering why such a simple method of brewing a great cup of Joe has become less popular among coffee drinkers. There are a few reasons, the main ones being:

  • The coffee’s taste. Many people find that percolator coffee is too strong and bitter for their liking
  • Time-consuming. Brewing your coffee with a percolator takes a lot longer than other coffee brewing methods. Plus, you need to monitor the percolator as it brews, which many consider inconvenient
  • It’s old-fashioned. Brewing coffee with a percolator is the method our grandparents and parents did it before modern technology gave us faster, more convenient machines.

Whether you agree with these reasons or not, the reality is that there are very few coffee drinkers who still use this brewing method. However, there are still a few who swear by old-fashioned percolators.

Making Old-fashioned Percolator Coffee

Making Old-fashioned Percolator Coffee

Let’s have a look at how to make old-fashioned coffee using a stovetop percolator. Before you start, you need to gather everything you need to make your percolator coffee.

What you need

  • Percolator
  • Coffee grinder
  • Coffee grounds or beans
  • Water
  • Stove
  • Measuring spoons and cups

The list has pretty basic tools and ingredients which shouldn’t be hard to find.

Let’s Start Brewing

When you have all your tools and ingredients, you can get started on making your old-fashioned percolator coffee.

  1. Grind the coffee beans Consider how many cups you need to make. You need one tablespoon of coffee for every 8 ounces of water. When grinding the beans, ensure you set it to coarse ground. Finely ground coffee will make its way into the water and the coffee.
  2. Add water. Add the water to the percolator’s reservoir. Check that you have correctly matched the water to the coffee so it isn’t too strong or weak.
  3. Add the coffee chamber and tube. Most percolators are identical, so they all have a coffee chamber and a tube that the water percolates through. Once the water is in the percolator, add the chamber and tube into the percolator.
  4. Put the grounds into the basket. Add the coffee grounds into the percolator’s basket. Don’t use too many grounds – even if it looks like it is too little, this sort of coffee is stronger than other brewed coffee. Stick with the ratio and it should be perfect.
  5. Heat the percolator. Put your stove on medium heat and put your percolator in the middle of the heating element. It is vital that the water heats slowly, allowing it to almost reach boiling point without actually boiling. Adjust the heat carefully and slowly if needed.
  6. Monitor your coffee. Listen for a sputtering, gurgling sound in the top chamber. The faster the sputtering, the hotter the water is. The stove is at the right temperature when the sputtering occurs every 2 – 3 seconds. If it is faster, the element is too hot.
  7. Continue percolating. Once you have reached the optimal temperature, let it percolate for around 10 minutes while keeping a close eye on the sputtering. If you prefer weaker coffee, percolate the coffee for less time. This may take a bit of experimenting to get the perfect strength.
  8. Take the percolator off the stove and remove the coffee grounds. Once finished, remove the percolator from the stove. Use an oven mitt as it will be hot. Open the lid and take out the grounds immediately. If left in, they could spill into your coffee cup when you pour the coffee out. If this does occur, leave the coffee for a minute so the grounds sink to the bottom of the cup, and remember they are there as you drink.
  9. Enjoy a delicious cup of percolated coffee. Add cream, milk, or sugar to your cup and make it just the way you like it. Then, sit back and enjoy.


Old-fashioned percolator coffee may not be as popular as it once was. And while it is a slow method of brewing a strong cup of coffee, there is nothing quite like it. Despite how complicated it may look, it is easy to make, and coffee percolators make a coffee stronger than even a drip maker could hope for.

Recommended Product
GSI Outdoors 8 Cup Enamelware Percolator Coffee Pot for Brewing Coffee over Stove and Fire | Ideal for Campsite, Cabin, RV, Kitchen, Groups, Backpacking
  • Stay Caffeinated: Coffee? Always! The enamelware percolator makes your caffeine needs attainable for any campsite, cabin, RV, or even a retro farmhouse kitchen.
  • Sturdy Structure: Built from heavy-gauge steel with a Classic, handsome speckled enamel finish, every piece has been kiln-hardened twice at 1000 degrees F to stand up to scratches and chipping.
  • BREW THAT PERFECT CUP OF JOE: The Percolator’s three-ply construction maximizes heat distribution for even cooking. Note: percolators measure a cup of coffee in 5 oz. cup, instead of a typical 1 cup used in cooking
  • A Sight to See: Watch your coffee brew through the unbreakable resin cap. Coffee isn’t just a drink, but an experience.
  • Lifetime Promise: GSI Outdoors spent over 30 years building quality, performance products and stands behind them 100%. GSI Outdoors warranties all products for the original owner against manufacturing defects for the lifetime of the product.

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