While almost all coffee percolators are made from stainless steel, they do come in a range of shapes and sizes, each with its own pros and cons. Some are electric, some are stovetop, and some percolators are also dishwasher safe. Some percolators are able to brew coffee for two people while others are designed to cater for larger events. These are all things that you need to keep in mind when shopping for a percolator.
To help you in your search for the perfect coffee percolator, below we list our top picks in Australia. After that, we answer some key questions about coffee percolators so you can be more informed when making your selection.
Best Stove Top Percolator: Coletti Bozeman Coffee Percolator
The Coletti coffee percolator is made out of stainless steel and has a sturdy wooden handle. While it is designed for camping and the outdoors, it would also be perfectly suitable for use at home.
The Coletti can brew up to 9 cups of coffee at once and it is very simple and efficient to use. It is dishwasher safe and comes with 20 filters so that you can start brewing as soon as you receive it. This percolator is not designed for flat-top stoves.
Best for Commercial Use: Birko Coffee Percolator
The Birko coffee percolator has an impressive 20-litre capacity (around 100 cups of coffee). It is made out of stainless steel and includes welded joins to aid in transportation and cleaning.
This percolator is capable of making between 12 and 100 cups of coffee per hour, making it a great option for parties or events with larger crowds. The Birko comes with a keep-warm function and temperature control, keeping an ideal serving temperature until all the coffee has been served.
The brewing and serving indicator lights allow you to know once your coffee is ready. A filter basket or coffee filters are not needed.
Best Moka Pot: Bialetti Moka Express
The Bialetti Moka Express is an extremely popular stovetop coffee maker. While not technically a percolator (it uses a slightly different brewing method), the Moka pot remains an excellent stove-top brewing option for use at home or in the outdoors.
The stainless steel design and permanent filter basket make this coffee percolator a staple in every kitchen. The Moka Express has a cup capacity of 2, 4 or 12 cups depending on the size you choose.
Two things to note is that the Bialetti Moka won’t work on an induction stovetop and it is not dishwasher safe.
RELATED: Moka Pot Grind Size
How to Use a Coffee Percolator
Step 1: Add Water
The first step in using a percolator is to add water to the water chamber, making sure it doesn’t surpass the maximum water level.
The water should be at room temperature so that it doesn’t simmer too quickly, giving it time for the coffee to become completely wet.
Step 2: Add Coffee
Add your coffee grounds to the upper basket. Depending on the specific coffee maker you are using, the size of your grind will vary. Moka pots require a fine grind, while standard percolators might need something coarser.
When it comes to the water and coffee ratio, a rule of thumb is to use a tablespoon of coffee for each cup that you want to brew. This might vary depending on how weak or strong you want the taste of your coffee to be.
Step 3: Apply Heat
If you are not using an electric percolator, place the percolator on the stovetop and wait for it to start heating (medium heat works best). The water should start to simmer and wet all the coffee grounds.
Make sure to keep an eye out for steam. If steam is coming out of your percolator that means your water is boiling and will most likely deliver a bitter coffee as it is burning the grounds.
Step 4: Brew
You should let your percolator brew for around 7 minutes before turning off the heat. Once your coffee is done brewing, let it sit for a couple of minutes before serving. This step also allows for fine grounds to settle at the bottom, delivering a brew that resembles drip coffee. Remember that if you let your percolator brew for longer than 10 minutes, it will likely result in bitter coffee.
Percolator vs Moka Pot: What’s the Difference?
The main difference between a Moka pot vs a regular percolator is the brewing process. The Moka pot uses pressure to push water quickly through the basket that contains coffee, similar to an espresso machine. This results in a relatively fast brew and a fairly intense coffee flavour. It is also possible to achieve crema with a Moka Pot.
The percolator, on the other hand, uses a cycle where hot water is constantly steeping the grounds. This process takes longer (up to 10 minutes) and results in a cup of coffee that has been extracted for longer.
In terms of taste, a percolator delivers a result that is similar to drip coffee, while the Moka pot delivers a cup of coffee that is closer to an espresso.
Another difference is the grind size. In order to make coffee in a percolator, you will need coarse ground coffee to achieve optimal results. However, for a Moka pot, you will want a very fine grind, almost like espresso. The grind size is what determines the body of your coffee, which in this case, is lighter from the percolator versus full-bodied from the Moka pot.
Coffee Percolator FAQs
How do percolators work?
A percolator has a tube inside of it that runs all the way from the bottom of the coffee maker to where the coffee grounds are located at the top. Once the water is boiling thanks to the heat source at the bottom of the chamber, it will go up the tube and then fall into the coffee. This process allows ground coffee to be in contact with hot water until there is no water remaining or you stop the brewing process. This cycle should last about 7 minutes for most percolators.
Do percolators make good coffee?
Percolators can brew a good cup of coffee but they are not recommended for specialty coffee. Percolators tend to have a stronger extraction as the coffee is in contact with boiling water through a cycling process, making it very likely for your coffee to over-extract. Most brewing methods take between 2 to 4 minutes to brew, while a percolator can take up to 10 minutes to deliver the same result. The mechanics behind a percolator will affect the body and taste of your coffee.
If you really want to taste the profile notes in your coffee, we suggest using a different brewing method.
What are the drawbacks of a coffee percolator?
One of the main drawbacks of a coffee percolator is that your coffee might turn out bitter, as boiling water goes over the grounds several times. Some percolators tend to make a mess if left unattended with water overflowing into the counter. Another drawback would be getting the right grind size for your filter in order to not get a coffee that is too watered down or too fine. Make sure your stovetop coffee percolator is compatible as some stainless steel percolators won’t work with induction stoves.
How long should you percolate coffee?
It all depends on how strong you want your coffee to be. The suggested time is between 7 and 10 minutes or until most of the water has gone through the coffee beans enough times. If you leave your coffee brewing for longer, it might burn and taste bitter. An electric percolator can have an automatic function for turning off but if you are using a regular coffee maker definitely stick to 7-10 minutes.
Can you burn coffee in a percolator?
You can burn your coffee in a percolator. This will happen if your water is too hot and your coffee has been extracted for a long period of time. Leaving the coffee inside the pot while the percolator is on will also burn your coffee. There are a couple of stainless steel percolator models that have temperature control (such as an electric percolator), allowing you to turn down the heat while keeping your brew at a decent temperature. However, most of these types of coffee makers can easily burn coffee.
What kind of coffee goes in a percolator?
Essentially, you can use all types of coffee with your percolator but we recommend using medium roasted beans. A darker roast will leave your coffee tasting way too bitter and a lighter roast will not shine due to the percolator’s brewing process. A coarser grind is also recommended for these coffee makers in order to allow water to soak the coffee beans properly. If you are using a Bialetti Mok Pot, use a fine grind.