How Does a Coffee Percolator Work?

You can make coffee in different ways, and one of them is by using a coffee percolator. The brewing coffee machine is designed to produce a quick, hot cup of coffee or tea full of flavor and freshness. But you may wonder, how does a coffee percolator work?

A coffee percolator works by utilizing the hot bubbles that rise as you boil water in the chamber, passing through the grounds and extracting coffee. As the water boils, it splashes upwardly through the bean basket mixing with ground coffee. The cycle repeats continuously until you attain the required coffee strength.

What is a Coffee Percolator?

A coffee percolator is a type of coffee maker that uses the process of percolation. It is basically a brewing machine with an insulated heating element to heat water to a boiling point and dispense it into the brew basket. The coffee maker comprises:

  • 2 chambers, at the top and bottom.
  • A brewing basket.
  • A vertical tube.

The purpose of a coffee percolator is to provide a hot cup of coffee quickly and efficiently without having to wait for an electrical burner or stove to heat water for brewing. You can use a percolator with both ground beans and whole beans. It can also be used as an alternative to drip brewers when making iced coffee or tea drinks.

How Does a Coffee Percolator Work?

This video shows how to brew with a percolator:

Grind and Weigh Your Coffee

Grind your beans before brewing time using a burr grinder for outstanding flavor. Make sure you grind coarsely to extract a lot of flavors. Additionally, determine the amount of coffee you intend to make and measure about 15g of coffee for each 250ml of water. If you don’t own a coffee scale, use about one tablespoon of ground coffee per cup.

Prepare the Coffee Percolator

Add cold filtered water to the percolator reservoir. Afterward, put the funnel filter above, add ground coffee to the brewing basket, and compress it down slowly.

Heat the Percolator

Heat the water in the percolator chamber gently to avoid a bitter or burnt taste. You can set a medium or low heat and monitor. The coffee percolator consists of a heat source, usually a stovetop burner or electric element, and a chamber where the water flows through the ground coffee.

Water at the bottom of the chamber gets hot first and begins to boil. Bubbles emerge from boiling and are directed to the vertical tube. The water then gets into the top coffee chamber and a filter at the top helps to keep out large particles and holes for the coffee grounds to pass through.

Afterward, water flows through the ground coffee and extracts flavor from the grounds. Some people add sugar to their coffee, while others prefer unsweetened. If you want your coffee strong but not bitter, use plenty of grounds and let them sit steeping for an hour before brewing. It will give them enough time to absorb some of the natural oils.

3 Best Coffee Percolators

The best coffee percolator to buy is the one that suits your needs. Here are the three best coffee percolators you can find in the market.

1. Moss & Stone Coffee Percolator

Key Features

  • Holds up to 10 cups of coffee
  • Detachable cord
  • Drip-free spout

This percolator is a perfect choice for people looking for a product that will last long without any problems. Moss and stone coffee percolator features a stainless-steel heating element that can last many years without breaking down. The best part about this coffee maker is that it is easy and quick to use.

The coffee-making equipment can hold up to 10 cups of coffee and comes with a detachable cord and a drip-free spout. In addition, it keeps your brewed coffee warm, and it is possible to brew as little as two cups at a time.

2. Farberware 47053 Yosemite Coffee Percolator

Key Features

  • Dishwasher safe
  • Non-reactive interior
  • Glossy stainless-steel mirror finish
  • Carry a capacity of 12 cups

The Farberware Yosemite Stainless Steel Stovetop Percolator is an excellent choice for those who want a traditional percolator. It has a stainless-steel body and is made up of an aluminum lid that can be used as a serving dish.

This coffee percolator comes with a stainless-steel base and lid, both dishwasher-safe. Its brewing basket can hold a maximum of 3 cups of ground coffee. The brewing machine is affordable, easy to use, and fully immersible. However, it requires some supervision while brewing.

Farberware Yosemite Stainless Steel Stovetop Percolator’s glass-lined heat exchanger ensures that your coffee is always hot when you pour it into your cup. It also helps maintain the fresh taste of your coffee. The pot can hold up to 8 cups to 12 cups of coffee, so you don’t have to worry about filling it up often.

  • Made up of durable stainless steel
  • Polished mirror finish
  • No visible logos
  • Exceptional reducer filter attachment

This masterpiece percolator gives you a rich and satisfying brew that lies between espresso and French press coffee in flavor. It is durable stainless steel, and its glossy mirror finish adds elegance to its design.

The coffee maker comprises a reducer filter basket that you can use to lower the amount of coffee by half, reducing waste when you need smaller amounts. Once you heat the machine, it brews for about four to six minutes.

The percolator functions in all working spaces. Moreover, it comes with an additional silicone gasket to enhance a proper seal over time. The machine holds up to 10 cups of coffee.

Percolator vs. French Press

Are you looking for a machine to help you prepare coffee? Here are some facts and features to assist you in comparing these two favorites for the best cup of coffee.


A percolator is a straightforward machine that you use directly on your stovetop. You add coffee grounds to the brew basket above the waterline. As water heats, it converts to steam and travels to the ground’s basket. The water then mixes with the coffee grounds, generating coffee.

Using a percolator enables you to time the brew. Besides, the machine has a small hole where boiled water exists, enabling you to oversee the color of your brew during the brewing process.

Percolators are characterized by a less refined brewing process and brew timing. However, they yield inconsistent results. The method is not the best when it comes to making coffee that is full of flavor.

Just like French pressers, percolators differ in size. Most can make eight to ten cups of coffee at a time. They are helpful in gatherings or groups because of their significant holding capabilities.

This brewing machine requires you to pay attention while brewing and remove it immediately from heat once you have achieved your preferred coffee strength. Also, you don’t need to press or stir at certain times during brewing as the French press requires.


  • Very affordable
  • Great for gatherings
  • No extra equipment required


  • Flavorful coffee is not guaranteed
  • Inconsistent results
  • Quite difficult to clean

French Press

A French press allows you to submerge coffee grounds into hot water. The coffee machine comprises a cylindrical carafe where you incorporate boiling water with coffee grounds. It also contains a plunger consisting of a fine metal mesh on the bottom to force the coffee from the grounds while brewing.

Using this coffee machine is simple, and the outcome is outstanding with a guarantee of a pleasant cup of coffee. French pressers also vary in size, with the most prominent French press making three or four cups of coffee.

They are reasonably affordable and one of the cheapest coffee-making machines you can purchase.


  • Easy to clean
  • Makes flavorful coffee
  • No maintenance beyond cleaning required
  • Affordable


  • Brews only 2-4 cups at a time
  • Require a pot or kettle to use alongside
  • Attention is needed during the brewing process

Percolator vs. French Press: Which Should You Choose?

None of the two brewing machines is better than the other. It all depends on your personal preferences. French press is more pleasant and consistent, making it the best for those looking for good taste in their coffee. On the other hand, a percolator can serve you best if you need coffee for a large gathering.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQS)

Q. Does a percolator make better coffee?

A. Yes, a percolator makes a better coffee than the one made using the drip method.

Q. How long do you let coffee percolate in a percolator?

A. You let coffee percolate in a percolator for approximately 7 to 10 minutes.

Q. How do you know when a percolator is done?

A. You will know when a percolator is done when a sputtering sound eventually stops.

Q. Do you need a coffee filter for a percolator?

A. Yes, you need a coffee filter in case you require a more delicious cup.

Q. Why is percolated coffee so good?

A. Percolated coffee is good because the water gets hotter and extracts more flavor from the beans.

Q. What is the best coffee to use in a percolator?

A. Whole bean medium roast is the best to use in a percolator.


If you desire a quick and hot cup of coffee, a percolator will give you outstanding results. Since now you know how a coffee percolator works, get up and make a rich and satisfying cup of coffee for yourself and even for gatherings.