The best coffee percolator
Percolating is one of the oldest coffee-brewing methods still used regularly today. Although coffee percolators aren't as popular as they were before the arrival of drip-coffee machines, their popularity is growing again thanks to coffee fans who favor taste over convenience.
This guide is designed to help you find the best coffee percolator to fit your requirements, listing all the most important features and considerations. Our favorite is the Farberware 12-Cup Percolator, an electric model with a large 12-cup capacity that does all the hard work for you.
Considerations when choosing coffee percolators
Electric vs. stovetop
Traditionally, percolators sat on the stovetop, using the heat from the burner to fuel the percolation process, whereas many modern options are electric models with their own heating element in the base. Stovetop coffee percolators do require a little more of your attention than electric options, which shut off when they're done, but they're inexpensive and can also be used on camping trips and the like. Electric coffee percolators, on the other hand, are more convenient, which plenty of buyers are willing to pay a little extra for.
Stovetop percolators generally take around five minutes to brew coffee, whereas electric models are a little slower, taking around seven to 10 minutes in total. However, some electric percolators are quicker, especially when making just a cup or two.
The capacity of a coffee percolator is measured in cups and is usually somewhere between eight and 12 cups. Bear in mind, though, that one cup is generally eight ounces, which might only be half the amount of coffee that fits in your mug, depending on its size. Plus, some manufacturers use even smaller "cup" measurements, so don't assume that a 12-cup percolator will actually serve a dozen people.
Keep warm: The keep-warm function on electric coffee percolators uses the heating element to maintain your coffee at a drinkable heat. It can, however, sometimes lead to scorched coffee, which doesn't taste good.
Cool-touch handle: The majority of percolators have plastic cool-touch handles, so you don't risk scalding yourself when attempting to pour a cup.
Dishwasher-safe parts: Coffee percolators that are either completely dishwasher-safe or have some dishwasher-safe parts will make the cleaning process far easier.
Coffee percolator prices
Simple stovetop percolators start at around $10 to $20, whereas high-end electric models can cost $80 or more. You shouldn't need to spend more than $50 to get a decent model, however.
Q. My percolator produces bitter coffee, what am I doing wrong?
A. Percolated coffee has a complex flavor, so you should get some bitter and acidic notes, but it shouldn't be overly bitter in any way. Coffee that's been percolated for too long can become bitter, so you need to keep an eye on your percolator, or set a timer if yours has this function. Percolated coffee can also burn if you use the keep-warm function for too long, which gives it a bitter taste.
Q. Do percolators really produce better-tasting coffee than drip-coffee machines?
A. This is somewhat down to personal preference, but from an objective viewpoint, percolators do produce better coffee than drip-coffee machines. Good coffee is all about the way that water passes through the beans. When coffee is made in a percolator, it passes through the beans several times, whereas drip coffee only has a single pass through the beans. As such, percolated coffee picks up more of the tannins, essential oils, sugars, and other elements that give coffee its distinct flavor.
Coffee percolators we recommend
Best of the best: Farberware 12-Cup Percolator
Our take: It takes just a minute to brew each cup, so your coffee will be ready before you know it.
What we like: The keep-warm function keeps coffee hot until you want to drink it, without overpercolating. Makes a strong, robust cup of coffee. Stay cool handle and lid.
What we dislike: Costs more than similar options.
Best bang for your buck: Farberware Yosemite 8-Cup Coffee Stovetop Percolator
Our take: This classic stovetop option is simple and reasonably priced. Great for home use or camping trips.
What we like: Works on all types of stoves. Made from nonreactive metal that won't affect the flavor of the coffee. No need for paper filters.
What we dislike: The eight-cup capacity is too small for some.
Choice 3: Hamilton Beach Brands Coffee Percolator
Our take: A surprisingly affordable electric model with a large 12-cup capacity and an attractive retro style.
What we like: The no-drip spout makes pouring a breeze. Clear lid lets you monitor brew strength. Keep-warm function for when you don't want to drink your coffee right away.
What we dislike: Some complaints about durability.
Lauren Corona is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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