Most coffee enthusiasts nowadays are only familiar with modern coffee brewing methods. For instance, have you ever heard of coffee percolation? Indeed, this traditional method takes some patience and practice but it delivers delicious results each time. But – do you know how long to perk coffee?
Ideally, you should perk coffee for 5 to 8 minutes maximum.
If you like your coffee strong, bold and truly powerful, then you can opt for a 10-minute perk time.
Going even a second beyond this time can make your coffee taste burnt, bitter and even dry!
Now, let’s dive deeper into this seemingly demanding brewing method.
Regardless – we promise you’ll fall in love with percolator coffee by the end of this article!
Table of Contents
How Does a Coffee Percolator Work?
Each coffee percolator comes with a broad-base pot, a small chamber at the bottom of the pot and a perforated chamber.
There’s a vertical tube that connects the chamber and the top of the percolator.
And this is how the entire percolating process typically works:
- You pour the desired amount of water into the chamber (closest to the heat source)
- You add some coarse-ground coffee to the perforated chamber
- You put the percolator on a source of heat and the water starts heating up gradually and almost reaches the boiling point
- You’ll know you are going in the right direction when you see bubbles forming at the lower chamber
- The bubbles start rising quickly towards the top of the vertical tube and swamp the lid of the coffee chamber
- Once the water climbs up there, it covers the coffee grounds, seeps through them, and gets back to the bottom of the chamber
- The water drops going back down to the bottom part of the chamber mix with the fluid that’s already there
- This forces a small amount of the water to ascend the vertical tube again.
Remember that you should let the temperature increase almost to a full boil but lower it a bit right before it reaches that point!
This way, you will prevent the percolator from producing too much steam.
When you are not in control, steam can actually make your coffee grounds start burning, which can affect the taste of your cups.
Above all though, don’t forget that brewing coffee in a percolator is a repetitive process!
It takes 5 to 10 minutes to make a fine brew, depending on how strong you want it to be.
How Long Should You Perk Coffee?
As a general rule of thumb, you should NEVER brew coffee in a percolator for more than 10 minutes!
Note that you should begin your timer from the moment water starts bubbling – not from the moment you pour the water into the chamber.
Although this is a matter of your personal taste, we suggest brewing your first percolated coffee for 10 minutes.
That’s because the authentic and bold taste of this cup is incomparable to a regular cup of brewed coffee.
And if it feels too strong, you can reduce the brewing time for your next brews.
How to Percolate Coffee?
You can perk it on the stove or with an electric percolator.
Percolating coffee on the stove is an old-fashioned but still great way of making delicious coffee.
- Also read: How make strong coffee without a coffee maker?
Just make sure to not overheat the coffee, otherwise, it will end up bitter and burnt!
Brew your coffee for 5 to 10 minutes just below the boiling point and you will get a rich and authentic taste of percolated coffee.
Note that the procedure is way easier with electric percolators though!
You won’t have to guess whether the water is hot enough or if it’s too hot – the kettle does that for you.
It’s designed to set the optimal temperature needed to make delicious percolator coffee.
All you need is the right coffee-to-water ratio, ground coffee and an electric percolator.
Step-by-Step Guide on How to Make Coffee Using a Percolator
What you’ll need:
- The appropriate quantity of water
- Coarse-ground coffee
1. Measure the water and coffee
If you like bitter and strong coffee, 30 grams of coarse-ground coffee and 500 grams of water will do.
Be careful about the grind when making coffee with a stovetop percolator.
Try to stick to a medium grind, as too small or too large beans can spoil the delicious taste of your coffee.
- Also read: How to grind coffee beans without a grinder?
However, keep the volume of your percolator in mind and the amount of coffee you will need.
Halve the amount if you need no more than 2 cups of Joe!
Just in case this water-to-coffee ratio tastes too bitter and you want something milder and more potable, reduce the amount of coffee and increase the quantity of water.
2. Fill the percolator
Pour cold water into the chamber and the desired amount of ground coffee to the perforated chamber.
You want to make sure the water heats gradually.
Never pour warm or hot water into the chamber – the heating process needs to be gradual, not instant!
3. Assemble the percolator
Connect the stem to the bottom chamber and secure it to the stem’s top.
If you have the owner’s manual, you can use it to learn how to assemble your percolator the right way.
However, assembling a percolator is typically a no-brainer and it shouldn’t take more than 30 seconds to do!
4. Fill the perforated chamber with ground coffee
Add the desired amount of coffee to the top basket (the perforated chamber) of your percolator.
Do not overfill it as that may increase the chance of a spillover.
On the other hand, adding too much ground coffee can make your coffee unpleasantly bitter and too strong.
Percolators typically make a strong brew so be careful about the water-to-coffee ratio.
5. Brew your coffee
With electric percolators, there’s no guesswork.
Connect it to the power supply, switch it on and the machine will start and stop brewing automatically.
If you are using a stovetop percolator, keep your eye on the heat source and the pot.
Set the burner to a low-to-medium heat setting.
Ideally, you want to heat the water gradually without allowing it to reach the full boil!
Most stovetop percolators come with a glass knob or clear plastic at the top so you can keep track of what’s happening in there.
Once you spot some bubbles through the glass, this means the water is hot enough to start producing steam.
- Also read: How long is brewed coffee good for?
Reduce the heat level a bit so that you prevent the bubbles from forming continuously.
Preferably, bubbles should appear every couple of seconds.
If the bubbles are not forming frequently, that is a sign the water is still not hot enough.
When the bubbles are forming a couple of seconds apart and the steaming process begins, you will notice the color of the water transforms from clear to cloudy and coffee-colored.
That means you are a couple of minutes (6 to 8) apart from an ideal cup of percolated coffee.
6. Set the timer
Once the water starts changing color, set the timer to 6, 8, or 10 minutes.
Go for 10 minutes if you want to achieve the authentic, genuine taste of percolator coffee.
7. Take the percolator from the heat source
Switch off the percolator or take it from the heat source when 10 minutes have passed.
Never touch it with bare hands though!
Use a kitchen cloth, oven mitt or a towel and place it on a kitchen pad.
8. Remove the coffee grounds
Coffee percolators can’t separate most of the coffee grounds from the coffee.
Expect to have more grounds in your cup compared to standard filter coffee.
You should remove the used grounds by filtering the coffee through a mesh strainer if you don’t want any leftover grounds in your cup.
Pour your freshly-brewed percolator java and enjoy it!
1. Is Percolator Coffee Better than Drip?
Yes and no.
It all depends on your personal preferences and what kind of coffee you enjoy the most.
But if you like strong and bold cups, then percolator coffee may be the one for you.
Drip coffee is not as strong and not as overwhelming as percolated java.
With percolated coffee, you get coffee that goes through the brewing process twice, while drip coffee is only brewed once.
2. Does Percolated Coffee Have More Caffeine?
No, percolated coffee has less caffeine than drip coffee.
The discussed type of coffee here has around 80 mg of caffeine per cup.
- Also read: Does dark coffee have more caffeine?
Whilst instant coffee has 100 mg of caffeine per cup and drip coffee has around 150 mg of caffeine.
3. Can I Use Regular Coffee Grounds in a Percolator?
If by regular ground coffee you mean finer grounds – then no.
You should use a coarse grind as coffee percolators’ filtering baskets are not as fine as those found on traditional coffee makers.
If possible, avoid using old or coffee grounds, but rather use freshly ground coffee exclusively.
Also, avoid light and dark roasts because then your coffee will either be too bitter or too watery!
Medium roasts work best with percolator coffee as they give it a nice, strong (but not overly strong) and delicious flavor to your cups.
So, you now know how long to perk coffee for – 5 to 8 mins are ideal although you can opt for as much as 10 mins for a truly bold cup!
And sure, you can definitely come across some criticism regarding making coffee in a percolator.
But this hands-on brewing method can take you back in the days when brewing and sipping coffee was a true art in and of itself!
Now that you know how to make percolated coffee and how long to perk coffee, will you embark on this adventure?
What’s your experience with percolator java?
Do you prefer it over instant and drip coffee?
We would love to hear your thoughts so don’t hesitate to leave a comment in the section below!
Did somebody say coffee? Two shots of espresso for me, thanks. Oh, nevermind – I’m Simon, nice to e-meet you, dear CoffeeLifior! I like to write, drink coffee and I believe in Jesus. Highly-caffeinated drinks are my thing, but you can occasionally see me sip on decaf (my wife never finishes her coffee). Speaking of which, I’m off to grab another cup of caffeinated goodness now, laters!
Last update on 2021-05-15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API