How to Use a Percolator

Percolators have been around for a long time. Before Third-Wave coffee and specialty-brews made it to the scene, percolators served as one of the fastest and most commonly used methods to make coffee. While they may not be as popular as they used to be, this does not mean that it has lost its merit as a brewing method.

This is what inspired us to develop this brewing guide. After all, we want to explore all the different ways we can brew coffee. That said, going old-school with a percolator makes a lot of sense.

The word “percolate” means gradually filtering a liquid through a porous surface. This succinctly sums up what a percolator does to make your coffee – it lets boiling water pass through your coffee grounds and your filter to give you a strong and dark brew.

Now, it is worth noting that there several types of percolators out there. For this guide, we’ll be focusing on the most iconic – the Moka pot. Also called a pressure percolator, this invention has three main components:

  • Bottom chamber – This is where the water sits
  • Filter/Coffee Basket – As its name suggests, this holds the ground coffee.
  • Top Chamber – This will hold the brewed coffee once the process is finished.

The process is simple. As you boil the water, stored in the bottom chamber, steam will arise and push the water up. The pressure in the percolator will then continuously push it through the coffee and up the top chamber. When all the liquid has been pushed up, you will have a delicious cup of coffee ready to be poured and enjoyed.

When using a pressure percolator, make sure that you are using medium-coarse grounds. They work best with these kinds of brewers. Grind too fine and you will end up with a murky, over-extracted, and bitter drink. However, if it’s too coarse, then you may end up with something bland and weak.

That said, start brewing with 30 grams of whole beans per 500 grams of water. This is a good starting point. Like with every other brewing method, you can play around with the coffee-water ratio once you get a hang of how it works.

That said, be sure to follow these steps so you can start brewing:

  1. Boil water separately and pour it into the bottom chamber of your Moka Pot. Be mindful of your ratio and be careful not to fill the chamber.
  2. Put medium-coarse coffee into the filter. Do not tamp but make sure that the grounds are evenly distributed.
  3. Attach the upper chamber and put the percolator on your stovetop.
  4. Wait for five minutes or until you hear the distinctive hissing sound. This means that the water is being pushed through your coffee grounds.
  5. As the sound fades, check the top chamber to see if there is still coffee coming in.
  6. Once no more liquid is pouring into your top chamber, you can then remove the percolator from the heat source.
  7. Serve the coffee.

This is one of those brewing methods that are almost impossible to mess up. Be sure to give percolator brewed coffee a try when you have the chance.

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