How Does a Percolator Coffee Maker Work

Is Learning How to Use a Percolator the Key to Brewing the Perfect Cup of Coffee?

Coffee has turned into a staple of modern living. Numerous individuals find it hard to kick off their day without indulging in a cup of coffee. That initial taste of coffee is just what’s necessary to rejuvenate and feel alert at the start of the day.

Strong or weak coffee is all a personal choice, so do the method to make coffee. Now we have many ways to choose from, like iconic drip, French press, etc. However, some people still prefer to go for coffee percolators. They seemed a little old-fashioned, but they are still part of the coffee market.

What is a Coffee Percolator?

A coffee percolator is an old way of making coffee. It was most prevalent when drip coffee makers were not invented. However, it continues to have some fans.

Basically, it is a coffee brewing device that looks like a kettle. The water inside the percolator is near its boiling point, so it is continually cycled through the coffee grounds, which yields a strong brew depending on how long the cycling continues.

The percolators are of two types: stovetop and electric. Both work essentially the same way; only their heat sources are different.

The electric percolator has an electric heating element in its base, and it needs to be plugged into a socket. In comparison, a stovetop percolator needs an external heat source, like a flame or burner, to make coffee.

Electric percolators are expensive as compared to stovetop percolators. But electric percolators have the advantage of shutting off automatically and also offer a keep-warm function.

Stovetop percolators are less expensive, but they are popular with campers. The reason is that they are the easiest ways to brew a large amount of coffee with only a campfire. The only problem with stovetop percolators is that it requires your full attention while making coffee.

How to Use a General Electrical Percolator

12 Cup Model

First, wash and dry all parts of the electrical percolator before making coffee. This will remove all the dust from the machine. Fill the coffee pot with water as per your need but remember to fill by indicated fill lines in the coffee pot. Do not use hard water; go for filtered or bottled water. Water is not an issue. The problem is that hard water can affect the taste of coffee.

Set basket stem inside the pot, then place the coffee basket on the stem.

Put one tablespoon of coarsely ground coffee per cup into the coffee basket; if you make a full coffee pot, ten use at least 12 tablespoons of coffee. If you like weaker coffee, then use less amount of coffee.

Now place the lid on the coffee pot and turn it into a locking position. Plug the electric cord into the machine and in-wall outlet. The coffee pot will begin to perk automatically once the unit is getting power.

One minute is enough to perk one cup of coffee. The ready light will turn on when the coffee is prepared.

40-Cup Urn

Fill the coffee urn with water to the appropriate water gauge that is marked inside the urn. Put the stem and basket into the urn.

Use the coffee basket to measure coarse ground coffee. A full 40 cups will take 2 ½ cups of coffee or more for full flavors.

Attach the lid to the machine. Plug the one end of the electric cord in the coffee urn and the other end in the wall socket. The coffee urn will begin brewing automatically.

The blue light appearance will indicate that coffee is brewing. When the blue light turns green, it means that coffee is ready.

How to Make Coffee in a Stovetop Percolator


Coarsely coffee grounds



Step 1-Prepare the Stovetop Percolator

Clean the percolator before making coffee, as previous coffee residues can affect the taste of the new batch. Add water in the reservoir, pay attention to the maximum line of fill up in the reservoir. Two cups of water make one mug of coffee.

Step 2-Add Coffee Grounds

Coffee grounds are added to the upper basket. Use a tablespoon to add coffee grounds. For one cup of coffee, add one tablespoon of coffee ground. If you want a light one, then one teaspoon of coffee grounds for one cup of coffee.

Step 3-Heat the Percolator

Once water and coffee grounds are added, put the percolator on the stovetop. Heat it over medium heat. Now heat the percolator slowly until it starts peaking; keep monitoring the progress from the glass top. Reduce the heat, so the water is hot but not simmering or boiling. You shouldn’t be able to see any steam coming out of the percolator.

Step 4-Perk

Percolate the coffee for 7-10 minutes. It depends on the desired strength.

Step 5-Allow Coffee to Rest

Remove percolator from the heat and put it on the side. Use oven mitts to remove the coffee grounds basket and discard the spent grounds.

Let the coffee sit for a few minutes before you serve it. Some coffee grounds can make their way into the coffee; the resting period will allow them to settle down at the bottom.

Bottom Line

Percolator coffee makers work differently than today’s coffee makers. They work like a recirculating water fountain, one the difference is that water boils instead of the temperature of the ambient air. Water is pushed upward through a tube when it boils, overflowing into the coffee basket that holds the coffee grounds and backs down to the water reservoir where it repeats the process.