How Long Do You Percolate Coffee For An Amazing Tasting Brew

How Long Do You Percolate Coffee For An Amazing Tasting Brew?

Last updated on October 26th, 2023 at 15:29

How long do you percolate coffee for an amazing tasting cup of coffee is a question that is often asked by coffee enthusiasts that are willing to experiment with different brewing methods.

Here is the quick answer for those of you that are in a rush.

Between 5 and 8 minutes should get you a perfectly brewed percolated coffee. The exact amount of time will vary from device to device and model to model and vary slightly depending on which coffee beans you are using.

By the time you have finished reading this, you will know all that you need to regarding coffee percolation time with both an electric and stovetop percolator.

Keep reading as we dig down into this topic.

What Is Coffee Percolation?

Coffee percolation is the process of using a pot for a continuous cycle of brewing coffee using hot water and gravity. The process ends when the required strength of coffee is achieved.

As the water bubbles, it rises up through the central hollow tube and is displaced over a spreader place to drip the hot almost boiling water over the coffee grounds and then falls back into the water chamber as coffee mixing with the water or coffee mix below.

The process of percolation doubles or triple brews your coffee. It can in theory produce an unlimited number of brewing cycles, at which point it becomes over brewed.

Coffee percolators are not new; they date back to 1819 and their inventor Joseph-Henry-Marie Laurens.

There are two methods and types of percolators – the electric coffee percolator and the stovetop percolator.

What Is Coffee Percolation
The functionality of coffee percolation

Read: Old school coffee maker

Electric Coffee Percolator

Electric percolators are more modern versions of the original stovetop percolators and are generally seen as being better as you can get a better quality coffee due to having a heating plate that gives a more even distribution of heat to the water.

Also, you have more control of the water temperature with more advanced models offering the ability to set the temperature to within the perfect temperature of 92C to 96C (195F to 205F).

Electric coffee percolators often have much more features.

Get the temperature right, the right grind size and the perfect coffee to water ratio, and you are well on your way to brewing a great cup of coffee with an electric percolator.

Electric Coffee Percolator
Electric Coffee Percolator

Read: Types of coffee percolators

Stovetop Coffee Percolators

Stovetop percolators are the traditional looking stainless steel coffee percolators that you perhaps visualize in your mind. Coffee snobs have a tendency to overlook this type of percolator as there is very little control over key variables that affect the flavor of your coffee.

But there is one distinct advantage – you can take it to the great outdoors with you and enjoy a great coffee during a weekend camping trip.

How Long Do You Percolate Coffee?

How long you percolate your coffee for depends entirely on how you like your coffee to be. As a general rule of thumb, 10 minutes or more will result in a bitter taste to your coffee as it will be over brewed. An over-extracted coffee has a very distinctive and overtly bitter flavor.

Optimal tasting coffee will happen in the 5 to 8 min brewing range for most people. This will vary slightly depending on the percolator that you are using.

Coffee percolation is a very hands-on brewing method in which you need to watch and monitor your coffee to ensure that you don’t over brew it.

It sounds more difficult than it actually is. It’s a very simple process, and you will get the knack of it quickly.

Pro Tip: Raise your water temperature gently and slowly reduce the heat right before it gets to the peak ideal temperature when using a stovetop percolator. A good electric will have this feature built in.

How Long To Percolate Coffee With An Electric Percolator?

There is no great time difference for percolating your coffee with an electric percolator or a stovetop percolator. The brewing time is 5 to 8 minutes with a good even heat.

When you switch on your electric percolator, it will immediately start to heat the water. Inside the first minute your coffee will start to brew. 4 to 7 minutes later your brewing cycle should be complete.

Most modern electric percolators will have a light on them somewhere that will indicate when your coffee is ready.

Why Use A Coffee Percolator To Brew Coffee?

There are many reasons to make percolated coffee, one being you want a particularly strong and highly caffeinated coffee. There are many plus points to percolated coffee other than simply enjoying a coffee with a solid caffeine kick. Such a reason being it can be a very good brewing technique when you want to use your expensive high quality single origin coffee beans.

When using this technique you need to use a coarse grind. Ensure you are using the correct ratio of coffee to water by weighing both your coffee and water using an accurate coffee scale.


pay attention to the coffee bed and how deep it is and the contact time that your water has with your coffee grounds. Brew your coffee at the ideal temperature range of 92C to 96C (195F to 205F).

Ensure that you are using freshly-ground high-quality coffee beans and have ideally ground them only moments before brewing.

Please store your coffee beans properly in a coffee canister that is specifically designed for the purpose of storing coffee. Your canister should have an airtight lid and a one-way valve. You should store this canister with your whole coffee beans in your fridge for optimal results.

If you weigh your beans prior to grinding, you will not waste any beans. Measure how much coffee you are going to make with your coffee pot or coffee cup and then calculate the weight of coffee that you will need and put it in your basket.

Switch on your electric percolator or put your stovetop version on your stove and heat the water. Once your water is nearing the ideal temperature, keep a watchful eye on it to ensure that it is not over brewing. Switch off or take your device off the heat and then put the coffee basket of coffee grounds in place.

Once you get near to the end, slowly lower the brewing temperature.

Why Use A Coffee Percolator
A Typical Percolator

The Ideal Percolator Coffee Ratio?

The ideal coffee to water ratio for percolator coffee is 1:16, 1 part coffee and 16 parts water.

For a stronger coffee you can experiment with 1:15 and 1:14 respectively.

Do Percolators Make Good Coffee?

For a number of reasons coffee lovers tend to avoid the use of percolators as it is seen as an old-fashioned way of brewing coffee and is overlooked with preference being given to pour over coffee, drip coffee and French press.

If you can master this brewing method, you will be in for great tasting full-bodied coffee. A word to the wise since coffee percolators don’t normally produce a clear, oil-free coffee, you can use a donut-shaped paper filter or make your own donut-shaped filter and place it on top of the metal filter basket before you add your coffee grounds.

If you do that, you can get a crisp, clean tasting cup of coffee.

Do Percolators Make Good Coffee
Percolators Make Great Coffee

Frequently Asked Questions About How Long Do You Percolate Coffee

One way of knowing when your percolator coffee is ready you can watch your coffee through the transparent glass globe on the top.

You should be able to see some bubbles every couple of seconds. If you see steam, this is an indication that your coffee is too hot. At this point you need to turn down the heat and serve it. Another great indication is to watch the color of your coffee while it is brewing. If it is the color of your regular coffee that you enjoy, you will know that it is ready.

These are hard and fast rules for electric percolators and stovetop percolators.

Why Is My Percolator Taking So Long?

Your coffee percolator may be taking so long because of calcium build up in your coffee machine. Try cleaning it with either distilled white vinegar and water (50/50 mix) or bicarbonate of soda with water.

Simply run 2 or 3 brewing cycles and then flush out with an abundance of fresh clean water. Then run 2 or 3 brewing cycles with water only to ensure you have removed the scent and tastes of white vinegar and/or bicarbonate of soda and flush with an abundance of water. It is important to flush well.

How long you percolate coffee on your stove depends entirely on how strong you want your coffee to be. On average, the time to percolate a good cup of coffee takes approximately 5 to 8 minutes. It is important that you keep a good even heat when you are brewing with coffee percolators. This is where electric percolators have a distinctive advantage.

Yes, you can unfortunately percolate your coffee for too long and end up with a bitter coffee and extracting the bitter flavors due to over brewing your coffee. This is certainly a spoiler if you are using specialty grade coffee beans.

This is one of the reasons snobby coffee connoisseurs tend to avoid the use of a percolator for brewing their top quality coffee beans. But if you are patient, you can brew a great pot of coffee and a truly enjoyable cup of coffee with a percolator and get all the great flavor from the beans.

If it is taking you such a long time to brew up a pot of coffee with your percolator, this is a sign that you need to clean your coffee maker. Build up of calcium and other mineral deposits in your coffee maker (of all types) can have the effect of making it brew a cup of coffee a little slower. This is one reason I insist on you always using either mineral water or at the very least filtered water.

How Long To Percolate Coffee On The Stove?

How long you percolate your coffee on your stove top depends on how strong your want your coffee to be. An average of 7 to 10 minutes at a medium heat is good for most people. Make sure the heat is even and steady; this is where electric coffee percolators excel.

Is Percolated Coffee Better Than Instant?

Yes, without any coffee snobbery at all, proper coffee, regardless of the brewing method, is always better than instant coffee as you’ll get a fresher cup of coffee with more vibrant aroma and flavor.

Instant coffee is derived from previously brewed coffee, which is then highly processed to be instant. If you are out in the great outdoors, this is where instant coffee becomes more convenient. Just for the record, yes, there is some great instant coffee out there.

Why Don t People Use Percolators Anymore?

Coffee percolators expose your coffee grounds to elevated temperatures and bring you the possibility of over brewing and over extracting than other brewing methods.

More convenient brewing methods like drip coffee became more popular and now, the home espresso machine and single serve coffee makers like Keurig and Nespresso.

Do You Put Hot Water In A Percolator?

Some coffee lovers prefer to use fresh hot water with their manual percolator, and for good reason. When you use water that has been preheated to 70C (158F) the time taken to produce water vapor and for your hot water to rise up through the central tube is reduced which results in a fresher and better tasting cup of coffee.

If you start with cold water, your coffee grounds are exposed to air for longer and are undergoing the process of oxidization for longer before coming into contact with hot water and brewing.

Also, the greater exposure to water vapor detracts from the flavor of the coffee grounds.

Frappé-Ing It All Up – How Long Do You Percolate Coffee?

How long do you percolate coffee for both a stovetop and electric percolator should no longer be a question that you ask as if you have read this far you know the correct answer is 5 min to 8 min.

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Derek Marshall, a certified barista by the Specialty Coffee Association possesses over two decades of experience in specialty coffee shops. He holds professional certifications for coffee brewing and barista skills. Derek is also an author with authoritative books covering various coffee topics including specialty coffee, sustainability and coffee, coffee brewing, coffee recipes, coffee cocktails and books focusing on Brazilian coffee, Vietnamese coffee, Indonesian coffee and Malaysian coffee. As a barista for over two decades, Derek Marshall has worked in specialty coffee shops across the United Kingdom, Spain, Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, Indonesia, and Vietnam. His expertise extends to the distinct coffee cultures, specialty beverages, and brewing techniques of each nation. Functioning as a coffee consultant, Derek charges US$50 per hour. To learn more about Derek Marshall and Latte Love Brew, visit his About Me Page. For coffee inquiries, contact him at +34-639-410-375 or, mentioning your name and location

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