How To Make Coffee In An Electric Percolator Like A Pro! [Tutorial]

How To Make Coffee In An Electric Percolator Like A Pro! [Tutorial]

Last updated on May 22nd, 2024 at 14:08

This article, how to make coffee in an electric percolator, will help you to make better coffee with your electric percolator. Think of it as more of a guide than a step-by-step tutorial.

Remember, perfect practice equals perfect coffee.

By the time you have finished reading this article, you will know how much coffee to use, what the correct coffee to water ratio is and the correct grind size, which will help you to get a flavorful cup of coffee with your electric coffee percolator.

So pull up a chair and keep reading.

What Is A Percolator?

A percolator is undoubtedly the classic coffee brewer of the 1960s and 1970s. It brews your coffee by using the scientific principles of heat convection and gravity as it percolates your coffee by spraying hot water over and through the coffee grounds.

Fans of percolated coffee can expect a strong, well-brewed, highly caffeinated cup of coffee due to the brewing process double brewing the coffee as it cycles through the brewing cycle.

The coffee produced is strong like a Moka pot and French press and not smooth and crisp like a drip coffee.

With stovetop percolators, you need to watch for over brewing, which results in a bitter tasting coffee. Thus, keep an eye on the brew time with a stovetop percolator. This, thankfully, is not an issue with an electric percolator due to the temperature control in the device.

This is undoubtedly where electric percolators excel – their automation and heat control. Obviously, the disadvantage is that you cannot take them camping as an external heat source cannot be used.

What Is A Percolator
An Electric Percolator

Read: Coffee filter sizes

How Does An Electric Percolator Work?

The functionality of an electric percolator and how they work is very easy to understand. Your coffee grounds go into the coffee basket at the top.

Your water goes into the bottom chamber, the water chamber. The hollow central tube, a stem, functions as a natural mechanical free pump. When heat is added, air bubbles form and rise through the central stem, also known as a pump tube, carries hot water up and over the coffee grounds and back into the water chamber below as coffee.

This happens on an ongoing cycle until the heat is removed, resulting in a well-brewed strong coffee. An electric percolator has a well-tuned heat control that prevents over brewing and over cycling of the coffee in your percolator. This feature helps to prevent you from getting burnt tasting or bitter coffee – which can be a problem with stovetop percolators.

Also, to balance this out – if it is not brewed or cycled through the coffee grounds enough times you end up with a batch of coffee that is weak, watery and under extracted.

 What Is Percolation
How A Percolator Works

 What Is Percolation?

Percolation is a simple process from physics and material science where one liquid or fluid is moved and filtered through a porous material and described by Darcy’s law.

In the case of a coffee percolator, the fluid is water which is moved up and over coffee grounds and through the coffee basket changing its property from water to coffee.

The process is very different from drip coffee makers; the resulting coffee is very different too.

Making Coffee In An Electric Percolator – Percolator Coffee Instructions

Making coffee in an electric percolator is very easy. Follow the instructions below, and you will make an amazing percolator coffee.

  • 1. Measure how much coffee you need and grind it to a coarse coffee grind size. Coffee that is finer than this may fall through the filter and into the water chamber. Also, a finer grind will result in an overtly bitter coffee.
  • 2. Fill the water chamber with bottled or filtered water. The better the quality of your water, the better your coffee will be.
  • 3. Prepare and plug in your electric percolator and switch it on. It will then start to heat the water.
  • 4. Wait until the brew cycle is finished, which should be around 7 to 10 minutes. Most modern electric percolators have a light that will indicate when it is finished brewing.
  • 5. Unplug, pour and enjoy your coffee.

The more modern electric percolators have a function that permits you to alter the brew time, which has the effect of altering the strength of your coffee.

Now let’s get into the fine details of those instructions.

 What Grind Size Should You Use For Percolated Coffee?

The grind size that you should use is coarse. Due to the long brew time, look for the largest grind size that your grinder permits. Finer grind sizes will result in a stronger and overtly bitter coffee.

Percolator Coffee Ratio – How Much Coffee To Use In A Percolator

How much coffee to use is a great question to ask. I am not a fan at all of using a scoop. Great coffee is measured by weight. By using an exact amount and as a ratio, it ensures that you have a repeatable process. Above all, you end up with a quality coffee that you will enjoy every time you make it.

The coffee to water ratio for percolated coffee is in the 1:12 to 1:15 ratio, with 1:12 making you a well-brewed strong coffee and 1:15 a weaker, yet still good quality cup of coffee.

For a 360 ml (12 ounce) cup of coffee, use 1 ounce (30 grams) of coffee. 24 grams (0.8 ounces) of coffee should be used when using the 1:15 ratio for a 12 ounce cup of coffee.

Percolator Coffee Ratio. How Much Coffee To Use In A Percolator
Percolated Coffee Is Hot And Strong

How Long Should You Brew Your Percolated Coffee For?

With an electric percolator, the brewing time is usually preset. For weak coffee, expect no less than 7 mins as anything less tends to end up being watery and under brewed. For a good strong cup of coffee that really hits the spot, brewing time is around 10 mins.

Times will vary slightly for different brands and models of percolator.

What Type Of Coffee Can I Use In A Percolator?

You can use any kind of coffee; regular is fine. However, I advise against dark roasted coffee beans as the long brewing time here will result in a coffee that is simply too strong and too bitter. Medium and light roasts are perfect.

Electric Percolator Vs Stovetop Percolator

Stovetop percolators date back to the early 1800s with various improvements made since then and the biggest, or most dramatic, in my opinion is the electric percolator.

The electric percolator is by far more convenient option as it is much less of a hands-on percolation as you don’t need to watch it as much as you do when compared to a stovetop percolator and makes a very good, strong cup of coffee.

Both have their advantages and disadvantages and, be completely honest, both make a great cup of coffee. Which one to choose depends entirely on what type of person you are. If you enjoy the great outdoors and camping – then a stovetop is what will be better for you.

If you want to be lazier with your brewing and not want to watch it as it percolates away, an electric percolator is better. These are the main differences and advantages.

Both are going to give you a freshly brewed coffee that is pretty strong, highly caffeinated and give you an amazing coffee.

Stovetop Percolator
A Stovetop Has Its Advantages Too

Percolator Coffee Vs Drip

Percolated coffee and drip coffee are very different. The principle difference between percolator coffee and drip coffee is the brewing method.

Percolated coffee: the water rises up through the central stem and then up and over the coffee grounds and is brewed more than once as it is cycled up and through the coffee beans time and time again.

Drip coffee is brewed using gravity where the water is channelled and dripped over the coffee grounds and brewed only once.

The resulting cups of coffee are also very different. Percolated coffee is full flavored and deep tasting while drip coffee is crisp and clean tasting.

Frequently Asked Questions About How To Make Coffee In An Electric Percolator

How Many Scoops Of Coffee Do I Put In My Electric Percolator?

For your personal taste abide by the TAFO rule, Test And Find Out!. Usually one scoop of coarsely ground coffee per cup is good for making a strong brew. For a weaker brew and lighter tasting cup of coffee use half a scoop.

How Do You Know When Coffee Is Ready In An Electric Percolator?

When your coffee percolator starts to percolate and makes that familiar spluttering sound, the brewing process is usually ready or close to being ready. Electric percolators usually have an auto-off where the heat is removed automatically. When the heat clicks off, your percolator coffee is ready.

A manual stovetop you will need to remove your percolator from the heat source

What Is The Coffee Water Ratio For A Percolator?

The ideal coffee to water ratio is 1:18 to hit the golden ratio as defined by the SCAA, the Specialty coffee association of America. Most people use a 1:16. 

Many people use one tablespoon of coffee per cup of water for a strong coffee and 1 teaspoon for a weak cup of coffee

How Long To Perk Coffee In An Electric Percolator?

If you want to brew a regular strength cup of coffee, then a good percolating time is 5 minutes. For a stronger cup of coffee, 7 minutes is a good percolating time

Does Percolator Use Lot Of Electricity?

No, most percolators fall in the 600 to 800 watts range and are on for around 6 minutes on average and thus use 80 watt-hours or 0.08 Kilowatt hours.

What Setting Should A Percolator Coffee Be?

The grind setting on your coffee grinder for a percolator coffee is a coarse grind. Most people enjoy a coffee brewed using a grind size that the three highest grind settings on your coffee grinder. The size of the grind will affect how strong your coffee will be.

Experiment and find out what suits you best.

Do You Use Filter With Electric Coffee Percolator?

It is entirely optional. The coffee basket is fine for most people, but you can use a filter if you so desire.

What Kind Of Coffee Do You Use In An Electric Percolator?

You can use any coffee bean and roast that you so wish. In my experience, light roasts don’t work so well. Look for a medium roast and upwards. Always use whole beans, and then grind them yourself using a ceramic conical burr grinder. It is better for optimal freshness and flavor.

Frappé-Ing It All Up – How To Make Coffee In An Electric Percolator

Learning how to make coffee in an electric percolator is easy and requires slightly less effort than the stovetop version. For a quality cup, stick to the 1: 12 to 1:15 coffee to water ratio, use a coarse grind size and medium roasted coffee beans and follow the step-by-step instructions found in this article.

Join our cool coffee community and tell us about your own experiences of making percolated coffee. Do you have “secret” special beans that work great with this brewing method? Let us all know! Find us on Facebook/Meta.

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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