What is the Best Coffee for Percolators?

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If you are wondering what type of coffee is best for percolators – I have good news! You can use just about any coffee in a percolator to make the best cup.

But there are a few things that can affect the taste – so you want to pay close attention to these factors:

  • Type of grind
  • amount of coffee grinds to amount of water ratio
  • and the type of percolator that you have.

I am a huge fan of a good, strong cup of coffee. And I find that using a percolator is the best way to get that bold taste.

You are probably familiar with a how a percolator works – since you are looking for the best coffee for percolators.

But I will go over the basics first, so you can better understand how you can use your favorite brand of coffee in this type of coffee maker.

3 colors of coffee beans and spoon

How a Percolator Works

Percolators are kind of a throwback way to make coffee. They've been around for decades and used to be a staple in every kitchen.

Over the years percolators gave way to drip coffee makers, single serve machines like Keurig, and now even specialty coffee machines that you can use to whip up espressos and cappuccinos on the daily.

But if you are looking for a hot steaming cup of strong coffee – nothing beats a percolator (in my opinion).

A standard percolator has a tray (with holes in it) for the coffee grounds at the top of the unit and a hollow tube (sort of like a long metal straw) that supports the coffee ground tray at the top and runs down into the base of the unit.

The heating element for the percolator is in the bottom or the base.

As the water inside the percolator heats up it causes pressure from steam to build which pushes the water up through the center tube.

This water spouts out over the top of the coffee grounds and then filters back into the main chamber of the percolator – and the process continues to repeat until the brewing process is done.

In theory, this results in a nice strong cup of coffee because not only are you pushing water through the coffee grounds (like a drip coffee machine) but you are then essentially pushing partially brewed coffee back through the coffee grounds with each cycle.

How to Make the Perfect Cup of Coffee in a Percolator

Once you understand how the percolator works, you can see that any type of coffee should work just fine.

If your percolator coffee tastes weak – then you likely have to adjust your coffee to water ratio.

The best way to do this is through trial and error – as long as you take good notes.

Yes, I said notes!

Amount of Coffee and Water to Use

This is my recipe to brew the perfect cup of coffee – and it works for percolators too. Use the following ratios of coffee to water as your starting point.

These ratios will vary depending on the type of coffee you are using and your own individual taste among other things.

  • 3 heaping tablespoons coffee with 4 1/2 cups of water
  • 4 heaping tablespoons coffee with 6 cups of water
  • 5 heaping tablespoons coffee with 7 1/2 cups of water
  • 6 heaping tablespoons coffee with 9 cups of water
  • 7 heaping tablespoons coffee with 10 1/2 cups of water
  • 8 heaping tablespoons coffee with 12 cups of water

What Kind of Coffee Grounds to Use

The grind of coffee that you use in a percolator may not noticeably change the taste of your coffee – but it can effect the amount of grinds that make their way into your actual cup of coffee.

As I mentioned above, the tray that holds the coffee grounds has holes in it to allow the water to filter through the grounds and flow back into the water chamber.

If the coffee that you use is ground very fine the some of the grinds will slip through those holes and end up in your coffee.

So, the best grind to use in a percolator is somewhere between a medium and coarse ground.

Also, with any coffee maker, fresh ground whole coffee beans will give you the best taste.

Ideally, you can use a home whole bean grinder with presets like this coffee grinder from Cuisinart – and set the grind to be somewhere between medium and coarse.

Another option is to use a coffee filter in your percolator – and they do actually make filters for this purpose. Here are some choices:

If you decide to go this route – be sure to check the measurements to see if it fits in your percolator before you order.

Coarse Ground Coffee for Percolators

If you don't plan to grind your own coffee, here is a list of coarse ground coffee that you can try.

I have to say that I had a really hard time finding coarsely ground coffee options that were not specifically for cold brew. And honestly, I am not sure if coarsely ground cold brew formulations would work for making a hot cup of coffee in a percolator.

If you have tried it – please leave a comment below to let me know the brand of coffee you used and how it turned out.

I will tell you that I usually use regular ground coffee in my percolator with no major issues. Maybe a few grounds make it into the coffee but they settle at the bottom of the pot – so, it hasn't been a big deal for me.

What Type of Percolator To Use

Another thing to consider when it comes to the taste of your percolator coffee is the type of percolator that you use.

Typically, you can either get an electric percolator or a camping style or stove top percolator.

I have only used the electric style and I prefer that because it will automatically shut off when the brewing is complete.

With a stove stop style, I imagine you would have to remove the coffee from the heat at the appropriate time.

If you leave the coffee on the stove for too long, you may get a burnt or bitter taste in your coffee.

Electric Percolator Options

Stove Top Coffee Percolator Options

If you prefer to perk your coffee on the stove – then here are some options to consider.

What Coffee Do You Use In Your Percolator?

Although any type of coffee works in a percolator (it really is about getting the coffee to water ratio just right) I would love to hear about your favorites in the comments below.

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