Paul's passion for making and consuming coffee extends back over thirty-five years. Born in England, he currently lives in Florida.
Many people, including myself, appreciate the strong and satisfying flavor of a percolated coffee brew.
There's also something soothing about the aroma of coffee brewing on the stove and the sound of a burbling brewer.
Using one of these straightforward, no-nonsense coffee makers means that there's no need to mess around with filter papers, or work with complicated settings.
Stovetop percolators do have their downsides too, though: for one thing, not everybody appreciates the robust taste.
This article looks at seven positives and seven negatives of these coffee brewers.
7 Benefits of Stovetop Percolators
- Taste: While it's a question of individual preference, many coffee drinkers simply love the fuller, more robust taste that you get with percolators. The flavor is richer and deeper than anything that you'd get from, say, a drip coffee machine.
- Practical: Percolators can be taken with you when you travel. No electricity is required, just a heat source, so they are great for outdoor use. Some models are specifically designed for use with a camping stove or open fire. They are also an excellent brewer to take with you when traveling in an RV.
- Easy to use: Brewing is straightforward, there is no programming or messing around with complicated settings. You don't have to buy or stock paper filters either. You just add your coffee and water to the percolator and brew.
- Versatile: While they're primarily designed for a straightforward brew, if you know what you're doing, you can also use percolators to make espresso-style beverages. While it's technically not quite espresso, it's a fun thing to do for a change.
- Easy to clean: Aside from looking messy, the residue build-up left over by coffee can affect the taste of beverages with a brewer that's not efficiently maintained. Percolators are relatively straightforward to take apart and clean compared to other types of coffee maker.
- The coffee stays hot: The high-temperature method that percolators use means that the brewed coffee will naturally stay hot for longer. Most percolators retain heat well.
- Pleasure to the senses: The sight and sound of a percolator, bubbling and brewing happily on the stove, is difficult not to love. These makers provide an unbeatable aroma and atmosphere for the home.
7 Downsides of Stovetop Percolators
- One-trick pony: This type of brewer is really designed to make only one type of coffee. There are no settings to fine-tune the brew, no programs to set. You either like the coffee the percolator produces or you don't.
- Flavor: The flavor of the coffee beverages that percolators produce is simply too robust for some people's taste. It's certainly strong when compared with some other types of maker, such as a drip coffee machine.
- Fragile glass: The glass models look great but can be easy to break, I know this from experience. That shouldn't necessarily put you off them, but it is something to be aware of when deciding what to buy.
- Takes practice: Eventually, you learn to make perfect beverages consistently, but it does take time and experience to use a percolator. Some people prefer to have a programmable coffee maker, as once set up, they can then just press a button and get their ideal brew every time without much additional effort or monitoring.
- Easy to burn: Percolator coffee is easy to over brew, if you're not careful. When the hot water is allowed to go over the grounds too many times, it sours the coffee and results in beverages that are bitter tasting.
- Messy: Another downside of percolators is that spillages can be relatively common. This is because the brewing method involves the hot coffee rising up into the upper chamber and, if the percolator is not removed from the heat in time, it can spill over and leak all over the stovetop. Coffee stains can be difficult to remove.
- More involved: For those looking to make a quick and easy brew before they go to work, percolators can seem like a lot of trouble. Drip makers can be more practical for busy users. Not only do percolators have a longer brewing time than most drip makers, but they need to be monitored closely, as they can easily burn the coffee or spill over.
Stovetop Percolators vs. Drip Coffee Makers
Drip coffee makers are generally the most common type of home coffee maker, certainly in the United States, so it's useful to compare them with percolators.
One major difference between the two types of coffee maker is the strength and taste of the coffee produced. If you prefer your coffee to be robust in character, then you're probably going to prefer a percolator, as the grounds are essentially double brewed.
However, while a drip coffee maker generally produces drinks that are weaker, the flavor tends to be cleaner and less bitter, as the brewing process involves the water passing through the grounds only a single time.
Other Major Differences
Which type of maker is best is very much a question of individual preference, but generally speaking:
- Fans of percolators see them as more straightforward to use, as there are no complicated settings to contend with and you don't have to buy and mess around with filter papers. Essentially, all you have to do is just put your coffee and water in and set the percolator on the stove.
- Fans of drip makers typically appreciate having more control over the brewing process and being able to just press a button and then come back later, without having to do any of the babysitting that's involved with watching percolators and preventing them from burning the coffee or bubbling over.
My Favorite Stovetop Coffee Percolator
I currently own a Farberware Classic Yosemite percolator and I love it. I got it to replace a glass percolator, which sadly broke when it was being washed. After that experience, I wanted a maker that was more sturdy and going to last.
The Yosemite can be bought online for a very reasonable sum, I bought mine for less than twenty dollars, that's excellent value for money in my opinion.
- It's very sturdily constructed and well designed and has a stainless steel finish. I can't imagine that I will have any cause to replace this maker in the foreseeable future.
- It has an elegant, attractive appearance that I appreciate.
- Cleaning is generally easy, as I can just put it in the dishwasher.
- The permanent filter basket means that there's no need for buying paper filters.
- It's not the fastest brewer that I've used, I wouldn't advise it for people who need their coffee in a hurry.
- While I love the overall design, the percolator can sometimes retain some water when I rinse it out.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2022 Paul Goodman