How to Use a Stove Top Coffee Percolator

Updated on April 8, 2016
How to use a stove top coffee percolator.
How to use a stove top coffee percolator. | Source

Going "old fashioned" may seem like you're taking a step backward, and it often is. However, there are some things that are just better when done without the new devices and gadgets. Making coffee is one of them. Now, I know what you're thinking, there's nothing wrong with my electronic coffee maker. Maybe not, but until you've tried brewing your morning cup o' joe via stove top, you don't know what you're missing!

Stove top percolators often come in handy most while camping, but they don't have to be limited to adventures in the great outdoors. In fact, I am especially thankful for my stove top percolator in the wintertime, for reasons you'll soon read about!

Why use a stove top percolator?

  • They are easier to clean than electric coffee makers.
  • They don't get clogged up by the minerals in tap water, which means they won't slow down over time.
  • Electronics eventually wear out and break. A percolator will last much longer (and often costs much less) than an electric coffee maker!
  • Your electric coffee maker won't get the coffee as hot as a percolator will (this is especially nice when the weather is cold!)
  • Coffee tastes much better when brewed in a percolator than it does in an electronic coffee maker!

How to use a percolator

  1. Fill the body of the percolator up with the desired amount of water (using the measurement marks that should be located on the inside).
  2. Place the pump tube into the water, and slide the grounds basket onto the pump tube.
  3. Fill the grounds basket with the desired amount of coffee (Coffee filter is optional).
  4. Place the "spreader" on top of the grounds basket, and then snap the lid onto the percolator.
  5. Heat until the water boils, then turn the heat to a low temperature and let the coffee "perk" for several minutes before removing from the heat.
  6. Pour the coffee, and enjoy! (Careful, the coffee will be very hot!)

Note: This is not nearly as complicated as it sounds. Your percolator should come with an instruction booklet, showing you what the parts are and how to assemble them. It will also give you specific instructions for measuring and timing. For a more detailed explanation, check out the video I've included. That will tell you everything you need to know.

Cleaning Tips

Just like a normal electric coffee maker, a percolator will start to get clogged up with left-over residue from the coffee. The difference is, the percolator is much easier to clean!

The only way I know of to clean an electric coffee maker is to run white vinegar through it a couple of times every month or so. But I'm not good on keeping up with this, as it's usually a lengthy process. After running vinegar through a couple of times, I must also run it a couple more times with just water before brewing another pot of coffee. Otherwise, my coffee will taste like vinegar.

Now, you can clean your percolator this way, too. But instead, I just stick it in the dishwasher! The dishwasher does a wonderful job of removing the gunk and residue that builds up on the inside of the percolator. And between washes in the dishwasher, a little soap and water on a sponge do just fine.

Questions & Answers


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      • profile image

        Ayla 17 months ago

        I find if I am using cheap to moderately priced coffees, percolators actually improve the flavour by rounding off the harsher tastes. If I am using an expensive coffee, the drip method is actually better since I am getting all of the wonderful tastes that are rounded off by the percolating process. But nothing gets coffee as wonderfully hot as a percolator! As Scottie says, "Always use the right tool for the right job".

      • profile image

        Uncle RJ 17 months ago

        While I have had automatic drip coffee machines in the past, they really don't come close to the quality of coffee that a percolator produces.

        What's the old saying? "I like my coffee black as sin and hot as hell"

        Best I ever achieved with the new modern types is a thin coffee like substance.

        Not even close to my standards !

        Kudos for the article.

        And keep on peculating!!!

      • Dave Shaffer profile image

        Dave Shaffer 5 years ago

        A couple of points to ponder: an auto-drip is no harder or easier to clean than a percolator. And, my Braun KF-12 brews at a consistant 200 degrees...and has, for the past 6 1/2 years. As far as taste goes, the Braun brews *better* than a percolator, but not quite as well as my Corning 4-cup dripolator. Oh, and water doesn't have to *quite* come to a boil for it to start percolating, as I've seen with my 4-cup Pyrex Flameware.

      • littlemarkiesmom profile image

        littlemarkiesmom 5 years ago from The hot, humid South

        I love percolated coffee! It just can't be beat.

      • profile image

        Tammy 6 years ago

        I enjoyed your topic on percolators! At last you can now have "hot" coffee and not have to use the microwave to warm it up! I will have to come over and have coffee with you one morning and try this out! :)

      • Kristen Haynie profile image

        Kristen Haynie 6 years ago from Modesto, CA


        I didn't even know they existed until I went camping with my boyfriend's grandparents a few months ago. I thought that the percolator was a great concept (duh, they've been around forever) and got one of my own to use at home. It's great and I can't believe I never knew of them before.

        Thanks for commenting!

      • pedrn44 profile image

        Sandi 6 years ago from Greenfield, Wisconsin

        I have only used my percolator while camping and never thought to use it while at home. In fact, when my coffe pot "died" one day I did not think to use my percolator. Thanks for this tip!