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How to Make Coffee in a Large Percolator

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How to Make Percolator Coffee

When it comes to making large quantities of coffee, a percolator is generally the way to go. It gives you a larger quantity and still makes sure that your coffee is going to taste great. 

But you still need to consider some of the different features of that percolator and some of the pros and cons of its use.

Coffee Percolator Pros and Cons

Extra Strong – If you like strong coffee, you’re absolutely going to like brewing it in a percolator because that’s exactly what you’re going to get. Because the brewing process happens at a hot temperature, you’re going to get even more of the flavor.

High Quantity – If you’re brewing for a lot of people, you want to make sure you have plenty of coffee all at one time, and that’s exactly what’s going to happen when you use a percolator. You can get up to 30 cups of coffee at once.

Classic – Brewing in a percolator is just the classic, and for some people, that’s exactly what they want. It reminds them of bygone times or even their own childhood.

Bitter Flavor – If you’re not careful, that strong coffee could actually be quite bitter. If you’re not a fan of bitter coffee, you might want to look for other options to brew that larger quantity.

Basic Options – You’re not going to have a whole lot of options when it comes to brewing coffee in a percolator. In fact, you’re only going to be able to brew a pot of coffee, rather than different flavors of coffee-related drinks like espresso.

Grounds – Coffee grounds can very easily get into a percolator, which is definitely not something that you want in your coffee. If you’re not really careful, you can end up with those grounds and no way to get them out.

Coffee Percolator Instructions

If you’re looking to use a percolator, you want to make sure that you’re doing it the right way. Luckily, it’s not difficult to use a percolator once you get the hang of it.

  1. Remove the cover, stem, and basket from inside of the percolator.
  2. Fill with cold water.
  3. Reassemble stem and basket.
  4. Wet the bottom of the basket and fill it with coffee grounds.
  5. Plug in and go.

Just five steps and you’re going to be all set brewing your coffee. It’s a really simple process, but one that takes a little bit of care because you need to avoid getting coffee grounds outside of the basket.

How to Make a Coffee in a Percolator

When it comes to making that first cup of coffee or pot of coffee in a percolator, you’re going to need to look at the steps below to make sure you’re doing it right. 

It’s actually quite simple to do because all you need to do is clean the percolator, remove the stem and basket, pour water into the base, and assemble it again.

Once you’ve assembled the unit back together, you can add the coffee grounds into the basket and put the cover back on. 

You’re then ready to plug in the percolator if you have an electric one or set it on a burner or over the stove if you don’t. Let it go for at least 7 minutes on a burner, and you’ll be ready to go.

Real Life Percolator Tricks

When it comes to using your percolator, you want to make sure you’re doing it properly, and that requires a few important tips and tricks.

  1. Make sure everything is cleaned. You want to use a mild dish soap to wipe out the percolator itself as well as each of the components. That includes even the basket and stem because you don’t want leftover coffee or grounds from the last time you made coffee getting into your fresh coffee.
  2. Make sure you get a coarse grind of your beans before you put them into the percolator. Where you might want a fine grind for a traditional coffee maker, percolators tend to let more of the grind through if you make it too fine.
  3. Check the coffee in an electric percolator after about 5 minutes. That’s when you should have the perfect level of extraction. If you’re putting it over a fire or on a stove, you may want to give it a few more minutes to make sure it’s hot.
  4. Unplug the percolator as soon as you’re done brewing. Don’t leave the coffee to sit in the percolator with the unit running. You could scorch your coffee, or you could overheat the percolator itself if you’re not careful.

How a Coffee Percolator Works

A coffee percolator works by heating the water in the base of your percolator and bringing it up to the top where the coffee grounds are. 

That hot water is then flushed through the coffee grounds to absorb the flavor of the beans and then cycled back through the rest of the percolator. As you continue to heat it, the water continues to heat, and it continues to pull more flavor out of the beans.

You’ll actually be able to see the system and the way that it works if you take a look inside of your percolator. If you have an electric system, it will heat on its own while it’s plugged in.

If you have a stove-top one, you’ll heat the water and brew the coffee by heating it from the bottom.

Understanding the Different Parts of Your Percolator

There are actually only a few different parts associated with your percolator. In general, these are the main pot, the base, the tube, the lid, and the filter basket. Yours might look a little different depending on the specific type of percolator that you have and what type of heating element it has.

The main pot is the part that you will fill with water while the tube pulls the water up and into the filter-basket, which is where you’re going to put the grounds. You’ll then have the lid that covers everything. 

Underneath, you’re going to have a base that holds the heating element of an electric percolator.

What Kind of Coffee Should You Use?

When you’re getting ready to brew with a percolator, you want to make sure that you have the right type of coffee because that’s how you’re going to get the right flavor.

In general, you’re going to want a medium roast, because this will give you a good balance of flavor without being too weak or too strong, especially since the water cycles through the grounds so much.

You also want to make sure the coffee is ground coarse or that it’s designed specifically for a percolator. That’s how you can make sure that it’s not going to get grounds in the coffee. If you use too fine of a grind, you’ll find grounds getting into the coffee itself.

Measuring the Grounds and Brewing Time

Making enough coffee for everyone means that you need to measure out the right amount of grounds. You need to know how much coffee your percolator is able to hold before you’ll be able to get started. 

If you have a 30 cup percolator, you’ll need approximately 20 ½ or 21 cups of water, and you’ll need about 2 to 2 ½ cups of coffee grounds. This brews about 25 to 30 minutes to get all of the flavor and heat.

If you’re brewing in a larger percolator, which might hold up to 100 cups of coffee, you’ll need 68 to 69 cups of water, and you’ll need a total of 6 to 6 ½ cups of coffee grounds. This size percolator will take up to 80 minutes or more before you’ll be able to get hot, fresh coffee. Keep in mind that the more you’re brewing, the more time you need.

Characteristics of a Coffee Made in a Percolator

When you make your coffee in a percolator, you’re going to have a whole lot of benefits. That’s because a percolator makes a whole lot different coffee than you’re going to find when you’re creating coffee in a standard coffee maker.

Better Flavor – The flavor of your coffee is going to be a whole lot stronger when it comes to brewing in a percolator. You’re going to have a bit more bitter flavor, but if you’re the type of person who loves a strong flavor, you’re going to like it this way.

Hot Coffee – If you want your coffee to be extremely hot, then you’re definitely going to want to make your coffee this way because a percolator definitely gets all of the heat you need. In fact, because it’s creating steam and the water is boiling, you’re going to get coffee hotter than you’ve probably ever had.

Cloudy Appearance – On the other side of things, the coffee itself could look cloudy rather than looking the way it would out of a coffee maker. That’s because of the way that the grounds are dispersed through the coffee and the way that the coffee is continually heated.

Sediment – You could end up with coffee grounds inside the cup of coffee that you’re drinking because too fine of grounds can actually get through the filter and into the base of the percolator. You’ll have to be extremely careful about loading it and also about the type of grounds you use.

How to Clean and Maintain Your Percolator

Keeping your percolator clean and ready to go is extremely important, so you want to make sure that you’re doing everything you can to wipe it out and wash it after every use. 

This means washing out grounds and coffee that’s leftover as soon as you are done. You’ll also want to use water with dish soap to soak the percolator and wipe it out.

Make sure you rinse out all of the soap so you’re not getting any of it sticking to the sides of the percolator, which could affect the flavor of your coffee and cause stomach problems. You also want to scrub out any stains that might occur from leaving coffee for too long.

Keep in mind that the stem of the percolator is the most important part when it comes to cleaning because it’s the hardest to clean. It’s also the most likely to get covered in oils and other pieces from the percolator and the entire brewing process.

If you need to deep clean your percolator, you can use a couple of tablespoons of baking soda in water and heat it as you would coffee. Then cool it down and scrub out the stains. You can do the same with vinegar if you prefer. Make sure that you brew a pot of water after washing with vinegar to get the smell out.


Overall, you’re going to have a number of great benefits when it comes to brewing your coffee in a percolator. It’s not just about being able to brew in large quantities. It’s also about being able to brew hot and strong coffee that really maximizes everything you’re looking for. There’s no reason to settle for anything less than what you want.

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