How to Use an Electric Percolator: Master the Art of Brewing

What is an Electric Percolator?

Knowing how to use an electric percolator was an essential skill for coffee lovers in the 1970s; this was before the rise of drip coffee brewers. An electric percolator is a coffee brewer machine that uses steam and gravity for cycling water through ground coffee to extract flavor.

In this article, we’ll share how to use an electric percolator and tips for choosing the best electric coffee percolator. Let’s get started.

Cup of coffee with metal coffee percolator

How to Use an Electric Coffee Percolator

Before making coffee in a percolator, it is essential to understand how this machine works. First, It consists of filter baskets, a percolator pot, and a pump stem. If done correctly, percolated coffee has a fantastic, rich coffee flavor. The coffee grounds stay in the top filter basket, and hot water boils until it rises through a tube into them.

After which, they gradually return to the pot and circulate again through the grounds. The principle of a percolator is the same as that of a drip coffee maker. However, because the percolated brew passes back through the grounds, it will be stronger than that of a drip coffee maker. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to use an electric coffee percolator:

Step 1: Use Ground Coffee

Your percolator needs high-quality, coarse coffee grinds to brew a nice cup, much like a stovetop coffee maker. If you begin with whole beans, the ideal method is to ground them first.

For each cup you wish to prepare, you’ll need one tablespoon of ground coffee to yield a potent brew. Avoid dark-roasted beans if you want the greatest flavor. The percolator works best with a medium roast.

Step 2: Put Water in the Reservoir 

You should add enough water to the percolator to produce the desired amount of coffee. Although the temperature of your water is unimportant, cold water will take longer to heat.

Step 3: Turn on Your Percolator

Plug the electrical plug into the wall after ensuring all components are dry from the previous wash.

Step 4: Place Your Ground Coffee in the Upper Basket

Make a careful bed of coffee grounds around the pump stem and place a paper filter in the perforated basket if necessary.

Step 5: Place the Perforated Basket and Central Tube

Close the lid after positioning the vertical tube and filter basket.

Step 6: Allow the Brewing Process to Finish

Although most models include a start button, other models will brew automatically. After a short while, your electric percolator will automatically turn off, just like a drip coffee maker.

Step 7: Remove the Basket and Perk Tube

Remove the basket and central tube after brewing and dispose of the leftover coffee grinds.

Step 8: Serve and Clean Your Percolator

Allow your freshly-brewed coffee a few minutes to cool before serving. When cleaning your gadget, always follow the percolator coffee instructions from the manufacturer. In most cases, unplug the percolator from the electrical outlet and use soapy water to clean it while the stainless steel is still warm. This makes it easier to remove coffee residues from brewing.

Certain electric percolators allow you to modify the brew time, but not all of them. If your coffee tastes bitter, you probably set a long brew time. You can end the brew early by turning the percolator off or unplugging it. Start the process and set a kitchen timer for the time you want to brew as you would with a pour-over or French press.

Advantages of an Electric Coffee Percolator

Easy to Operate

How to use an electric percolator is a crucial consideration when evaluating one. These practical tools require little effort and are simple to use. Making coffee requires a few simple steps: add coffee grounds and water, plug it into a power outlet, and wait. When your coffee is ready, the appliance will shut off if yours has an automated shut-off feature.

Keeps Your Coffee Warm

Electric percolators keep coffee warm longer than automatic drip coffee makers after brewing. This is a result of the percolator’s high operating temperatures.

Easy to Clean

Like French presses, you can easily disassemble an electric percolator for thorough cleaning. Because of this, maintaining the percolator is more simple than maintaining, say, a drip machine. Doing this lets you keep your coffee setup free of residue buildup and the unpleasant flavors of using dirty coffee brewing equipment.


Thanks to their versatility, you can use your electric percolator to brew other beverages besides plain coffee. For example, you can use a percolator to create a cup of espresso.


Because of the brewing procedure, you can precisely alter the brew duration to suit your preferences and produce the ideal cup of coffee. For those who desire it, a percolator is great for brewing strong coffee; however, you can also adjust it to produce a moderate taste if you prefer your coffee weaker.

Produces a Rich and Tasty Coffee

Using an electric percolator gives you a much richer coffee with a more complex flavor than a drip coffee maker. This is due to the percolator’s usage of a double brewing procedure and higher boiling temperature. Many people associate nostalgia with the visual appeal of or the flavor of coffee brewed in a percolator, an antiquated way of brewing. 

Portable and Durable

When you need a portable coffee maker, such as to take to work or bring on a camping trip, percolators can be a perfect solution. Additionally, these machines are solid and durable. They are unlikely to shatter during usage or shipment.

Brews More Coffee Faster

The percolator can be your best option if you need to prepare a large amount of coffee quickly. Some coffee makers have a capacity of up to 12 cups.

Disadvantages of an Electric Coffee Percolator

  • A percolator’s last pot of coffee can taste bland or flat. When using a percolator, it’s simple to over-extract coffee, leaving you with a scorched, bitter taste that you’ll notice when drinking it.
  • Every time the coffee filters through the percolator, it gets heated and cooked; thus, occasionally, percolated coffee can taste like reheated coffee.
  • Coffee grinds may occasionally end up in your cup when you pour percolated coffee since boiling water continuously passes through the grounds.
  • Although you can carefully control how long your coffee percolates, it might be tricky to get it just how you like it. Getting the time and water temperature in your percolator just right may take some trial and error.

FAQs on Electric Coffee Percolators

How to Clean an Electric Percolator

After each brew, throw away the old grinds or add them to a compost pile. Then, take any parts you can out to clean separately. Rinse each component thoroughly in warm, soapy water to remove oils and coffee stains. To reach the water pipe’s interior, use a pipe cleaner.

Be sure to read the cleaning directions if you use an electric percolator. For most of them, you should not fully submerge in water; doing so risks damaging the heating elements. Your best bet is a wet washcloth or sponge.

Once you remove all the leftover material, rinse off any soap, leave the lid open, and keep the pieces apart so that they may air dry. Before reassembling, thoroughly dry all elements to prevent mustiness and bacterial growth.

Does an Electric Coffee Percolator Make Good Coffee?

Indeed electric coffee percolators make great and tasty coffee. The flavor is unbeatable. Because this machine continuously cycles boiling water through the ground coffee, it produces a strong brewed coffee with a smooth and creamy taste.

Using a percolator offers advantages and disadvantages, much like other brewing techniques. Most people adore electric percolators since they provide the best coffee and will only use them. Some are passionate about the percolator approach because they get double-brewed coffee at once.

How Many Scoops of Coffee Do I Put in My Electric Coffee Percolator?

Percolators use the same ratio of coffee to water as drip brewing techniques. Most people use one tablespoon of coffee grounds for every eight fluid ounces (236.59 milliliters) of water. Depending on your preferences, you can change the amount of coffee used to make a lesser or more potent brew.

Our Top Tips for Using Electric Percolators

  • Make sure you do not overfill your coffee percolator. It might overflow and create a mess if you do. The fill line inside most percolators indicates the maximum water capacity.
  • No matter where you’re brewing, a percolator works best with a medium heat setting. You don’t want the coffee to boil fully because that could scald it and give it a burnt, bitter flavor. You should brew coffee at 195°Fahrenheit to 205°Fahrenheit (90.55°Celsius to 96.11°Celsius), which is a little lower than the 212°Fahrenheit (100°Celsius) needed to bring water to a rolling boil. If the temperature drops too low, the coffee may become under-extracted and weak. This makes using a manual percolator challenging because you are responsible for maintaining the proper water temperature.
  • If you’re using a manual percolator, gradually raise the water’s temperature before lowering it after the brew starts. You can accomplish this by reducing the burner temperature on a hob or placing the object farther away from a campfire. By regulating the temperature, you prevent over-extraction, which can make your coffee taste bitter.
  • If leftover coffee grounds are at the bottom of the pot, it means your coffee beans were too finely ground. Next time you brew, adjust the setting to coarser ground.
  • Use a thermometer to confirm the temperature while brewing to obtain the optimum flavor. Try to get one with a long stem to avoid getting burned by steam when checking the water’s temperature.

Bonus Tips: Percolating a Great Cup of Coffee

As with any brewing technique, grinding your coffee correctly before brewing is the best way to ensure a good cup. Even while you’re out on the trail, hand grinders provide you with this choice, albeit they can be a bit strenuous to operate. You must decide if a cup with more scent and flavor is worth the extra work.

Verify that you’re using a burr grinder if you’re grinding at home. Coarse grinds don’t work well in blade grinders. On these models, the length of the grind affects the grind size. You will get some large particles from a rapid pulse, but you will also get a lot of fine, smaller fragments. This inconsistent brewing not only increases the likelihood of an uneven brew but also increases the likelihood of grounds in your cup.

Additionally, the type of coffee you drink matters. The best-tasting roasts are often medium or light. Do not use dark roasts because they have a bitter taste than other beans. You can use light roasts, although they probably won’t taste as excellent as they would with other brewing techniques.

Even in the hands of an experienced barista, percolators aren’t the best technique to bring out subtle aromas from your coffee. You might wish to refrain from brewing beans with more delicate notes.

The best percolator brewing results from using coffee cultivated in Colombia or Brazil. These beans have a deep chocolate flavor that compliments their rich smoothness and balance. Some coffees from Indonesia and Central America can also taste rather good.

Generally, avoiding beans produced in Papua New Guinea or Africa would be best, particularly in Kenya and Ethiopia. These beans have a high level of acidity, which might overpower an electric percolator brew.

Important Considerations Regarding Electric Coffee Percolators

The ground level of your coffee beans determines if anything will get through the filter. Some people advise placing paper filters in the basket with medium-ground coffee. If all you have is pre-ground coffee, this might be an option, but it’s not the ideal way to make a cup that tastes excellent.

More surface area results from more finely ground coffee. Using fine or medium grind makes it highly probable that you will extract more compounds from the coffee than you want, particularly the bitter part that comes through on the back end, given the brew’s duration and the water’s heat in an electric percolator coffee machine. 

This is known as “over-extraction”; and is the leading cause of claims that percolator coffee doesn’t taste as excellent as coffee made using other brewing techniques.

Another thing to remember is that manual and electric percolators are not interchangeable. The bases of these pots cannot accept heat from other sources, even though the heating system on the electric coffee percolator machine is a separate component.

They might have more electrical components frequently constructed of heat-sensitive materials like plastic. For this reason, you should only use an electric coffee percolator with the heat source that comes with it.

Electric Percolator: Buying Guide

Material, size, and speed are among the most crucial considerations to make if you’re looking for a good electric percolator.


When making coffee, the material of your coffee pot is crucial. Choose a model with a coffee filter and a pot made of stainless steel. You’ll get the tastiest coffee and the purest flavor from stainless steel electric percolators. Avoid using percolators made of metal or plastic; these might also leach dangerous substances into the brew and affect the taste.

Brewing Speed

Each minute counts while waiting for your first cup in the morning before you start your day. Most electric percolators can brew one cup of coffee every minute. Before deciding, you should check the brew time you are considering.


You have choices in terms of features. The experience of brewing coffee gets simplified and improved with additional features. Some electric coffee percolators allow you to program the brewing time in advance, thanks to a timer.

When your coffee is ready, automatic shut-off features turn the percolator off. Even better, some percolators offer a keep-warm feature that keeps your brewed coffee warm for several hours.


The number of coffee drinkers in your family will determine whether or not size is a significant consideration. Purchasing a 12-cup pot instead of an eight-cup one could mean the difference between having everyone enjoy their coffee simultaneously and having to boil coffee all morning long. 

If you are the only one who takes coffee daily, you can always prepare less in a larger coffee pot.

Woman pouring coffee from a percolator

Final Verdict

The allure of electric coffee percolators is undeniable. Our grandfathers used them to produce great-tasting coffee. Our sense of adventure gets sparked by pictures of cowboys brewing coffee while out on the trail.

You can create a full cup of coffee using an electric percolator anytime. This machine offers an excellent way to have a strong and flavorful cup of coffee without much effort.

If you have an electric percolator at home, you can continue old customs while taking advantage of modern conveniences. You can make great coffee with one of these traditional brewers using the proper electric percolator, the right coffee grind, and a little experience.