Over 80% of Americans drink coffee on a daily basis, and if you're reading this, then you probably fit into that demographic. Most people would go nuts if coffee production were to stop.
The first day of total collapse would be marked by coffee-starved rioters taking every bag they could carry off the shelves of grocery stores, and Starbucks would be protected by the riot police.
Coffee's pretty important to humans. Whether you just like your morning cup of Joe, you're a student who drinks over a gallon a day, or you're an experienced coffee connoisseur, you've probably used a coffee maker before.
Traditionally, you throw some ground beans into a filter, pour some water in the base, press the ‘start' button, and wait for your lifeblood to slowly drip into the coffee pot.
But what if there were a different way? What if you could drink a cup of your favorite beverage that tasted far better and was far more satisfying than the dingy old coffeepot in the corner of your office breakroom?
In recent years, traditional methods of making coffee have made a resurgence. People are french pressing, hand pouring and percolating their coffee. In this article, we've put together all the information that you need to know to purchase your first coffee percolator and get you introduced to the wonderful world of traditionally-made coffee.
Best Coffee Percolators
Best Stovetop Percolators
Best Coffee Percolators
Hopefully, by this point, we've convinced you of the many benefits of percolators. But with so many options on the market, you may still be a little confused, so we decided to go farther and give you some great product recommendations.
We cut through the chafe and found some of the best-reviewed percolators on the market. We've divided them up into two categories: electric and stovetop percolators. Let's start with our top electric percolators.
Winner: Farberware 12-Cup Percolator
With a 12-cup capacity, who can argue with this one. You can make enough coffee to share with your entire office. This beautiful percolator will also make a great addition to your kitchen countertop. It has a tall, slender shape and it’s polished stainless steel surface will have you showing this percolator off to everybody. Some notable features:
Before we go any further, we should mention Farberware's quality construction. The stainless steel is scratch proof, easy to clean and is hard to ding up. You could drop this percolator every day, and it would probably still work as good as it did day one. This makes it one of the best electric percolators that you can buy.
If you’ve ever dropped a coffee pot, given yourself some bad burns, and been the brunt of the morning’s first joke (or is that just me?), then rest assured you will be hard-pressed to every drop this percolator.
Because this is such a large percolator, it’s going to be heavy which makes it important to get a good grip on it. The handle is long, rounded and easy to hold. It’s also heat-proof, and will always remain cool to the touch.
The final feature we love about this product is that it heats coffee at a quick rate of 1-cup per minute. When it's early in the morning, and you're trying to get out the door, you don't want to have to wait forever for your coffee to be ready. You can fill this Faberware percolator all the way up and have 12-cups in under 15 minutes.
Runner-Up: West Bend Classic Electric Percolator
This is another 12-cup percolator but can brew anywhere from 2 to 12 cups at a time, depending on how much you want to make. It's durable stainless steel build is scratch resistant and hard to dent up, which is a nice feature if you plan on sharing it with the family breakfast table. Some notable features:
If you’re a forgetful person and have a tendency of forgetting about the pot of coffee that you just made only to come back to it being freezing cold, then the West Bend Classic is the percolator for you.
It has a great ‘keep-warm’ feature which will keep your coffee warm no matter how long you forget about. This also makes it a great choice for those who prefer to take their time sipping their coffee.
This percolator also has a nice indicator light on the side, so you know exactly when your coffee's ready instead of having to open the lid and guess at it. There is also a handy coffee-level meter on the handle, so you know just how much coffee you have left, and when it's time to add more.
One of the things that we also really liked about the West Bend percolator is trivial, but it makes a difference in your experience if you're a true lover of coffee. This unit doesn’t have the loud noise that many brewers have. As your coffee brews, you can hear it bubbling and percolating in the pot, which has a way of really building your anticipation for your morning joe.
Alternative: Hamilton Beach 40616 12-Cup Percolator
If neither of those suit your quality needs, or you’re looking for something that’s a little bit cheaper, then the Hamilton Beach Percolator is a great alternative. Like the West Bend, this also has a handy “keep-warm” feature that lets you keep your coffee warm for hours at a time. Some notable features:
This pot is sturdy and hefty and is housed in heavy weight stainless steel with an aesthetic chrome finish that's so polished it could double as a mirror. It has a thick, solid handle which makes it easy to hold and hard to drop, which is always a plus.
Another nice feature that shows Hamilton Beach’s thoughtful design is the drip-free spout. They accomplish this by giving the tip of the spout sharp upward edge that prevents additional drops from ruining your nice wood table or staining your freshly-washed tablecloth.
Best Stovetop Percolators
You might still be interested in purchasing a traditional stovetop percolator, so we picked the two that really stood out to us regarding their quality, functionality, and visual appeal. Without further ado, here they are.
Winner: Coletti “Bozeman” 9-Cup Percolator
This is truly one of the most aesthetically attractive percolators on the market. From the chrome mirror-finish to the smooth wooden handle, and the glass cover knob, it begs for attention. This is definitely the unit you’ll want to get if you want to impress somebody. Some notable features:
The wood handle is heat-proof and will let you freely carry this pot all around the house without having to worry about getting burned, and its high-angled spout is designed to be drip-free so you won't worry about making a mess.
Lest you believe that this beautiful coffee pot is fragile, think again. Not only is it eye-catching, but it’s strong as a rock. It’s named for the rugged western Montana city Bozeman, and it quality harks back to the days of making coffee by a frontier fire. The Coletti is easily one of the best stovetop percolators that you can buy.
Since this percolator isn't electrical, you can put it in the dishwasher for easy cleaning after each use, or just give it a quick soak. It holds 9 cups which is enough for most people and has a relatively quick boil time. Depending on how hot your stove gets, it shouldn't take more than 10 minutes to finish.
Runner-Up: The Medelco 8 Cup Glass Stovetop Percolator
Unlike any of the other percolators that we've looked at so far, this one stands out because of its unique glass build. If you were ever curious about just how coffee percolates, now you can watch every second as your pot of water slowly turns into a steaming hot pot of fresh coffee. Some notable features:
You may be wondering how this glass stands up to high temperatures, and the answer is very well. It passes the test for North American Electrical Safety Standards and is made from thermal and shock resistant borosilicate glass, which is the same material they use to make laboratory beakers with.
The Medelco is very easy to hand wash and is also dishwasher safe. It has an easy to hold curved handle, holds a total of 8 cups, and will heat up in under 10 minutes due to the exceptional heat transferring abilities of the borosilicate glass.
At right around $15, this is also an incredibly affordable percolator which makes it a great entry-level unit for those who are looking to percolate coffee for the first time or are on a tight budget. It’s even Amazon’s top choice for glass coffee makers.
Benefits Of Using A Coffee Percolator
Coffee percolators are perhaps the simplest of coffee machines. Cowboys and voyagers on the frontier would wake up at the crack of dawn, grind up a handful of beans put them in their cast iron percolator with some fresh water, and then set it on a rock by the fireside to boil.
Today's percolators are a little bit more sophisticated, but the concept remains the same. There is a bottom portion that holds water, a middle section that holds the ground beans, and the upper section which is where your coffee will accumulate (or percolate).
When the water boils in the bottom section, the steam rises up into the middle section with the ground beans, absorbs all of the flavor and caffeine from the coffee, and either falls back into the pot or continues to rise upwards until fresh hot coffee is deposited into the upper section of your percolator depending upon the style of percolator that you’re using.
So why are people still using this ancient technology? Why not use the fancy one cup, all-in-one espresso machines that they have in the doctor’s office? The simple answer is that sometimes the old way is the best way. Some people prefer the more hands-on method of preparing their coffee, and others say that percolated coffee tastes far better.
Let’s take a quick look at the major benefits when compared to drip machines:
The problem with a lot of drip machines is that they can burn the coffee. The heating coils can overheat the water which when poured over the grounds can give coffee a burnt and acidic taste.
Since percolators rely on steam, the coffee has far less of a chance of getting burnt. This is how the coffee growers intended people to drink it, and this method allows the coffee to develop a warm, nutty, fruity flavor.
Steam has a way of extracting the maximum amount of flavor and caffeine from the grounds which results in a stronger cup of coffee than you get with a drip machine, which often drops the coffee into the pot before it's had enough time to sit.
Stronger coffee not only tastes more robust, but it wakes you up more and gives you the most benefit per cup. One cup of percolated coffee can often have twice the amount of caffeine contained in a normal cup, which means you can use fewer coffee grounds and waste less money over time.
Easy To Clean
Drip coffee machines tend to be very difficult to clean and as a result, people rarely clean them. Since they constantly hold water, they can develop a musty smell or even grow mold places where you can’t see or reach.
Percolators only consist of a few main parts and are incredibly easy to take apart and clean. This ensures that the water used to make your morning coffee will always be clean and give you the best quality cup of joe you can drink.
Percolators are very simple systems. Anybody can use them without complication. All you need is water and coffee grounds. With a percolator, you can make coffee anywhere and anytime. You can pack them in your suitcase, keep one on your office desk, or bring them camping.
Types Of Coffee Percolators
So now that you know what benefits a percolator has over the common drip machine let's look at the next decision- the type of percolator you need. The coffee percolator was invented in the early 1800's by a British-American physicist named Benjamin Thompson, and his invention has since spread across the world.
As a result, there are quite a few variations on the classic design, but they all fall under two basic categories- gravity and pressure percolators. Each one has its advantages and disadvantages, let's take a look at them.
This is Thompson’s classic design and most commonly seen in American and European households. The gravity percolator is so named because it relies on gravity to bring down the heavy drops of coffee that have accumulated in the coffee basket.
Here’s How It Works
The one thing that is important to remember when using a gravity percolator is to remove the coffee grounds from the basket before pouring your cup. It is easy to forget, and if you do, the grounds may fall out of their basket and into the coffee when you overturn the percolator.
This percolator originated in Italy and is traditionally referred to as a Moka. This type of percolator relies on pressure and boiling water to create coffee steam. These are known for making incredibly strong coffee and are often used in the making of espresso.
Here’s How It Works
How To Choose The Best Coffee Percolator
Depending on your own personal needs or desires you will need to take a few other things into consideration before deciding upon which coffee percolator you wish to purchase.
Electric Or Stovetop?
Originally all percolators were stovetop, but in 1952 a small British company introduced electric percolators onto the market, and they have become very popular with the resurgence percolators in the last few years. However, traditionally stovetop percolators still have quite a few benefits, and shouldn’t be discounted. Let’s take a look at some of their differences.
Electric percolators are great because of their versatility and ease of use. You can use them anywhere and don't need to be near a stovetop. All you need to do is find a wall to plug the machine into so it can heat your water. This makes it a perfect option for the office or the hotel while you're traveling.
Another nice feature of electric percolators is that they keep your coffee warm for hours at a time as long as they remain plugged in. On the flip side, you do need electricity which doesn't make them a good option if you're trying to go camping.
Stovetop percolators are timeless, and you probably grew up watching your grandparents use these. As the name implies, all you have to do to heat your percolator is to place it on a stovetop or by a fireside the same as you would do with a kettle. This makes them a great option if you're going camping or are going to an area that doesn't have electricity.
Many percolators can only produce one or two small cups of coffee at a time, which is fine if you live by yourself or don’t drink a lot of coffee, but can be a dealbreaker for others.
Fortunately, they have options so that any reasonable capacity is covered. Most percolators on the market today provide an option for up to 12 cup capacity, which is about the same amount as a traditional drip coffee machine.
Typically, the larger machines tend to be electric as the water can be heated faster, so if you plan on getting a stovetop unit, you might have to accept that choice to have a smaller pot capacity.
When using an electric unit, you have to deal with cords. While something like a cord length may at first seem trivial, when you’re half asleep fumbling around with your coffee maker and trying to plug it in come morning, you will wish you had considered it. So try to purchase a unit with a longer cord if you can find one.
With as much of a necessity as coffee is in our society, why not drink the best tasting coffee? Sometimes the old ways really are the best ways, and besides producing far better-tasting coffee, a simple percolator will save you time and money in the long run.
Percolating your own coffee will also give you more of a connection to the process, the same way that cooking your food does. Who doesn’t want to be more in touch with where their coffee is from and how it’s made? In America, it’s very easy to become disconnected from what we put in our body, and day after day of pressing the same ‘start’ button can become all too monotonous.
We have tried to give you all of the information that you need to go out and buy your first coffee percolator, and we have strived to show you some of the best electric and best stovetop percolators that are on the market. So go ahead and take advantage of one of these great deals while they last!