Coffee Percolator Buying Guide

Are you looking for a new coffee percolator to add to your inventory? You’re in the right place. These classic brewers are what started the modern brewing trends we have today, and remain one of the best ways to create a complex, rich, and full-bodies cup of coffee you can’t get with other types of brewing.

If you were to just run a quick Google search for coffee percolators, you’d see that there are seemingly endless choices. Although we love coffee percolators, not all are created equal. That’s why we’ve done the work for you, carefully selecting a few of the best coffee percolators on the market.

For those who are new to coffee percolators, or just want to know a little bit more about them, continue reading to find some helpful information and buying advice before getting to our top picks.

Let’s jump right in with the most obvious question.

What is a Coffee Percolator?

A coffee percolator is a type of coffee brewer that uses hot water to brew coffee within the same container.

This is done by using a heat source on the bottom of the percolator, which causes the water to get hot and begin to move up a tube in the center. This water makes its way up the tube, and then disperses onto ground coffee that’s sitting on a metal filter plate.

As the water lands on the coffee grounds, it brews the grounds and then passes through the filter and back down into the bottom of the container, creating brewed coffee. This process continues on for a few minutes until the coffee is fully brewed.

How Does a Coffee Percolator Work?

Regardless of which type of brewing method you use, or are even aware of, they all rely on the same general concept of passing hot water through ground coffee in order to extract the oils and flavors and merge them with the water being used to brew. This is always the same with any brew method, but how that water is moved through the coffee is where the main differences are.

With a coffee percolator, the process begins by water first heating up in the main part of the pot. As the water begins to heat, it will eventually come to a soft boil, which causes the water to rise up a tube that’s in the middle of the pot.

This water travels to the top of the tube, where in then falls out and disperses through a flat spreader plate, and then down onto a perforated section that serves as a filter. Ground coffee is sitting on this perforated portion, and the water then moves evenly over the coffee grounds, and back down into the main container, creating the brewing process.

The water/coffee continues to recirculate and repeat this process until done brewing. Once the water settles down, and allows the grounds to settle, the coffee can then be poured out into a cup to enjoy immediately. The entire process can often be conducted very quickly.

Brewing with a Coffee Percolator

Using a coffee percolator to brew coffee can seem a little intimidating at first if you are new to the process. This is even more true if you’re using a stovetop or camping model to conduct the brewing.

With a percolator, you fill the container up with water to a certain point, and then place the tube and brew basket with the filer into the container. From there, you pour coffee grounds onto the filter at the top of the container, shut the lid, and move the percolator to a heat source to begin brewing. (If you have an electric percolator, you simply turn it on so it creates its own heat.)

The water will start to get hot, and then begin bubbling up the tube and dispersing onto the coffee grounds. After a few minutes, the brewing should be complete. You can then pour coffee directly out of the percolator to serve.

Types of Coffee Percolators

Percolators are very simple brewers that come in three distinct types, all of which use the exact same process to brew the coffee.

    • StovetopA stovetop coffee percolator is usually made from stainless steel, and relies on an external heat source on the bottom to generate the percolating process. These were the standard percolator for a number of years before electric version began to dominate the market.As the name implies, stovetop percolators are mostly used on stovetop ranges. This involves setting the percolator on a burner set to medium, and then removing it from the stove when the coffee has been brewed. These percolators can be used on electric and gas ranges.Older stovetop percolators often have some intricate and decorative designs that made them an asset to a kitchen’s aesthetics, since they were almost always left out on the stove.
  • A camping percolator is essentially a stovetop percolator, only more durable and suited to handle rugged outdoor use. These come in various metal materials, but stainless steel is the most common.

    Camping coffee percolators can range in sizes to, coming in sizes of anywhere from 2 to 12 cups in capacity. They are generally held over a campfire or grill, and require close monitoring to ensure the coffee is not over brewed.

  • Electric coffee percolators work in the same was as any other percolator, but don’t require an external heat source. With these percolators, the heat source is built into the bottom, making brewing incredibly convenient.

    Many electric coffee percolators will shut off the brewing process after a certain amount of time, helping to prevent the coffee from being brewed too long. This feature allows users to brew with a percolator, but without having to stand by and monitor the process.

The Best Coffee Percolators

Farberware 50124 Yosemite 8-Cup Coffee Percolator

Farberware 50124 Yosemite 8-Cup Coffee PercolatorWhenever most people think of camping percolators, they picture these rugged, clangy metal pitchers that look and function rather primitively. This is actually the case with a large portion of true camping percolators, but a good percolator for the outdoors doesn’t necessarily have to be that way. In fact, there are plenty of home percolators that can work just as well over a campfire.

This is indeed the case with the Farberware 50124 Yosemite 8-Cup Coffee Percolator. This percolator is already a fantastic option to use in your kitchen at home, but it’s rugged and durable enough to make it through years of camping use as well.

It all starts with the heavy-duty stainless steel the perculator is made from. The material has a polished mirror finish, but it’s also incredibly durable. The design and the shape of the percolator are a stellar match for the material, giving it a sturdy look with some vintage overtones.

On the inside, the percolator uses non-reactive material, which helps to block out smells and stains from getting trapped inside. This means you won’t have to deal with that old, bitter coffee taste that can sometimes build up inside of a percolator.

The handles on the Farberware 50124 Yosemite 8-Cup Coffee Percolator are cool to the touch, and make it easy to handle the carafe when serving coffee or holding it over a heat source when camping. The handle positions your hand away from the heat, and ensures steady pouring afterwards.

The plastic knob on top provides a clear view of the percolating action, so you can keep close watch on the brewing process, and thus know when it’s time to cease brewing.

When you’re down brewing and serving, all of the components can be run through a dishwasher cycle without any ill effects, saving you some cleaning time.

It’s worth mentioning again: the Farberware 50124 Yosemite 8-Cup Coffee Percolator is equally great in the kitchen as it is for outdoor use. Whether you’re using it to make robust & bold coffee most mornings at your home, or doing the same over a campfire under the stars, you’ll benefit from its flawless design, superior brewing abilities, and durable materials that will last a lifetime.

Hamilton Beach 40614 Electric Coffee Percolator

When it comes to electric percolators, the best percolators are the ones that can take advantage of updated technology and engineering, while still being true to what a percolator needs to be in every sense. That means offering the same brewing style that’s been around for over 100 years, and combining it with smarter designs and functions.

The Hamilton Beach 40614 Electric Coffee Percolator offers precise and calculated brewing in a matter of minutes, doing all the work for you as you simply wait. The only part you need to worry about is adding the water and grounds, and the 40614 does the rest, including keeping the coffee warm for you.

The 40614 has a more updated design than most percolators, but doesn’t forsake the overall look that indicates what it is from the moment you see it. The outer body of the percolator has a matte-like finish to its stainless steel, and is complemented by an understated handle and spout design.

With a 12-cup capacity, the 40614 can quickly brew large batches of complex, bold, and full-bodied coffee with every use, and then keep the coffee warm until it’s time to brew again. It uses a permanent metal filter with standard perforation, requiring coarsely ground coffee for best results.

Even though it’s an electric model, the 40614 still has a glass top that lets you observe the percolating process. When brewing is done, the unit automatically switches to a keep warm mode for one hour, preventing over-extraction from brewing too long, and ensuring your coffee is still hot when you’re ready to drink it.

There’s also an indicator light that comes on to let you know the brew is ready, and when you’re ready to serve from the percolator, simple remove the cord and you have an instant serving carafe. Dishwasher-safe parts make cleanup fast and easy afterwards.

The Hamilton Beach 40614 Electric Coffee Percolator is easily our favorite electric percolator on the market. This model offers the ideal combination of old and new, providing a consistent coffee brewing experience that is convenient in more ways than one.


Presto 02822 6-Cup Electric Coffee Percolator

The Presto 02822 6-Cup Electric Coffee Percolator is the go-to choice for a substantial amount of percolator buyers, and it’s easy to understand why. This brewer provides a very user-friendly experience, and delivers consistent results time after time. Add the fact that it has a refined look and one of the most affordable price points of any percolator, and you can see why it continues to be so popular.

The 02822 can brew anywhere from 2 to 6 cups at one time, and it maintains a small profile that makes it easy to store, or keep around on the counter when not in use. Its appearance looks similar to an electric kettle, with it’s shiny exterior, large knob on the top, and elegant spout design.

The percolator has a very sturdy feel to it, gives off an obvious sense of durability and quality from the moment you set it on the counter. It uses 500 watts of power for its brewing, which is more than enough to quickly heat the water for your coffee.

Once you fill the reservoir with water and add the grounds to the brew basket, the 02822 takes care of the rest, effortlessly percolating until it makes the perfect batch. From there, the unit shuts off and switches to a keep warm mode, stopping the brewing process but keeping the coffee hot until it’s served.

An indicator light is also used to show when the brew is finished, and you also have the option of detaching the power cord if you wish to serve the coffee away from where you brewed it.

The Presto 02822 6-Cup Electric Percolator offers an exceptional value for the money, and could easily cost double the price. This is one of the best ways to provide yourself with a great batch of percolator style coffee on a daily basis, without having to hover over a stove.

Chinook 41115 Coffee Percolator

The Chinook 41115 Coffee Percolator is not trying to reinvent the wheel when it comes to stovetop percolators by any means, but that works in its favor. This classic stovetop style percolator offers an understated and versatile look, and is also rugged enough to be used outdoors.

The 41115 can brew up to 6 cups at once, and is made from 18/8 stainless steel with a mirror polish finish, giving it a classy elegance that is the perfect representation of the old stovetop models from years ago. It’s lightweight, but also very durable.

The handle of the percolator uses permawood, which not only adds to its style, but also keeps the handle cool to the touch when brewing.

The lid portion has a plastic knob that allows you to see the percolating during brewing, giving you better control and insight as to the progression of the brewing process. On the inside, the percolator has a standard metal filter basket, with average-sized perforation that requires coarse grounds.

The percolator heats up very quickly thanks to its thin exterior, and makes measuring easy by including the measurement markings inside the reservoir.

After brewing, the 41115 can be cleaned up in a hurry, or you can simply place all the components into the dishwasher. It even comes with a bonus storage sack to keep it extra clean and free of dust in between uses. This is also handy if you plan on taking it camping with you.

Overall, the Chinook 41115 Coffee Percolator offers exceptional stovetop brewing thanks to quality materials and a great design. It’s a great asset to any coffee lover who wants the ability to create the perfect bold brew over the stove in just a few minutes, while enjoying the great look of the percolator in between uses.

Farberware FCP412 12-Cup Percolator

Farberware has basically perfected the stovetop percolator, but they’re equally skilled in manufacturing top-tier electric models that are true to the old design and look of the brewers from many decades ago — with the added advantage of modern features and materials.

The Farberware FCP412 comes with the same craftsmanship and quality you’d expect from their other products, and it results in an excellent electric percolator that offers a very vintage aesthetic, which is backed up with flawless brewing capabilities.

This percolator can brew up to 12 cups in one sitting, making it great for anyone who is making coffee for more than just a handful of people on a regular basis. The high capacity is reinforced by 1,000 watts of brewing power, which enables the FCP412 to brew one cup for each minute.

You’ll never have to worry about a hot handle on the top or bottom thanks to heat-proof plastic on each end, and the percolater’s spout has a drip-free design for accurate pouring without the mess.

Once the FCP412 finished brewing, it automatically switches over to a keep warm mode, so your coffee won’t get cold if you leave the carafe sitting around for a bit. This feature also helps the percolator to avoid over-extracting the coffee by brewing for too long.

When you’re ready to serve coffee with the FCP412, you can remove the cord and move it around freely. The heat-blocking layer on the bottom lets you sit it down anywhere without worrying about burning the surface.

During cleanup, all of the components inside can be placed in a dishwasher if you don’t feel like doing it by hand. And that includes the filter assembly.

If you’re looking for classic styling and modern convenience, the Farberware FCP412 is an ideal combination of both. It’s easy to brew with, makes coffee incredibly quickly, and provides more functionality than the average electric model. This is a great buy on every level.


Why Use a Coffee Percolator?

Given the improvements in brewing technology, and the rise of alternative brewing methods, some may wonder why there would be any need to still use a coffee percolator.

The truth is that coffee percolators remain a great way to brew coffee — when done correctly.

Here are just a few reasons as to why someone would use a percolator.

  • Strength

    Percolators are known for producing incredibly strong coffee. Ask most people who know what percolators are, and if they’ve had experience with a percolator at some point, they’ll probably tell you how strong the coffee was.

    This is certainly a true sentiment. Coffee percolators produce strong coffee with bold flavors due to their brewing process. After all, They do recirculate brewed coffee back through the coffee grounds a few times, which means they’re essentially brewing coffee with more coffee at that point.

    As you can imagine, this process can create some very bold coffee. That’s part of the allure in the first place. If you like strong coffee, a percolator can definitely help you out in that area.

  • Control

    With most coffee brewing methods, you typically grind up some coffee, and then flip a switch or pour some water, let it do its thing, and then you’re all done.

    With coffee percolators, you have more control over the process. This can be a bit intimidating at first if you’re used to more automated methods, but once you master a percolator, you can easily create brew that is exactly how you’d like it, while getting that classic percolator flavor.

    Once the brewing process starts, it’s up to you when to end it. This lets you have control over how long it brews, and of course you can choose the grind you’d like as well, which can grant you further control over the coffee’s flavor profile.

  • Aroma

    There’s really nothing better than the smell of brewed coffee. In the morning, in the daytime, in the evening — it always smells great. This is true no matter how you brew it.

    However, with percolators you can create a vastly stronger aroma than other methods. The brewing process is a bit more intense, and the constant recirculation of the coffee, combined with the heat and placement of the grounds at the top results in an intense aroma that can fill your home with the glorious smell of fresh coffee in an instant.

  • Simplicity

    Coffee percolators are simple, and it really doesn’t matter which type you use. Electric versions, stovetops — they’re all simple in operation. Stovetop percolators are quite primitive in some ways, which is why they’re also popular with campers, since all you need is an open heat source and a flat surface to use one.

  • Nostalgia

    For many, the mere sight of a percolator immediately makes them think of old 1950s television shows, their old church fellowship hall, or maybe their grandparents house when they were growing up.

    It’s true — percolators are from a bygone era. That’s actually part of the allure for some, and that’s totally fine. They’re old, they have a unique look, and they still work just as well as they did for your grandma Shirley back in the day.

  • Versatile

    Traditional percolators only require a heat source at the bottom, which means you can use them on a stove, on a range burner, on a skillet, or a campfire. Wherever there’s heat, there’s a way.

    If you have a stovetop percolator, and you don’t mind getting it a little grubby, you can bring it along on your hike or camping trip, and then bring it right back to your kitchen when you return. You can’t really say the same about a drip brewer.

What to Look for When Buying a Coffee Percolator

how to choose a coffee percolatorPercolators are simple brewers, but there are some aspects you should consider before buying. This will ensure that you end up with the right percolator for your needs.

  • This is the first criteria you should think about. Are you okay with using the stovetop method where you are in charge of heating the water and overseeing the brewing process, or would you rather have an electric percolator do it for you?

    For some, having a role in the brewing process is what makes percolators so great to use in the first place. You get to select your own water temperature and duration of brewing.

    While this can lead to great results with some practice, it can take some time to master. The payoff is well worth it though.

    However, that doesn’t mean electric percolators can’t make a great batch of coffee as well. These percolators are programmed to know exactly what temperature the water needs to be, and for how long. This enables consistency, and an easier experience for the user.

  • Brew size should be your next specification to consider. Many users can get by with a smaller 6-cup size, but if you have a lot of people in your household, or use the percolator to make coffee for guests, a larger size may be better, such as an 8-cup or 12-cup model. This avoids the need to brew multiple batches.
  • One of the best parts about percolators is that they all tend to have a cool vintage look, and it really doesn’t matter which type you go with.

    With that said, there are some models that are a little flashier than others, and there are some that take a more understated approach. It’s all a matter of preference, but if you love the vintage look, you’ll have more selection with stovetop models.

  • This mostly pertains to electric percolators. Added features such as removable power cords, lights that come on when the coffee is done brewing, and auto warming features can all help improve the user experience, and ensure consistently brewed batches each time.

What’s the Best Coffee for a Percolator?

This is a question many people wonder about with percolators.

The truth is that any coffee can be used with a percolator, but you need to keep in mind that percolating does tend to make the coffee bolder, and sometimes a little more acidic as well.

So, if you like coffee that’s bold, but not too bold, consider using lighter roasts with your percolator, as the final result often creates a taste that a little darker then the coffee beans you used. This also means it’s best to avoid overly dark roasts, such as espresso, Italian, and French roasts.

If you don’t like hints of pronounced acidity in your coffee, lighter roots are usually best, especially if they are sourced from African or Arabian growing regions. Latin coffees tend to be a little more acidic.


How Are Percolators Different from Drip Brewers?

Both brewing methods rely on the same concept of passing hot water over coffee grounds to brew the coffee, but how the water gets there, and where it goes afterwards are the main differences to note.

drip brewerWith a drip brewer, the coffee is heated, and then falls onto the grounds that are contained in some type of filter, usually either paper or metal. The resulting brewed coffee then falls into a mug, carafe, or pot.

With percolators, the same water that’s being used to brew the coffee eventually becomes the coffee itself, and continues to go through the brewing process a few more times. This means you’re using coffee to brew more coffee, so it results in a bolder taste with more complexity.

Coffee Percolator vs. Drip Brewing

The drip brewer is what initially led to the decrease in popularity over the percolator. Are the two really that different?

Well, yes and no. There are some similarities between the too, but the brewing methods ultimately result in different flavor profiles.

  • Drip BrewingWhen using a drip brewer, water is heated up to a point a little below boiling, and then makes its way to the coffee grounds that are inside of a filter. The water disperses over the grounds, through the filter, and into the pot or cup below.The filter itself can be paper or metal. Using a metal filter lets the coffee retain its oils, which would otherwise get caught in a paper filter. This gives the coffee a bit more complexity and mouthfeel.

    Overall, drip brewed coffee has a light, smooth taste, and a moderate flavor profile that depends on the beans and type of grounds used.

    • PercolatorsPercolators also heat water and distribute it over the top of the grounds before the resulting coffee makes its way down. The key difference is that the water will recirculate a few more times after it’s been brewed, creating a bolder flavor with a heavier mouthfeel.The lack of a paper filter allows the percolator to retain the coffee’s oils somewhat, although the brewing process may eliminate some.

    The Key Difference

    Drip brewers pass the water through the grounds just once, and usually have a paper filter involved. The resulting batch has a light feel with a moderate amount of aroma, flavor, and smoothness.

    Percolators recirculate the brewed coffee and water several times, creating a heavier coffee with a stronger flavor, along with a higher caffeine content.

    Coffee Percolator vs. French Press

    Coffee percolators and french presses have some distinct differences in the way they’re used, and create two very different cups of coffee.

    • French PressesThe french press is a very simple form of brewing that doesn’t need to involve any electrical power, or be put onto a heat source. All of the brewing takes places within a carafe, which uses a plunger filter mechanism to keep the coffee grounds away from the coffee after brewing.Here’s how it works: Coffee beans are ground to a very coarse consistency — much coarser than you’d see with a percolator or drip brewer method. From there, the coffee grounds are placed into the bottom of the carafe, which is then filled with very hot water (but not boiling.)

      The hot water and coffee grounds then sit in the carafe for about 4 minutes openly, facilitating the brewing process. After the time is up, a lid that includes a plunger is placed over the top of the carafe, and then the plunger is pushed down into the carafe.

      This plunger ensures all the ground coffee is pushed to the bottom, flattening the grounds to the bottom and keeping them separate from the brewed coffee. The coffee is then poured from the carafe into a cup or mug.

    • PercolatorsWhen brewing with a coffee percolator, the coffee grounds are kept separate from the water and coffee during brewing. The grounds sit on the perforated metal filter platform as the water passes over them to create the brewed coffee that falls into the carafe below.

    The Key Difference

    Percolators disperse water over the grounds to brew, using gravity to pull the water down over the grounds and through the built-in filter. With french presses, the coffee grounds and water are joined together and allowed to sit and brew until the time is up.

    By allowing the coffee grounds to sit and brew in the water, french presses create a complex and dense cup of coffee, and sometimes have a small amount of sediment remaining when you drink it, although it’s not usually that noticeable until you get to the end of the cup.

    At the end of the day, french presses and percolators have a more similar taste and feel than percolators do with drip brewers.

    How to Use a Coffee Percolator ( + Some Brewing Tips)

    Using a coffee percolator is a rather simple process, but it does take some mastering in order to get things right. Many people complain about the taste of percolated coffee when they first have it, but it’s only because they messed the brewing process up somehow.

    Brewing with a coffee percolator is delicate, and requires a keen sense of timing. There will likely be some trial & error at first, but once you get it right, you’ll be able to fully appreciate the brew these coffee makers are easily capable of producing.

    Here’s how to get started:

    1. Begin by opening the percolator and then adding water to the bottom carafe portion, and make sure the water level has some space below the brew basket. Be sure to use around 6-8 ounces of water for each serving of grounds (about 1.5 tablespoons with a percolator.)

    2. Speaking of the grounds, you will want to use a coarser grind, fairly similar to what you’d see with a french press. Using a finer grind will result in coffee grounds in your coffee, as they can seep through the filter.

    3. Now add the tube and chamber assembly to your percolator, and then add your grounds to the brew basket, spreading them evenly.

    4. Now it’s time to heat the water. If you have a stovetop model, set the range to a high setting to start, and then take it down to a medium so you don’t boil the water too much. If you have an electric model, simply turn it on.

    5. Allow the coffee to percolate (bubbling) for around 3 minutes, until the bubbling ceases. Take the heat down to low if you’re using a stovetop. Electric models usually turn off on their own.

    6. Let the coffee cool down for a minute or two, and then you’re all set!

    Additional Tips for Brewing with a Coffee Percolator

    The ideal water temperature should be about 200 degrees Fahrenheit (95 degrees Celsius.) To determine if your water is at the right temperature, there should be one bubble every three to five seconds. Anything more is too hot, anything less is too cool. This is really where people mess up when overbrewing their coffee, so make sure you’re watching this closely.

    If you have an electric percolator, be careful with the “keep warm” feature. This can continue the brewing process even after you’re done, so it may be best to turn the percolator off for a few minutes, and then turn the warm function on when it’s cooled a bit, so as to avoid prolonging the brewing process.

    Final Thoughts

    Coffee percolators predate nearly every modern brewing method of today, and are slowly regaining their past popularity as more coffee drinkers discover the bold and rich coffees they are capable of brewing.

    We hope our guidance will help you choose a percolator that fits your needs, and provides you with a great cup of coffee from here on out. By following our advice, and sticking with the picks from our list, you’ll be sure to purchase a percolator you’ll use and cherish for years to come.