Which coffee percolator is best?
The robust flavors and rich texture of percolator coffee is hard to mimic with other brewing methods. These vintage tools are largely similar to their original counterparts from the early 1800s and are ideal for bold coffee lovers and coffee connoisseurs.
If you’re looking for an all-around quality percolator that can brew enough for avid coffee drinkers, the Black and Decker Farberware 12-Cup Percolator is the top choice.
What to know before you buy a coffee percolator
Though they’re not as popular as they were before the automatic drip coffee machine hit the market, coffee percolators can brew a cup as strong as ever. They extract the flavors and oils by releasing steam and water through a central valve before the brewed coffee percolates back into the carafe.
Percolators are either manual or electric. Manual ones require more supervision since there is no element regulating the temperature or time. However, they are typically lighter weight and easy to brew with while traveling.
Electric percolators offer more control over the brew temperature, which coffee aficionados may appreciate. They also offer convenience and peace of mind for busy households who may not want to watch a manual pot while it brews. Since electric percolators need a power source to work, they’re not ideal to take along on camping trips.
Most percolators brew between 2 and 8 cups of coffee. Larger ones can brew up to 12 cups. One major difference between percolators and automatic drip coffee machines is that percolators measure coffee in 5-ounce cups rather than regular 1-cup units. Keep that in mind as you plan out which percolator is best for your household’s coffee habits.
Most percolator pots are made of stainless steel, aluminum or enameled steel. Stainless steel offers longer life and prevents stains. Aluminum percolators are lightweight and easy to handle. Enameled steel comes in more design options, though it is prone to mineral buildup and scorching.
They may also use glass, chrome, resin or plastic in their base parts, handles and lid caps. Regardless of materials, the base of the percolator should be wide enough to fit the heat source, and the handle should be comfortable to hold, even when the coffee is hot.
Since the water and grounds are both housed inside the carafe, it can get messy during the brewing process. You should clean the percolator and parts after brewing a pot to prevent stains and buildup.
Some old-fashioned percolators have permanent central drawing tubes or baskets. This makes it difficult to clean around those parts. Look for percolators that are easy to take apart, including those with a removable central drawing tube. If easy cleanup is a priority, ensure all the parts are dishwasher-safe.
What to look for in a quality coffee percolator
The best cup of coffee is not too bitter, not too acidic and not too weak. A high-quality percolator helps control the brewing process to produce a rich and complex flavor.
Percolators operate a bit differently than other brewing methods. Because of this, their filtration needs are unique to each model. Some percolators require paper filters, while others don’t need any filters.
With many newer models, if your beans are ground course enough and the basket has small enough holes, you won’t need a paper filter to hold the grounds in place. This saves you time and money on paper filters that can be a messy part of your cleanup process. To be certain, check the manufacturer’s instructions to confirm before you brew.
Many electric percolators offer additional settings and features you won’t find on manual ones. A thermostat, automatic timer and warming plate can help you regulate the brewing process. These settings are also convenient if you’re used to an automatic drip coffee machine that you can set and walk away.
Some electric percolators also have a removable cord so you can easily pick up and move the carafe to pour fresh coffee at your convenience.
If your percolator has a warming plate, be mindful of how long you let it stay on, as that can overheat the coffee and make it taste even darker than it already is.
Brewing with percolators is an acquired skill to master. However, using manual percolators can be a bit more nuanced. Some scorching may occur with a manual percolator. High-quality ones are stain- and scorch-resistant and should be easy to clean with a mild abrasive.
How much you can expect to spend on a coffee percolator
You can expect to spend between $20-$80 on a percolator, depending on the materials and whether it’s manual or electric.
Coffee percolator FAQ
How much coffee can a coffee percolator brew?
A. That depends on the capacity of the pot. Most percolators can brew between 2 and 8 cups of coffee, while larger ones can brew up to 12 cups. Remember that percolators measure coffee in 5-ounce cups rather than regular 1-cup units.
How often do I need to clean my coffee percolator?
A. You should clean your percolator after each use. Since all the brewing equipment is inside the pot where the percolation happens, it can get pretty messy inside. Thoroughly clean it after you brew a pot to prevent stains and buildup. Dumping the grounds is easier with some percolators that don’t require paper filters. Look for percolators that are easy to take apart, including those with a removable central drawing tube. For an easy cleanup, make sure all the parts can go in the dishwasher.
What’s the best coffee percolator to buy?
Top coffee percolator
Black and Decker Farberware 12-Cup Percolator
What you need to know: This is a high-capacity coffee percolator with a few extra features that help brew a bold cup.
What you’ll love: This electric coffee maker can brew between 2 and 12 cups of coffee. It makes a strong and bold cup of coffee for those interested in deeper flavors. The warming plate keeps coffee at 195 degrees.
What you should consider: You need to either modify or brew without modern paper filters.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top coffee percolator for the money
Farberware Classic Yosemite Stainless Steel Coffee Percolator
What you need to know: This vintage percolator brews a classic cup of coffee at home or on the road.
What you’ll love: The percolator works on all heat sources: electric, natural gas, propane or over a campfire. The stainless steel construction is durable and appealing. There’s no need for paper filters with this filter basket design. All parts are dishwasher-safe. You can choose between an 8-cup or 12-cup capacity.
What you should consider: An 8-cup pot may be too small for some coffee drinkers. A manual percolator requires practice to produce a consistent cup.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Wayfair
Worth checking out
GSI 15155 Blue 12-Cup Percolator
What you need to know: Sturdy construction and a farmhouse finish make this a great choice for brewing coffee in the great outdoors.
What you’ll love: Heavy-gauge enameled steel lends a cozy aesthetic to the pot. The wide base provides a stable foundation for brewing over a fire, propane, natural gas or electric heating element. A clear resin cap lets you monitor your brewing from above. Three-ply construction helps distribute heat evenly. It is dishwasher-safe and comes in five colors. You can choose between an 8-cup or 12-cup capacity.
What you should consider: Brewing coffee with a manual percolator has a steep learning curve and may require some practice to get the ratios right. Some customers complained about the materials, but the majority of users had positive feedback.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.
Katy Palmer writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
Copyright 2022 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.