Percolators are becoming rarer these days. They have largely been replaced en masse with automatic coffee makers or drip coffee makers that help speed up rushed mornings for hurried commuters by offering pre-programmed options.
But the percolator used to be the gold standard in coffee-making, brewing a rich, full-bodied coffee compared to drip machines.
Glass percolators for stove-top use are still somewhat popular with people who want to percolate their coffee grounds as long as possible and non-electric, opaque stove-top percolators are still extremely popular with those who enjoy camping — allowing the outdoorsy to enjoy some gourmet grinds while experiencing the beauty of nature.
While the percolator is definitely older technology, this method of brewing coffee is making a comeback and for those who want to try it out, it is important to get the method of brewing correct and that includes choosing the best coffee grind for percolators.
Many coffee enthusiasts believe that, when percolating coffee, you should use coarse-ground beans. Roasted coffee beans must first be ground before they are mixed with hot water and the fineness of the grind strongly effects brewing.
The Need for a Coarse Grind
When brewing requires that the coffee grounds are exposed to heated water for a longer period of time, as with a coffee percolator, a coarser brew is required.
Beans that are too finely ground for this method of brewing will often produce a harsh, bitter taste, but an overly coarse grind will have the opposite effect, making the coffee weak.
The fineness of the grind, be it coarse or otherwise, is of great importance and, therefore, the uniformity of the grind is also something to take into consideration — especially when grinding the beans on your own.
One of the best ways to get a coarse grind for your percolator is to look for beans that were ground using burr-grinding.
A burr mill — or burr-grinder — is a hand-held device that uses two revolving abrasive elements between which the coffee beans are torn or crushed. This method is good because there is little frictional heating, which takes away from the flavor of the beans and this process of squeezing and crushing the beans also releases the coffee’s oils making them easier to extract during infusion and creating a richer, smoother blend.
Chopping is another method that creates a course ground coffee bean ideal for drip coffee devices such as a percolator.
To achieve chopped beans, you need a blade grinder. A blade grinder represents a meat grinder but with faster rotating speeds. These devices are cheaper and faster than burr grinders but do not provide a grind that is as uniform. The coffee beans also become slightly warm by the friction involved with this method of grinding, however, this is considered quite negligible and the beans will still produce a few decent cups of coffee.
Never Forget the Water Temperature!
Once you have the perfect beans, you have the perfect cup of coffee, right?
Not so fast. There are still a few more steps to create the perfect brew with a percolator.
In order to get the bold, rich coffee that a percolator is known for water temperature is vital. Brew with water that is 195-200 degrees Fahrenheit and make sure you remove the percolator from the heat just before it stops “perking”, which happens when the water is about ready to boil.
It is best to allow the coffee to percolate for less than three minutes.
Then sit back and enjoy your hard-earned cup of Joe!
Click on the video below for a look at a comparison between burr and blade grinders