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Techniques - Written by Miles Spencer

How to use a coffee percolator

A coffee percolator is a type of kettle with two separate chambers – one for water and another for ground coffee beans. Percolator coffee is often associated with campfires and stovetops. Nowadays, there are also electric versions you can use.

The lower chamber of a percolator is used for water whilst the upper part features a basket for coffee grounds. When the water heats up, it travels up a vertical tube that runs over the grounds. Water that now has coffee flavour then drips back to the bottom of the pot. Percolator coffee is brewed several times, with the flavoured water travelling up through the coffee grounds and dripping back down more than once.

Before using the percolator, clean it to remove any coffee grounds left behind from the last time it was used. Once clean, add water following the model’s instructions to the maximum level. Generally, two cups of water are used to make one mug of coffee. The next step is to add the ground coffee to the upper portion. One tablespoon is generally used for one cup of strong coffee. Use less grounds if you want a weaker brew.

Once loaded, reassemble the percolator and put the lid in place. Put the coffee percolator on your stovetop. Heat it on medium heat, although you should reduce the heat if the water starts boiling or simmering. If there is steam coming out, your percolator is too hot. If you are using an electric percolator, simply plug it in and follow the directions for your unit.

You should percolate the coffee for about seven to ten minutes. Once ready, remove it from the heat and take out the grounds basket using oven mitts. Let the coffee sit for a few minutes to let any grounds settle.

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