Coffee In a Percolator: Slow Down and Enjoy

Good morning gentlemen.  Rarely does a day go by in which I fail to drink at least one cup of coffee, and I would be willing to bet that many of you would say the same.  Coffee has become quite the industry with fancy coffee shops and equally fancy coffee machines for the home.  This fanciness often leaves us guys feeling left out, emasculated even.  The fact that I have to wait in a line while people order drinks that include words like low fat, whipped cream, latte, and anything ending in ccino upsets me (Drew has been known to make his wife lean over from the passenger seat at the Starbucks drive through to order her drink).  The fact that I have to take out a small loan to buy a cup that is the Starbuckian language equivalent to a large (I refuse to use their terms opting for small, medium and large instead) frustrates me even further.  Oh and they are not tricking me into thinking that what I am doing is cool by adding that  eighty-dollar Wilco or Ray Charles CD at the counter.  That almost became a rant, anyways, there are at least two things that are certain in the world of coffee, one is that people want it and the other is that people want it quickly and so how we make and buy our coffee has changed with those demands. While there is nothing categorically wrong with growth and technology in any field, I am advocating for the renewal of something old, coffee in a percolator.

Many of you probably do not even know what a percolator is, your most ancient of coffee devices being a drip machine, which you traded in long ago for something chrome or something that makes coffee in a single cup.  So let’s have a look.

I first discovered percolators while living in Haiti.  Haiti does not have Starbucks (gasp) , though street vendors will sell coffee out of large pots over an open fire.  My wife and I often found ourselves in a situation in which there was either not enough electricity for a drip coffee maker or that it would not be wise to use such energy to do so, not to mention the fact that it can be hard to locate coffee filters in rural Haiti.  The solution to our problem came in the form of a percolator and a gas stove.  When we moved back to America my grandmother heard us talking about coffee in a percolator, she went home and pulled this well used pot out of 1973 her garage.  It now belongs to me and it is where the majority of my coffee is brewed.

This is my percolator, with a sweet dent in it, posing with my bag of coffee. See how I turned the camera sideways? I am pretty much an artist, now where are my black rimmed glasses…

It is pretty simple really.  Place the scoops of coffee in the basket, fill the pot with the desired amount of water and let it boil on the stove.  It will be obvious when the water is boiling over because you will be able to see it in the clear plastic piece on the top of the pot. You can tinker with the amount of time that you let it boil (I usually let it boil for ten minutes or so) based on how strong you want your coffee.  Also, for those of you wondering what goes on during those magical ten minutes inside the pot, I found a diagram that explains it all.  Here is how it works.

So as you see from the picture, as the water is heated it boils up through the stem to the top of the pot and then falls down over the basket holding the grounds.  After a few minutes the result is well brewed, delicious coffee.  For even better results try roasting and grinding your own raw coffee beans (I will leave that for another post).  I have been known to brew a full pot on Monday, only to reheat it every morning or whenever I require another cup the following days and it is still delicious.

Yes it takes longer than a drip coffee maker or a Keurig, but it makes superb coffee.  Yes it means you might have to wake up a few minutes earlier than normal but it also means that you do not have to navigate through a line of soccer moms and offer your car as collateral for your morning brew. Give it a shot at home or even on the campsite (percolators are awesome for campfire coffee).  Scour garage sales a thrift stores and find a percolator.  If you do not find one in those locations try your local sporting goods store in the camping section.  Technology is great, but some things are worth holding on to.  Not everything that is quicker is better.  Coffee in a percolator is just one of many things that is well worth the wait.

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Categories: Slainte Mhath

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9 Comments on “Coffee In a Percolator: Slow Down and Enjoy”

  1. Anthony
    May 3, 2012 at 6:06 am #

    Filthy, Curt. The thing about percolators that cannot be tolerated is that it runs coffee back through the grounds again and again. Preeeetty nasty when that happens.

  2. Taylor
    May 3, 2012 at 8:03 am #

    Stupid Starbucks

  3. May 3, 2012 at 5:16 pm #

    Jones I disagree, when coffee goes back through the grounds the result is stronger coffee. You should write a post telling me why your way is better.

    Taylor, I should probably admit that I actually like Starbucks coffee, I just hate going there.

  4. Sean Schmitt
    May 5, 2012 at 9:13 pm #

    Two words: over extraction. By sending the same water through the grounds over and over, the bitter compounds in the coffee are leeched out. Drip coffee does the same but to a lesser degree. If you like a very bitter brew, then a percolator is fine. It’s simply a matter of preference.

    • curtisrrogers
      May 5, 2012 at 11:11 pm #

      That makes sense because it is definitely has a more bitter taste, which I enjoy. I had always just chalked it up to a stronger coffee Thanks for the insight.


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