How to Percolate Coffee

How to Percolate Coffee

3 minutes of coffee drinking

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A picture of coffee being poured from an Italian percolator.

Do you find that there just aren’t enough ways to brew your favorite beverage? Try making percolated coffee!

Percolating is actually one of the earliest ways coffee was brewed, and I’ll bet you haven’t done it! Follow this guide and perk up your friends or just yourself—the pre-Prohibition way!

Just What the Hell is Percolating, Anyway?

To percolate coffee means to brew it using a stovetop kettle called, of all things, a percolator. 

Basically, you add your ground coffee into a small filter basket at the top of the percolator. You pour some water into the percolator’s “reservoir” (which, frankly, is a pretty grandiose term—be careful not to contaminate the ground water).

The water heats up, and as this happens, gravity pulls it through a narrow tube between the two chambers. As the coffee is saturated by the hot water, it’s cycled back down into the bottom of the percolator through the perforations in the filter.

After the mixture starts boiling, the percolation ends, and you have yourself one fine cup of percolated coffee. Don’t worry, there’s a numbered list of steps below so you don’t have to deal with my sarcasm while you’re trying to percolate.

How to Make Coffee Using a Percolator

Follow these simple steps to brew coffee with a stovetop percolator. For an electric coffee percolator, you’ll need to follow the manufacturer’s instructions.


To do this, you’ll need:

  • A Percolator!
  • Coffee (duh)
  • Coffee Grinder (if you have whole coffee beans instead of pre-ground coffee)
  • A Tablespoon
  • Level heat source (Stove or Hot Plate)
  • Kettle or Saucepan
  • 1 Cup of Water per cup of coffee you want to make

Tip: Since it’s probably your first time percolating if you’re reading this guide, go with a non-dark roast like Black Insomnia’s Classic Roast to avoid making the percolated coffee too bitter.


  1. If needed, grind your coffee: Measure out roughly 2 tbsp of coffee beans and grind them down to a medium-coarse consistency.
  2. Boil water in a separate kettle, then add the boiling water to the base of your percolator.
  3. Place your ground coffee into the filter basket, making sure the grounds are evenly distributed. Put the filter back into its compartment.
  4. CAREFUL—the bottom of your percolator will be hot. Use oven mitts or a dish cloth to protect your hands as you screw the top of the percolator onto its base.
  5. Put the percolator on the stove burner and set it to medium heat.
  6. Listen for a “sputtering” sound which will indicate that the percolating has begun. Wait for the percolating sound effects to stop.

    Note: Be mindful of your water temperature on this step—If the coffee starts coming out of the top of the percolator, turn the heat down. If it’s been a long time and you haven’t heard the sputtering, turn the heat up slightly.
  7. When the sounds stop, the coffee is done percolating. Turn off the heat source and remove the percolator from heat.
  8. Discard the used coffee grounds, and serve!

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