5 Best Stovetop Percolator Coffee Options

Are you searching for the best stovetop percolator coffee? This article offers suggestions for those looking to take their percolator coffee to the next level.

Stovetop percolator coffee
Stovetop percolators present a few specific needs compared to other coffee makers

There’s something magical and nostalgic about stovetop percolators, even if your parents or grandparents never owned one. They call up a bygone era where making coffee was more of a production than it is now.

For those looking to capture the magic, stovetop percolators give a more updated option. But once you have your percolator, how do you choose the best coffee to go with it?

Stovetop percolators present a few specific needs compared to other coffee makers. Read on to find out what you should be looking for and my favorite picks for the old-fashioned stovetop brewing method that’s making a comeback.

Stovetop Percolators: Old School Turned New School Brewing

Percolators were one of the earliest machines for brewing coffee, with the first patent for a modern percolator going to Hanson Goodrich in 1889. Of course, that machine is a pretty far cry from the kind of stovetop percolator available on the market today, but the basic premise is the same.

The newer models incorporate lighter, stronger materials like stainless steel and various kinds of rubber gaskets, and they’re easier on the eyes, but the action is the same. As a result, some commonalities appear in the best coffee for stovetop percolators both in the past and now. There are some things to know about choosing coffee for your stovetop machine versus a countertop model.

What Grind Is Best For Percolator Coffee?

The right consistency in your coffee grounds is essential for brewing quality coffee, whether with a stovetop percolator or an electric percolator. A coarse grind is the best for this brewing process.

Percolator coffee is a slow coffee brewing method. As the coffee grounds sit in a filter basket, the water beneath it is exposed to heat. Whether you’re using a stovetop coffee percolator or an electric model, the water bubbles due to the heat and infuses with the coffee grounds, leaving behind a delicious serving of Joe.

Coarse ground coffee bean from a coffee grinder
A coarse grind is the best for this brewing process

It entails cycling the water through the grounds several times. The coffee-infused water slowly drips into the bottom of the chamber until it has all been brewed.

If the grinds were too fine, the drink would be over-extracted. Over-extracted coffee tastes bitter.

Freshly ground coffee is always best when using a percolator coffee pot. This is because ground coffee has already begun the oxidation process, negatively impacting the flavor. So, it’s always advised to grab your grinder right before brewing.

If you have to stick with pre-ground coffee, always choose coarse coffee grounds for this method.

What Is The Top Percolator Brewer?

The best percolator for you depends on your preferences. Some people like a glass percolator so they can watch the brewing process; other coffee lovers will prefer a dishwasher-safe stainless steel percolator for its durability; you might also like a heat-resistant material to protect your hands.

You also need to factor in the cup capacity if you want to brew for just yourself or your whole family.

An electric coffee percolator comes with its own heat source but must be plugged into an electrical outlet. So, it is not an ideal camping coffee pot unless you find a battery-powered one. Meanwhile, a standard percolator is perfect for those who want to brew coffee on their stovetop.

The top percolator brands include:

  • Cuisinart
  • Presto
  • Farberware
  • Yosemite

These brands can be found in homeware stores and on Amazon.

Do Percolator Kettles Make Espresso?

You might have seen percolator coffee makers and Moka pots referred to as stovetop espresso makers or stovetop coffee makers. These coffee makers are not the exact same, but you may see people use the names interchangeably as the brewing method is similar. Although these coffee makers can make espresso-like beverages, it is not the same as the espresso shots you would be served in a coffee shop.

Generally, people use Moka pots or an AeroPress for small, single-serve espresso-like brews. A percolator, drip coffee maker, pour-over brewer, or French press are usually used for several bigger servings of coffee – but many coffee lovers like to experiment.

A coffee machine a professional barista would use entails quickly shooting water through a puck of coffee. The pressure, heat, and fine grind size are what contribute to that café-quality espresso.

Since Moka pots use fine to medium-fine coffee grounds, and percolators use coarse coffee, the result is still delicious, but it is not an authentic espresso. Don’t let that stop you from experimenting at home. Check out our round-up of espresso with cold milk drinks.

Coffee For Your Stovetop Percolator: What To Look For

In general, you want to avoid dark roast coffee beans for percolators because the process of percolating coffee tends to continue cooking it somewhat–so you’re more likely to get bitter flavors with darker roasts. You also want to avoid the lightest roasts with a stovetop percolator because the process doesn’t do them justice; instead, they end up watery and weak-tasting.

The region tends to come into play a little more with stovetop percolators compared to countertop models. Since you’re applying heat a little more directly, you want coffee beans that can stand up to the extraction–and that largely means Latin American beans, with a few exceptions.

How To Make Percolator Coffee

Step 1: Grind The Beans

As mentioned earlier, coarse coffee is the best for a percolator. So, grab your coffee grinder and get grinding.

If you have pre-ground coffee, you can skip this step. The ideal ratio is one part coffee to two parts water, but you can experiment with this depending on how strong you like your coffee.

Step 2: Add The Coffee And Water

Take apart the percolator and add the correct amount of water to the reservoir. Each coffee maker will have different maximum water levels, so it’s best to familiarize yourself with this first.

Then add coffee to the upper chamber. Although paper filters aren’t a requirement, many home brewers use them to make cleaning up easier and to ensure no grinds escape into the java. Reassemble your percolator, and ensure everything is secure.

Step 3: Turn On The Heat

Preparing a traditional italian style coffee with coffee percolator. Making a coffe.
Use a stovetop percolator, and put it on the stove over medium heat

Next, it’s time to turn on the heat. If you’re using a stovetop percolator, put it on the stove over medium heat. If you’re using an electric one, plug it into an outlet.

Reduce the heat before the hot water starts boiling. If you see steam, the heat is too high.

Allow the percolator to “perk” for up to ten minutes. If you prefer a weaker brew, you can stop the process sooner.

Not all electric percolators have an automatic shut-off function, so keep an eye on the glass lid to monitor the brewing process.

Step 4: Remove From The Heat

Once enough time has passed, remove the percolator from the heat. Then, using oven mitts, open the lid and carefully remove the basket containing the coffee grounds. Discard the coffee grounds.

Some coffee connoisseurs like to allow their coffee to rest for a few minutes. This is mostly to ensure if any coffee grounds spilled into the coffee, they have time to float down to the bottom of the brewer. Most people will serve their percolator coffee right away if they use a paper filter or a high-quality machine.

Step 5: Clean Your Percolator

Take your percolator apart and clean it. You can wash it by hand, but many models are dishwasher-safe. Any lingering coffee grounds will impact the taste of your next cup of coffee.

The Best Coffee For Stovetop Percolator Kettles

So knowing that region and roast both play a crucial role in selecting the best coffee for stovetop percolator kettles, a few brands shine. The following are my top picks based on the flavor and consistency of the finished coffee:

Copper Moon Guatemala Antigua

I make no secret that I enjoy Guatemalan coffees in general, but this single-batch roasted blend performs exceptionally well in a percolator. It’s categorized as a light roast, but it is still dark enough to get a nice flavor depth and capture notes of smoke, spice, and cocoa. Copper Moon is also socially and environmentally active, which just adds to the charm of their coffees.

Copper Moon Guatemalan Antigua Blend
$22.52 ($0.70 / Ounce)
  • Light Roast Coffee With A Nutty Finish
  • Whole Bean
  • 2 Lb
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03/06/2024 05:25 pm GMT

Volcanica Peru Tres Cumbres

The stovetop percolator brewing method is excellent at bringing out hidden nuances in coffee, and that’s a significant reason why Volcanica’s Peruvian Tres Cumbres organic beans work so well with it.

The coffee is complex, with floral notes hidden among lemon grass and plum’s soft acidity and flavors. The finished result is a smooth finish and a mild cup that is good, either black or with milk and sugar.

Tres Cumbres Whole Bean Peruvian Coffee
$19.99 ($1.25 / Ounce)
  • Whole bean
  • Fresh roasted
  • 16-ounce
  • Peruvian coffee
  • Medium roast
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03/07/2024 06:55 am GMT

Barrie House Ethiopian Yirgacheffe

This medium roast Ethiopian coffee is Fair Trade and Organic certified. While the brand isn’t one of the most well-known, they’ve been in business since the 1930s–which is a good sign that there’s a quality product.

The coffee is rich in all the flavor notes I associate with Ethiopian beans. Still, the roast is light enough that the result out of a stovetop percolator doesn’t take on any pronounced bitterness—a smooth, velvety cup of coffee out of your percolator that’s still rich and full-bodied. 

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03/07/2024 08:30 am GMT

Volcanica Sumatra Mandheling

This is perhaps the darkest of the coffees I’d recommend for stovetop percolator brewing, but Volcanica’s Sumatra Mandheling is worth trying if you want something with a more robust flavor. It can be tricky to find medium or lighter roast Sumatran coffees, but this blend hits the balance in the tendency towards Indonesian coffees to come in darker roasts. It’s still on the darker side of medium, but it’s not so roasted that the percolator process will produce burned flavors. 

Volcanica Sumatra Mandheling Coffee
$20.99 ($1.31 / Ounce)
  • Sumatra Mandheling Coffee
  • Medium Roast
  • Whole Bean
  • Fresh Roasted
  • 16-ounce
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03/07/2024 11:20 pm GMT

Kicking Horse Smart Ass

Percolators are great for bringing out the stronger notes in coffee, which is why a potent brew such as Kicking Horse’s Smart Ass blend. Although the name is bold, this is a medium roast, so it’s suitable for most tastes and this brewing method.

The flavor is highly rated and described as bright and cheeky to put a pep in your step in the morning. You can buy this coffee pre-ground, but it’s always best to go for whole-bean coffee to ensure the grind is correct for percolator coffee.

Kicking Horse coffee is organic and Fair Trade, so you can feel good about drinking it. It’s also Kosher-friendly.

Kicking Horse Coffee, Smart Ass
$10.99 ($1.10 / Ounce)
  • Smart Ass
  • Medium Roast
  • Whole Bean
  • 10 Oz
  • Certified Organic
  • Fairtrade
  • Kosher Coffee
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03/08/2024 10:15 am GMT


  • Savannah McClelland

    Savannah is a coffee lover who took her appreciation of the brew to the next level starting in college, becoming a barista before combining her love of writing with her affection for a good brew. She has written for several publications including Cracked.com and TopTenz, and also works as a ghostwriter. Find Savannah on LinkedIn.