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Feb 16, 2009 08:11 AM

Best Coffee for a Percolator?

I just purchased a lovely stainless steel Cusinart Coffee Percolator as a gift to MOI:)

My question: in your opinion, what is the BEST coffee to use for this unit?
Regular, Beans? I did hear the Illy sells coffee for regular drip coffee makers:)

I have tried several different brands
(coffee maker doesn't like fine grind however)

The reason I bought it was I remember my Grandmother using one
the smell, aroma was so intense and inviting
And she would let me have a sip or two

I want flavour, full body A REAL hot cup of coffee
This is why I bought it
Thought that GREAT coffee would be better when the water is super hot.........?

Any recommendations , do tell:)

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  1. I hope some percolator coffee lovers reply to this post. I, too, have switched to percolated coffee in search of that hot, aromatic morning deliciousness. But I haven't gotten the coffee perfect yet. The intense, dark roast coffee I love with a drip filter isn't used to its advantage percolated, I think, and a more acidic blend might be the ticket. The best marriage so far has been a can of French Market blend from the supermarket.

    1. Is the Cusinart an electric percolator? If so, my note below is useless to you.

      We've used a Farberware stove top percolator for perhaps 20 years. Our preferred coffee was Maxwell House Columbian blend until the price went into the stratosphere. We're using Regular Grind Kroger Columbian blend now. No significant fall off in flavor.

      We bring the water to perc status on the "HI" setting on the burner. Once there, we turn the heat down to seven and let the pot do it's thing for 8/9 minutes. Flavorful, strong coffee every time.

      Good luck with your experimentation.

      1 Reply
      1. re: RedTop

        In glad to hear some people enjoy perked coffee because I'm an espresso \latte drinker but I just inherited a beautiful electric percolator from my aunt. I'm going to try some of the methods described here, though sounds like it'll be tricky because it's electric and old.

      2. My recommendation is that you return the percolator and get a vacuum pot. Same basic idea, same retro-cool functionality, MUCH better execution. And if you go with a Yama, the price is right, too. See picture below.

        I'll preface this with the standard "taste is subjective" disclaimer. If you like percolated coffee, good for you. But there are objective standards for making and cupping coffee. ( ) And it's physically impossible for a percolator to deliver an objectively ideal cup of coffee. There are two reasons for this.

        First, according to the SCAA, the acceptable brewing temperature range is 92-96C. While you're right in intuiting that most drip coffeemakers don't get hot enough, a percolator gets too hot: it works by boiling the coffee. (Okay, if you live at an altitude of 5,000-7,500 feet, your water temperature will actually be okay, but that doesn't address the next point.) Water that's too hot will overextract the grounds, leading to bitter coffee.

        Second, brewed coffee is delicate stuff. Leaving it exposed to heat will destroy its flavor in no time. And a percolator takes already-brewed coffee, boils it, and shoots it over the grounds. Over and over again. At best the coffee will lack flavor; at worst it will taste scorched.

        If you choose to stick with the percolator, buy whole beans (preferably fresh-roasted) and grind them very coarse just before brewing. Since you're talking about full body, I'd recommend something from Sumatra, roasted to Full City+ (at that roast stage, the beans will have begun to look slightly oily.) Be sure to use plenty of coffee - for a liter of water, you want two ounces of grounds. And get the coffee off the heat as soon as possible once it's done.

        Again, a percolator will never make a great cup of coffee (as defined by those who claim to know about these things). And it's pretty hard to make a bad cup of coffee in a vacuum brewer. Regardless of which way you go, though, I hope you find the cup you're looking for.

        3 Replies
        1. re: alanbarnes

          I'm with Alan. I had to do a paper on coffee makers in college. Perked produced the worst coffee. The problem is that a percolator boils the coffee. If you like bitter boiiled coffee then stick with it. I think a French Press produces some of the best coffee.

          1. re: alanbarnes

            Wow, what a thoughtful response, alan.

            I've been drinking percolated coffee since I was 15, and never had a home-brewed pot come out bitter. Emphasis on home-brewed.

            1. re: RedTop

              "Percolated" is to coffee as "well-done" is to a steak. Different strokes..........

          2. When we used a percolater, we always bought A&P coffee and ground it at the store. I know that this is not ideal for the true coffee snob, but we were in a beach house at the time and didn't have our own grinder there. The coffee was always great -- hot as the blazes and full of old-fashioned taste. We tried different blends, and sometimes we mixed them.

            3 Replies
            1. re: roxlet

              Everything tastes better at the beach. :-) I only like perked coffee when I'm camping. The test of the time, vacuum, French press or a Technivorm drip is the way to go, IMO. Coffee tastes vary widely, though, as do price tolerances.

              1. re: mcf

                Re: "vacuum, French press or a Technivorm drip is the way to go"

                All good methods, but the old-fashioned drip coffeemaker (a kettle and a cone) and the new-fangled Aeropress should also be in the mix.

                1. re: alanbarnes

                  The Aeropress looks very interesting, but I haven't tried it, so can't recommend yet.
                  I do like the old fashioned cones for a quick travel mug full, so should have included it.

            2. I love my perculator. I bought Presto twice, Hamilton Beach once. HOT coffee and you do smell that coffee armoma again just like when grandma made it. I switched back to perked coffee about 5 years ago and haven't regretted it. I've been using Peet's whole beans Major Dickason,I do have a coffee grinder, but I've used already ground also from Peets. There is nothing like perked coffee. My coffee is super hot and even my husband who isn't really a coffee drinler. never enjoyed coffee so much since I switched. Your mother -in -law will love you for it. I plan to experiment with other brands to see if perked improves flavor of the old brands. I'll let you know when I do that.

              2 Replies
              1. re: ilvsurfin

                Thanks for reviving this thread. As much as I like dark roasts, they don't seem the best for the percolator. I'm favoring Ethiopian. And the NYC blend from Oren's.

                1. re: ilvsurfin

                  I will second a vote for Major Dickason coffee. We often use it, grinding our beans. But I can't comment on the percolator method except in my memory banks "reminds me of home..." the coffee percolating on Mom's stove. Our current "Mr. Coffee" maker is fine, and I've posted our adventures with that on another thread.