How Long to Percolate Coffee?

Vintage is back in vogue, and thats not only true for mid-century furniture or cute outfits. Brewing coffee in a percolator has made a comeback too. While seemingly overcomplicated, the process is pretty straightforward, though it takes a bit more effort than pressing a button on an automatic espresso maker. Today well walk you through the technique and answer common questions, like How long do you let coffee percolate? and Whats the best temperature?

What Is a Coffee Percolator?

Its a clever device thats somewhere halfway between a kettle and a Moka pot. The inside is divided into two chambers with a perforated metal filter, and the two parts are connected with a tube. Once the water is hot enough, it travels up the tube to mix with the ground beans in the top chamber. The cooled water then pours back down. The process repeats until you remove the heat source. Thats why the question of How long should coffee percolate? is critical when it comes to the flavor of the brew.

How Long to Percolate

Types of Coffee Percolation

The stovetop percolator came first, back in the 19th century, and electricity made it even better. Even now, both stovetop and electric percolators are equally popular, as each comes with a unique set of advantages. The former are cheap, sturdy, and durable, but they require more effort on your part. The latter are more expensive, but they take the guesswork out of heating the water. Besides, you dont have to wonder how long to perk coffee, as the electric percolator will turn off automatically after a set time.

Timer as a Regulator - The Perfect Brewing Time

How long do you let coffee percolate if you go with a stovetop model? Theres no right answer, but the ten-minute mark is considered to be the top margin. Anything above will produce bitter muddy swill. We recommend you start by setting the timer for five minutes first. If the brew is too weak for your taste, add another minute or two to the percolation time. You should be able to find your sweet spot after a few tries.

The Effects of Pre-Infusion and Percolation

Pre-infusion often makes for a better-tasting espresso, as it lets the water pass through the coffee puck evenly without over- or under-extraction. Percolator is very different from an espresso machine, as it continuously mixes hot water with the grounds, so theres little need for pre-infusion. Instead, you have to be on the lookout for over-infusion, as the same water goes through the beans multiple times. As long as you keep water temperature under boiling (195-200 F), how long percolate coffee stays on the heat is less critical (as long as its still under 10 minutes).

Types of Coffee Percolation

Advantages of Using a Percolator

For one, it lets you get hands-on experience of brewing a cuppa. Once you know the answers to How long should coffee perk? and How much grounds do I use? it can become a meditative morning ritual. Besides, a stovetop percolator is among the most environmentally friendly ways to brew coffee, as there are no filters or pods. Finally, its a great way to treat yourself to a cuppa on a camping or hiking trip. All you need is a percolator and a fire to get a pot of java to keep you warm.

Advantages of Using a Percolator


Once you get to know it, the percolator is far less intimidating. All you need to succeed is filtered water, freshly ground coarse coffee, a timer, and some patience to get the water temperature just right. A few tries in, you wont need to ask yourself, How long do you perk coffee? or set a timer; the looks and smell will be your guide.

A final word of advice: get the filter out of the percolator once its done brewing and let the coffee sit for a couple of minutes. The fine particles will settle down, and youll enjoy a rich and powerful brew without that muddy feeling percolator coffee sometimes gets.

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Renat Mamatazin

Renat Mamatkazin


Founder and owner of Lion Coffee and 3ChampsRoastery, 1st place winner of Ukrainian Barista Championship 2017. Interested in travelling, football and Formula-1 (besides coffee, of course).