A coffee percolator is a type of stove-top brewing device that brews the coffee by continually cycling near boiling point water through the ground coffee beans until the required strength is reached by the brew. These pots were once vastly popular until the creation and later popularization of automatic drip coffee makers in the early 1970s.
Percolators, more often than not, expose the ground beans to higher temperatures than other known brewing methods, and the main problem with them is that there is a chance that already brewed coffee will be recirculated through the beans. This is a problem because it can result in something called over-extraction, a phenomenon that ends in a pleasant smelling but less flavor full cup of coffee.
Nonetheless, percolators still have a very strong fan base who praises the coffee this device is capable of brewing: a hotter, more robust one. These people also maintain that the downfalls and disadvantages the use of a percolator can entail are easily avoidable by paying attention to the brewing process and following a trial and error kind of practice. Over time, you will know your percolator and its quirks, and you will be able to take full advantage of it, or so they say.
Additionally percolators can be more versatile than drip machines. Many people take percolators camping or to environments where a flame is the main heat source.
Here are few of the more popular options these days.
How Does The Percolator Work?
The percolator works by a very unique mechanism that uses the bubbles in boiling water and gravity itself to accomplish their goal. For using this device, a fairly coarse ground bean is needed. The water is poured in the bottom chamber and the coffee beans in the upper one. Once the percolator is placed over the stove, the water will begin to heat and rise, filtering through the coffee beans and starting the brew. The bubbles (or the perking process itself, the one who gives the percolator its name) will stop once full boiling point is reached. This is the cue for the user to remove the percolator from the stove. The coffee will be ready to pour and drink.
The percolator has been around since the XIX century, but its mechanism has since improved and advanced and nowadays electric percolators exist and are readily available on the market. This is an important piece of information because the main problem with these gadgets was boiled or burnt coffee due to an overexposure to heat. With the new electric devices, the temperature and timing are controlled.
Compared to Drip Machines
On the other side of this argument, we find automatic drip coffee makers such as these popular units.
As we stated earlier, these were the main reason why the percolators lost popularity forty five years ago or so. The thing is, though coffee experts may frown upon this brewing method, there is nothing more convenient for those who love coffee but can’t find the time for, every morning, French press or percolate a cup. Keep in mind that most of these other processes demand a very close eye is kept upon them, whereas the drip machines only require for the user to fill it up and switch it on.
As opposed to the percolator, auto drip machines use finely ground beans and the water is only filtered once through the coffee beans once it has reached the programmed temperature. This is seen by some as a waste, and the resulting coffee as weak or light.
With the possibility of acquiring an automatic percolator, the issues on both devices can be avoided. The coffee brewed will continue to be robust but, as with auto drips, the process will end automatically and will keep the coffee from passing the boiling point and being burnt. As always, it is a matter of personal taste, and there is no wrong way with coffee as long as you are enjoying it.