Woman's hand holding coffee maker while pouring coffee on cup

Many people don't consider a percolator the best way to make coffee, but with the proper technique and a little know how, percolated coffee can be even better than coffee from a conventional drip machine. Percolators are ideal for camping or other situations where only an elementary heating element such as a stove or hot plate are available.

What is a Percolator?

A percolator is a type of coffee maker in which hot water is forced, either by boiling action or a pump, up into a filter basket that holds coffee grounds. Inexpertly brewed percolator coffee is often bitter, so take care when preparing.

The Roast

Coffee beans are available in a light roast, dark roast and varying degrees in between. For percolator coffee, a medium roast is best. A dark roast may be too bitter or have a burnt flavor, while a light roast's subtleties are lost in the percolating process.

The Grind

The filtering basket in a coffee percolator is less fine than that in a traditional coffee maker. To avoid grounds in your coffee, always use a coarse grind (with large chunks of bean visible). Freshly ground is always better than store ground or canned.

Where to Get It

Most supermarkets carry whole coffee beans that you can grind yourself. Whether you grind the beans at home or in the store, use the coarsest setting available, or grind just until coarse. If somebody else grinds the beans for you, at a coffee house for example, tell them it's for a percolator.

How Much?

Use one tablespoon of grounds for each cup of coffee you prepare. Remember that a "cup of coffee" is actually four ounces, not eight.