Do I Need Special Coffee for a Percolator?

Coffee lovers swear by percolators as the best brewing device for maximum flavor. That’s because the brewing device is set up to extend extraction, which gives the resulting beverage a sense of depth. But can a percolator make any coffee taste better?

You do not need special coffee for a percolator, but you should use coarse grounds so that the extracted beverage doesn’t have any coffee particles in it. Percolators don’t usually have a filter, so non-coarse grounds can fall through the tray into the beverage.

Other than that, your coffee ground selection should be entirely focused on taste and flavor. And that’s exactly what this post can help you with. In this article, we cover three of the best coffee grounds to consider for your percolator. We also briefly cover how you can adjust the intensity of percolated coffee to your liking. But first, you need to understand this brewing tool.

Understanding the Percolator

A percolator features a stove-top kettle with a water reservoir at the bottom and a pipe connecting it to the pot above. The water boils through the tube and overflows into the kettle throw a basket that contains coffee grounds. This limits the temperature control of the brewing process because you cannot make an ounce of percolated coffee without boiling the water.

Since the water has to reach its boiling point, it cannot extract the top notes of the grounds’ flavor. That’s why percolated coffee borders on over-extracted. Secondly, there is no pressure on the grounds as the resulting coffee is not being pulled like an espresso shot. This means a coffee filter isn’t viable.

If you use a coffee filter alongside a percolator, you might get very mild coffee. In other words, a percolator is good at producing coffee on either extreme. And the more preferred extreme is the deep extracted one.

Best Coffee for Percolators

Having established that percolators are designed to extract coffee well into its base notes, let’s look at specific coffee beans/grounds that are best enjoyed through a percolator brew.

Tiny Footprint Coffee – Peru, Medium-Roast

This carbon-negative coffee is environment-friendly and percolator-friendly. It comes preground to a medium-coarse fineness, which is ideal for deep extraction as it plays into the depth of flavor derived by the percolator. But it’s not the grind that makes this coffee perfect. It’s the flavor.

It has a caramel top note in aroma and flavor alike, giving your tastebuds a sweet welcome. A citrus base makes the sugary heart in the extracted coffee a lot more balanced. The percolator gets its time to shine with the base notes at the tail-end of the extraction. The citrus notes are far more evident in the percolated version of this coffee than in hand-pulled or regular brewed espresso.

Gevalia Coarse Ground Guatemala Coffee

Continuing the journey of exotic flavors is Guatemalan coffee which is ground to be more balanced than the previous option. This is better for those who like their coffee more flavorful but not very deeply extracted. Its medium roast further ensures that the resulting beverage isn’t too concentrated.

Instead of flavor, this is a texture-driven coffee with a pair of smoky and earthen notes dictating the entire experience. The flavor is prominently associated with the origin of this coffee, as its Guatemalan origins shine through what’s otherwise a regular arabica bean.

AmazonFresh Sumatra Ground Coffee

It is easy to scoff at anything Amazon, but the company’s coffee acquisitions have been impressive. This fair trade coffee is dark roasted, which gives it a chocolatey aftertaste. More importantly, the coffee has slightly less caffeine than medium-roasted grounds that are often used with a percolator. If your issue with percolated coffee is that it has too much caffeine, then getting any medium-roasted coarse grounds can be the solution.

But what’s special about Sumatra coffee is that it has a very strong flavor that isn’t on the nose. This coffee feels strong thanks to the almost charred notes, and the resulting flavor is intense, reminiscent of cocoa. With over 450 reviews and ratings, it has a global average rating of 4.3 stars. Despite being taken from a total of 5 stars, this is a slightly low rating for an Amazon-backed product.

I, too, would have given it a bad rating had I used a shallow brewing method like pulling a cold espresso. Most reviewers who used a Moka pot or percolator liked the coffee as if it were specifically formulated for deep extraction methods. The only drawback is that it doesn’t taste too complex, and its intense notes, while interesting, are one-dimensional.

Percolated Coffee and Adjustments

With our recommendations out of the way, let’s look at how and what you can adjust when making coffee in a percolator. This is worth addressing because there aren’t any controls on the device, and the grounds don’t always get the best results with standard operation. The table below goes over what you can do to address specific concerns.

The coffee is too strongDilute post-extractionYou can control how much water you add after the coffee is brewed. From Americano to Long black, plenty of coffee beverages are diluted with water.
The coffee is too bitterDecrease the brewing timeWhile percolated coffee has a more intense flavor than regular coffee, it is not too bitter unless you brew it for an unnecessarily long time.
There are coffee grounds in the coffeeUse coarse groundsIf even medium-coarse grounds end up dripping into the coffee, chances are your percolator has wider holes and will work better with coarse ground coffee
The coffee tastes unnaturalUse coffee filter disks like Melitta round coffee filters and fine grounds.The paper filter can act as a barrier to over-extraction and produce regular filter coffee as long as the coffee grounds are fine. Thick grounds require more pressure to extract.

Final Thoughts

Percolated coffee is not made with special grounds. It can be made with any type of grounds as long as they are coarse or medium-coarse. Fine grounds keep falling into the coffee, so they should not be used in a percolator. All roasts work well with this brewing device, but the light roast is overcaffeinated, leaving behind medium-roast as the ideal and dark roast as a slightly less complex one for percolated coffee.

Tim S.

Tim loves roasting, brewing, and experimenting with coffee. After years of perfecting this craft, working as a barista, and owning a small coffee service in college, he has decided to share his knowledge with the world.

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