Is Percolated Coffee Bad for You?

There are over one hundred variations of coffee brewing, but less than a dozen persist as commonly used methods for preparing the morning beverage. One of these is coffee made with a percolator, a relatively-cheap brewing device that uses no filter. This lack of filter can make some coffee lovers nervous.

Percolated coffee is bad for you inherently, but it can be bad for people who don’t drink a lot of water, suffer from anxiety, or have high cholesterol. The beverage is simply an over-extracted version of regular espresso, which results in the side effects of coffee getting amplified.

In this article, you will discover the contexts in which percolated coffee can be harmful so you can decide whether you should avoid it. You’ll also find out about a way to use the percolator while minimizing the negative aspects of percolated coffee. But first, let’s look at some of its benefits.

Health Benefits of Percolated Coffee

Percolated coffee, like any drink, has its positives and its negatives. Some of the benefits of drinking percolated coffee are scaled from the advantages of consuming regular coffee. This is because the beverage is simply a more intense version of coffee because of a lack of filtering. Here are the health benefits you can expect from percolated coffee.

More Antioxidants

Antioxidants can help reduce the risk of cancer. Coffee naturally has enough antioxidants to reduce cancer risk by 12%. Drinking percolated coffee can bump that up slightly, making it technically beneficial to consume unfiltered coffee.

Increased Metabolism

Coffee is linked with high metabolic activity, which is why black coffee is recommended to people trying to lose weight. Again, because of the concentration and extraction of percolated coffee, it has a larger metabolic acceleration effect than regular coffee. This is a conditional health advantage for those who suffer from a naturally low metabolism.

Health Drawbacks of Percolated Coffee

Percolated coffee is unfiltered, which means it is by default over-extracted. However, it is not over-extracted to the extent that it is downright undrinkable. Still, the health drawbacks of drinking too much coffee do apply to drinking a regular amount of percolated coffee. 

These disadvantages are situational and also depend on your medical history. With that out of the way, let’s look at the issues that can be caused by consuming percolated coffee regularly.

Acidity and Heartburn

Coffee is acidic thanks to the acidic oils present at the tail-end of the extraction. In filtered coffee, these oils are removed from the brewing output by the filter’s resistance. If your stomach’s pH leans towards acidic, then drinking percolated coffee can give you heartburn because of the acidic oils.

You can prevent this by shortening the brewing time or using coarse grounds. These adjustments can make the coffee less potent but can prevent heartburn. In most cases, heartburn is a surface-level problem that is fixed by a spoonful of Gaviscon.

Higher Cholesterol

Where heartburn isn’t too serious and can be treated with a thick syrup, cholesterol is a far more serious issue that cannot be controlled easily. Percolated coffee is over-extracted to the point of featuring the highest quantities of cafestol and kahweol, both of which are oils that can raise cholesterol levels.

This isn’t an inherent negative because if you have low cholesterol, drinking percolated coffee can be helpful. But for consumers with a sedentary lifestyle, the cholesterol increase can be more serious. Running the percolated coffee through a filter can be one solution. However, the filter can also affect the flavor of the beverage.


Caffeine creates a large hydrating burden on your system, and when you consume percolated coffee, you consume more caffeine. As a consequence, you’re going to need more water. For someone who doesn’t mind hydrating, this is not as much a health issue as a mild inconvenience because of frequent washroom use. 

But for people who do not like to drink water, percolated coffee can create a hydration burden they cannot offset. To beat dehydration, as someone who doesn’t like water, you should get a flavored hydration product that can help you orally restore the water levels in your system.


Finally, one of the major negative effects of percolated coffee is that it can make some people very anxious. There’s an emphasis on ‘some’ people because caffeine can make only the naturally anxious people more anxious. 

A lot of the energy that caffeine seemingly gives the average person translates to nervous energy in an anxious one. If a regular cup of coffee makes you slightly jittery, percolated coffee will make you a lot more jittery.

How to Fix the Percolated Coffee Intensity

As you may have noticed, percolated coffee’s intensity is what produces most of the potential health risks associated with the beverage. By simply decreasing the intensity, you can make percolated coffee as healthy as a regular espresso.

To fix the intensity of percolated coffee, you can use coarse grounds and medium roast and brew for a shorter period. You can also use paper filters with medium-fine grounds to get a regular cup of coffee from the percolator.

White Disc Coffee Filter by Melitta Coffee can help negate all the health consequences of consuming unfiltered coffee. The filters fit in most percolators on the market and cost less than ten dollars for a bundle of 300. With over 2,800 reviews, their global average rating is 4.7 out of 5 stars, with ease of use being the most admired feature.

Please note that because the paper filter hinders the extraction, using the coarse grounds you usually use with a percolator can result in very mild coffee. To avoid a watery extraction, use medium-fine coffee grounds with round paper filters.

Final Thoughts

Percolated coffee is not bad for you, but unfiltered coffee can be bad for someone with high cholesterol. Since percolated coffee is usually unfiltered, it is not the best for anyone suffering from anxiety, high blood pressure, or poor water consumption. Using a round coffee filter can negate these side effects and produce a healthy cup of coffee. Just remember to use coarse grounds without a filter and medium-fine grounds with a filter.

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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