The 4 Best Coffee Percolators
Coffee percolators have a PR problem. Often associated with the hulking urns found in reception halls or at conferences, oversized percolators are guilty of dispensing stale, bitter, and sometimes cold coffee. When they brew up to 55 cups of coffee at a time, it’s no wonder! So you might be surprised to learn that small percolators are known for producing rich, flavorful coffee at home. Relatively low-tech in their design, the best coffee percolators have minimal parts and are easy to use. A quick search on Amazon turns up dozens of models ranging in capacity, material, and either stove top or electrical functionality. To guide you, here are a few things to look for when shopping.
If you have a small household, live alone, or only have a couple of cups of coffee each day, you can get away with a percolator that brews up to 4 cups. Since percolators get larger the more cups they brew, consider how much space you have to spare in your kitchen.
Electric percolators offer the ease of pressing a button to start percolating, and will keep coffee warm after brewing. Stovetop models are more hands-on, but can be taken on-the-go and used anywhere there’s a heat source. When it comes to material, regardless of whether you prefer stovetop or electric percolators, avoid ones with plastic parts that are prone to melting.
The best coffee percolators below turn out delicious coffee, and might make you rethink what you know about this classic brewing method.
1. The Overall Best: Presto 6-Cup Stainless Steel Coffee Percolator
This retro-looking electric percolator from Presto is among the simplest and best-quality designs that you’ll find. Made from stainless steel and containing only four parts, it stands 10 inches tall and can brew between two to six cups of coffee. One thing to note, when it comes to coffee, cups are measured in 5 ounces, versus the standard 8 that you’d get when using a liquid measuring cup. The power is operated by a single button, and the subtle light will indicate when coffee is finished brewing and is ready to be served. After it's done, it automatically goes into a keep-warm mode to ensure coffee maintains its temperature. Percolation takes a bit longer than other brew methods like automatic drip machines — expect the Presto to brew about a cup a minute. If you want to serve your coffee outside of the kitchen, the power cord is detachable and a drip-free spout ensures tidy pouring. And if you’re looking for a slightly larger-capacity percolator, the Presto is also available 12-cup model.
What fans say: "My family has owned this percolator for 6 years now, purchased right here on Amazon in 2010, and I'm about to buy another one for work.This pot has consistently delivered the best tasting coffee - better than all restaurants we frequent, better than friends and family's coffee... just awesomely, amazingly good."
2. The Most Compact: Farberware Stainless Steel Coffee Percolator
For smaller kitchens or for those who don’t want to wait for a full pot to brew, this compact electric percolator from Faberware is a great option. At just under 9 inches tall, it’s about the height of a water bottle and doesn’t take up much space. While its 2-to-4-cup capacity is compact, it’s still constructed from solid, durable stainless steel. Like the Presto, it has a keep-warm feature to keep coffee at the best temperature. Due to its heavy walls, though, coffee will stay warm even if you decide to unplug it from its power source. Simply styled with cool-touch handle and knob on the lid, it lacks the ready light that the Farberware has. However, the machine will automatically shut off and turn to the keep-warm mode after percolation is finished.
What fans say: "I love this Percolator! We stay in a travel trailer for the summer months in upstate NY and this is the perfect size. My husband is not a coffee drinker but, I NEED my 2 to 4 cups a day! This is great, and I will be taking this appliance home with me and not leaving it in the travel trailer! I have been using a pod coffeemaker, one cup at a time and the flavor is just not there. This percolator gives me excellent coffee, I could drink it all day. It is so smooth and no bitter taste at all. You can make your coffee exactly like you prefer it; strong, medium or weak. It's delicious every time."
3. The Best Stovetop Percolator: Coletti Bozeman 9-Cup Coffee Percolator
The best stovetop coffee percolator is this 9-cup model from Coletti. Since it doesn’t contain any internal electrics, you'll measure the capacity based on the measurements on the side of the stainless steel pitcher. The Coletti can be used at home over a gas or electric range, and is a great option for those who like to travel or camp where electricity is limited or unavailable. The wooden handle and clear glass knob on the lid are nods to early-model percolators. As water filters through the coffee grounds and through the upper chamber, it darkens, revealing brewed coffee through the glass knob. Because the Coletti is manually-operated, you'll have to set a timer once the water comes to a boil to ensure the right level of extraction. The Coletti also comes with optional paper filters to ensure pure coffee flavor, and to prevent any grounds from making it into the final brew.
What fans say: "I purchased this percolator to replace another highly rated pot that I received for Christmas. The top spot welds on the handle broke on the other brand. I could tell right away that the Coletti Percolator was a far superior product to the one I initially purchased. It seems like it is made with slightly heavier gauge or higher quality steel. The top lid seals very well, and the glass percolator top is a plus. I was looking for a durable pot similar to one that a friend showed me on a deer scouting trip. His is 20+ years old and still working well. I feel like this Coletti percolator will hold up for years to come."
4. The Best For Espresso-Style Coffee: Bialetti 6-Cup Stovetop Coffee Maker
Sometimes referred to as a moka pot, this stovetop coffee maker from Bialetti uses pressure to force water through grinds into an upper chamber. This technology creates a much more concentrated brew (some compare it to espresso), versus other percolators where water circulates and is filtered through grinds via gravity. The Bialetti can brew six cups, but rather than 5-ounce cups, their cup is closer to 1.5 ounces of very robust coffee. The versatility of the Bialetti makes it a winner for coffee-drinking of all kinds. Drink it straight as individual shots or as a super-strong cup of coffee. You can also add hot water to create an Americano, or combine your coffee with hot milk for a café au lait. Something to note: The Bialetti takes a finer espresso grind of coffee than other coffee makers on this list.
What fans say: "If I could give this more than 5 stars I would. I love espresso drinks from coffee shops... [b]ut they're about 5 bucks a pop at my local coffee shop. So I settled on this, figuring I would try it and if it didn't make what I wanted I'd only be out about 30 bucks. It makes delicious coffee... From my readings I've gathered that its not actually espresso, as the Moka pot doesn't make enough pressure for it to be real espresso. But its playing the part convincingly, I can't tell the difference between what comes out of this and a shot of espresso. Its paid for itself a dozen times over at this point. Absolutely one of the best purchases I've ever made. I couldn't be happier."
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