Coffee percolators tend to be something of a crowd splitter at the best of times. Particularly when it comes to the more ‘discerning’ coffee connoisseurs, opinions on the benefits (or otherwise) of the classic percolator differ wildly.
On one hand, you’ve those who insist there’s no coffee in the world quite like percolator coffee. On the other, you have those who won’t go near the things under any circumstances.
In the latter camp, you’ll often find that their justification lies in one or more common myths and misconceptions. The vast majority of which have been doing the rounds for far too long, despite having been busted wide open on numerous occasions.
With this in mind, here’s a quick rundown of just a few common coffee percolator myths and misconceptions:
Flavorful coffee is hardly a bad thing, but coffee that comes out so strong you could practically chew it is something else entirely. Admittedly, it’s possible to produce coffee that’s unpleasantly strong with a percolator. But only if you get it wrong - just as would be the case with most other brewing methods. If the water temperature is spot on and you allow it to do its thing at a rate of around one ‘perc’ every three to five seconds, a percolator can produce exceptionally smooth and enjoyable coffee.
With an electric percolator, the temperature is carefully controlled with pinpoint precision. With a stovetop percolator, it’s entirely down to you to control its temperature. Though in both instances, there’s no reason at all why the water should ever become too hot. As a reminder, the optimal temperature for brewing superior coffee is 197.6 – 204.8 ℉ (i.e. 92 ºC - 96 ºC) - if you want to be really precise!
Too flavorful, too watery - pretty conflicting accusations to say the least. Again, there’s no logic whatsoever in the suggestion that percolator coffee is weak and watery. And if it is, it’s because you’re doing it wrong - simple as that. With the right coffee, the right coarseness of coffee grounds, the right water temperature and the right amount of time, percolator coffee can be truly decadent.
Utter nonsense, as every brewing method is only as good (or bad) as you allow it to be. Depending on how you go about it, drip coffee can be excellent or awful. The same applies with every French press, aeropress and percolator on the market. No method is ‘better’ than any other - it’s all about personal tastes and the effort put in on your part.
Last up, various experiments have shown that the average percolator takes around six minutes to produce a batch of quality coffee. By contrast, a French press needs about five minutes to get the job done, while an automatic drip coffee maker takes around 10 minutes. Slower than some methods though faster than others, there’s no truth at all in the claim that percolator coffee takes too long to make.
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