• Shlomo Krudo

How to Grind Coffee for A Percolator

Updated: Oct 21


You may have heard about the percolator among the different ways to brew coffee. Have you ever wondered how to grind coffee for a percolator?

Waking up and making a cup of coffee is something most people do daily. There are different ways to make a cup of coffee.

Some just go straight for the instant coffee mix to minimize the effort, while only true coffee lovers will take the time to grind their favorite coffee beans and brew them to their preferred taste daily.

Using percolators is a classic way of brewing coffee. This method is truly American, and we have been using it for more than a century. If you are also curious about the coffee percolator and want to know more about it, how to use it, and the grind needed for it, we’ve got you covered.


How to Grind Coffee for A Percolator | Percolator | Brewing Java | Take control of your home brewing

What Is a Coffee Percolator?

Using a coffee percolator is one of America's most familiar methods of brewing coffee. It was first invented by a scientist and American soldier named Count Rumford, and James Mason registered a patent in 1865.

An American farmer, Hanson Goodrich, then adapted the percolator to stovetops in 1889. This has been an American invention, and we had used it for over a century, long before drip coffee makers were on the scene.





How Does It Work?

The coffee percolator works by allowing the boiling water to go upwards through the basket tube, which is perforated. Here, it rains down over the ground coffee, and it comes back into the boiling water again to repeat the process.

While we consider this to be an older style of making a cup of coffee, even to this day, many people still use this method to make their coffee. Of course, timing is extremely crucial for that perfect-tasting cup.

To percolate essentially means to filter through, similar to the bubbling you would see on a glass top of a non-automatic percolator. Its glass top allows you to watch the brew's color change and helps you determine if the brew is ready.

Different Percolators

Typically, you will find two different percolators in the market. They will either be a gravity percolator or a pressure percolator. Between these two, the gravity percolator is the one that is more commonly used.

A gravity percolator is pretty much what its name describes it to be. The water will bubble into its central tube in this type of percolator. After that, it will fall through the ground coffee because of gravity.

While we often categorize a pressure percolator as a type of percolator, it is not a percolator. Instead, it is a Moka pot. These works are quite similar to the mechanism of the gravity percolator.

A pressure percolator has a central chamber that takes the water up through the coffee ground. However, the pressure percolator will instead use water and steam pressure to force the water through the coffee ground, which is very similar to the process of an espresso machine.


Why Does Coffee Grind Size Matter

Factors that make a difference in the size of the coffee grind. There are three that are the most important. These are contact time, extraction rate, and flow rate.

  1. The extraction rate of coffee grounds will increase with a large surface area.

  2. You will have to grind your coffee beans even finer to increase the surface area.

  3. When the extraction rate is higher, there will be less contact time needed.

  4. Having a finer grind of the bean will reduce the flow rate of the water, which, in turn, increases the contact time.

By understanding this, you can understand that if you choose a brewing method with a shorter contact time, you will need your coffee grind to be much finer.

If you use an immersion brewer that normally steeps the ground coffee beans in the water for quite a while, its contact time will be significantly higher. This means that you will need a coarser grind of coffee than other kinds of brewing methods.

If you have a contact time that is very high or if the grind is a bit too fine, what this will cause is an over-extracted brew. If your grind is a bit too coarse or the contact time is too short, your coffee will be very weak.


What Does Poorly Extracted Coffee Taste Like?

We have all experienced it; whether at home or at a local café, we have tasted a cup of coffee that tastes just odd, for lack of better words. This is mainly because of the incorrect extraction of the grind.

If you have an under-extraction grind, you will probably have a cup of coffee that tastes either salty, acidic, or even sour. If your coffee grind has been over-extracted, then your cup of coffee will taste bitter and hollow so that it will lack any of the notable flavors of the coffee bean.

Finding a proper balance between the two of them will ensure that you will produce a cup of coffee that tastes phenomenal. Different filters, temperatures, and even pressure play an important role in determining the size of the grind. With most methods, the temperature will be between 195 and 205 degrees Fahrenheit (90.6 to 96.1 degrees Celsius) with no pressure.


How to Grind Coffee for Percolator

As mentioned earlier, a coffee percolator brews coffee by boiling the water through the ground coffee basket. Since this brewing process takes much longer than other brewing processes, the percolator will need a coarser grind of the coffee beans to prevent it from tasting bitter.

How to Grind Coffee for A Percolator | Coarse  coffee grounds for percolator | Brewing Java | Take control of your home brewing

Coffee grounds for percolator

Typically, you can use any coffee grinder to grind the coffee beans. However, we recommend using a burr grinder rather than a blade grinder because it will offer you a far more consistent grind of the beans when you do it for the percolator. Of course, blade grinders are the cheaper option between the two.

The biggest downside of a blade grinder, when grinding coffee beans for the percolator, is that you will need to keep watching the size of the grind until it is just right.

That’s not the case with a burr grinder; it will grind the coffee beans to the size of grind you set it to. With a blade grinder, the granules will also most likely be inconsistent.


Step-by-Step Guide

Below, we will provide a step-by-step guide to using a burr grinder to grind the coffee beans coarsely.


Step 1: Take out your coffee bean hopper’s lid.

Step 2: Now, you can fill the hopper with your desired brand of coffee beans. Make sure that you are not filling past the hopper’s maximum capacity. Once done, you can replace the lid of the hopper.

Step 3: On the outside of your coffee mill, turn the quantity selector to select the amount of coffee you want to grind.

Step 4: On the outside of your coffee mill, you will find a button to select the grind size. Make sure you are selecting a coarse grind.

Step 5: Take your coffee mill and plug its power cord into an electrical outlet. Now, you can switch on your coffee grinder to start the grinding process. The coffee mill will automatically halt when it has ground the coffee beans to your specified fineness.


What Kind of Roast of the Coffee Bean Should You Be Using?

We would also like to point out that there is a specific roast of coffee you should opt for when making coffee in a percolator.

You will find coffee beans on the market, typically a dark roast, light roast, and varying degrees of everything in between. We recommend using a medium roast when making coffee in a percolator, as these taste the best.

Using a darker roast may be too bitter or give the coffee a burnt flavor. Using a light roast will not give the coffee much flavor because most of its subtleties will get lost during the percolating process.


How to Percolate Your Coffee

Now that you know what kind of coffee grind to use for a percolator, it is time to discuss the right method to make percolate coffee. Below, we provide you with a detailed step-by-step guide.


Step 1:

Begin by adding water to the empty pot. Add this to a level you desire or according to the markings provided on the pot's inside. For your reference, the measurement for a standard cup of coffee is about five ounces.

Step 2:

Now, take the basket and place it on the pump stem. Then, insert this inside the pot. If you have an electric percolator, the pump stem’s base must be seated properly into the well or the cavity at the bottom. If you are using a paper filter, it is time to place it in the basket.


Step 3:

Take your coarsely ground coffee beans and drop them into the basket. Make sure that you have one tablespoon for one cup. Or you can increase or decrease this quantity based on your taste.

For reference, you can consider putting one to 1.5 tablespoons of ground coffee for medium-strength coffee. You can put about two tablespoons of ground coffee for a stronger cup of coffee.


Step 4:

Once you have enough coffee, you can place the spreader cover over the basket. After this, you can then seal the pot.

Step 5:

If you use a stovetop percolator, place this over the stove or a heat source at about medium heat. Assuming that they make your stovetop percolator of clear glass or have a clear lid, notice the color of the coffee and whether it has reached the color you desire. Once it has, you can remove it from the stovetop and then serve the coffee.

If you use an electric percolator, begin by plugging in the machine and keeping it on for a while. If your percolator has an adjustable coffee strength setting, this is where you make use of it. The machine will do its job, and when it finishes brewing, it will stop. The pot will remain on with most electric percolators to keep the coffee hot.


Step 6:

Once you finish making your coffee, it is essential that you clean the percolator, as well. There is not much to do with this process. Simply empty the grounds into a compost bin, and you’re done.

The chamber or the central tube will easily pop off its filter basket. Clean this thoroughly under running hot water. You can wash the pot in a dishwasher every once in a while, though you have to ensure that it is dishwasher-safe. Refer to the percolator’s user manual.


Final Thoughts

We hope that with this article, you now know how to grind coffee for percolators. While making coffee in a percolator is old-fashioned, that does not mean it is a bad way to go. It is important to note that making coffee in a percolator was one of the most common ways people made their cup of coffee in America for over a century.

While a bit of effort and time goes into making a coffee with a percolator, you can be sure of getting a brilliantly-tasting cup of coffee when done the right way. This is the reason we highly recommend that you try this out!

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