How to Grind Coffee for A Percolator

Updated: Jun 14

Among the different ways to brew coffee, you may have heard about the percolator. 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 it to their preferred taste every single day.

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 now. 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.

What Is a Coffee Percolator?

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

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

How Does It Work?

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

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 something that 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 color of the brew changing color 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. In this type of percolator, the water will bubble up into its central tube. Thereafter, 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 actually a percolator. Instead, it is a Moka pot. The way this works is 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 rate of extraction of coffee grounds will increase with a large surface area.

  2. If you want to increase the surface area, then you will have to grind your coffee beans even finer.

  3. When the rate of extraction is higher, there will be lesser 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 that has a shorter contact time, then you will need your coffee grind to be much finer.

If you are using 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 a brew that is over-extracted. If your grind is a bit too coarse or the contact time is a bit too short, then 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, for lack of better words, tastes just odd. This is mainly because of the incorrect extraction of the grind.

If you have a grind that is under-extracted, 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 will be hollow, so 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. There are different filters, temperatures, and even pressure that 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 or it.

How to Grind Coffee for Percolator

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

Coarse  coffee grounds for percolator

Coffee grounds for percolator

Typically, you can make use of any coffee grinder to grind the coffee beans. However, we would 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 you with 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 in order 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 size of the grind. 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 come to a 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 you are making coffee in a percolator.

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

Using a darker roast may end up being too bitter or may give the coffee a burnt flavor. Using a light roast will not give the coffee much flavor because most of its subtleties will end up getting 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 talk about 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 that are provided on the inside of the pot. 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 will have to be seated properly into the well or the cavity that is 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 your reference, you can consider putting one to 1.5 tablespoons of ground coffee for medium-strength coffee. For a stronger cup of coffee, you can put about two tablespoons of ground coffee.

Step 4:

Once you have put in an adequate amount of coffee, you can place the spreader cover over the basket. After this, you can then seal the pot.

Step 5:

If you are using 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 are using an electric percolator, begin by plugging in the machine first and keep it switched 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. With most electric percolators, the pot will remain on in order 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 from its filter basket. Clean this thoroughly under running hot water. You can wash the pot every once in a while in a dishwasher, though you have to make sure that it is dishwasher-safe. Refer to the percolator’s user manual.


We hope that with this article, you now know how to grind coffee for percolators. While making coffee in a percolator is pretty much 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, when done the right way, you can be sure of getting a brilliantly-tasting cup of coffee. This is the reason we highly recommend that you try this out!