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Waking up and making a cup of coffee is something the majority of people do on a daily basis. 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.

Among the different ways to make coffee, you may have heard about the percolator. Have you ever wondered how to grind coffee for percolator?

Using percolators is considered to be an older way of brewing coffee. This method is truly American and has been used 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, then we’ve got your back.

What Is a Coffee Percolator?

The use of a coffee percolator is considered to be 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 was patented in 1865 by James Mason.

The percolator was then adapted to stovetops by an American farmer named Hanson Goodrich in 1889. This clearly has been an American invention and has been used for over a century, long before drip coffee makers were invented.

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 this is considered 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, it goes without saying that timing is something that is extremely crucial for that perfect tasting cup.

To percolate essentially means to filter through. This also means to become lively and spirited, similar to the bubbling you would see in a glass top of a non-automatic percolator. Its glass top allows the user to see the color of the brew constantly changing and helps him determine the readiness for its consumption.

Different Types of Percolators

Typically, you will find two different kinds of 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 to its central tube. Thereafter, it will fall through the ground coffee because of gravity.

While a pressure percolator is often categorized 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

When it comes to the size of the grind of the coffee bean, there are a number of factors that make a difference, but there are three that are the most important. These are contact time, extraction rate, and the flow rate.

  • The rate of extraction of coffee grounds will increase with a large surface area.
  • If you want to increase the surface area, then you will have to grind your coffee beans even finer.
  • When the rate of extraction is higher, there will be lesser contact time needed.
  • 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, in turn, 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 result in 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 likely 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, which means 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. There are different kinds of 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 just a bit of 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 in comparison to other brewing processes, the percolator will need a coarser grind of the coffee beans in order to prevent it from being bitter tasting.

how to grind coffee for percolator 2

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 tend to be the cheaper option between the two.

The biggest downside of a blade grinder, with regards to grinding coffee beans for the percolator, is that you will need to constantly keep an eye on the beans until it is ground to the point where you think it works fine. That's not the case with a burr grinder; it will grind the coffee beans according to your desired coarseness. With a blade grinder, the granules will also most likely be inconsistent.

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 the necessary amount of 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 necessary amount of coffee you want to grind.

Step 4: On the outside of your coffee mill, you will find a button to select the fineness 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 tend to taste the best.

Using a darker roast may end up being too bitter or may give the coffee a burnt flavor. On the other hand, 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 Make Percolator Coffee

Now that you know what kind of coffee grind to use for a percolator, it is high time we talk about the right method to use to make percolator 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, now is the 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 on the basis of 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 the adequate amount of coffee, you can place the spreader cover over the basket. After this, you can then securely close 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 your stovetop percolator is made of clear glass or has a clear lid, notice the color of the coffee 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 is done brewing, it will stop. With most electric percolators, the pot will continue to remain on in order to keep the coffee hot.

Step 6: Once you are done 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. The pot itself can be washed every once 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 percolator. 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 go into making a coffee with a percolator, when done the right way, you are assured of getting a brilliantly tasting cup of coffee. This is the reason why we highly recommend that you try this out!

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