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How to Use an Electric Percolator

Suppose you’re shopping for the best coffee maker. In that case, you may wonder if an electrical percolator coffee machine is suitable for you. You may associate traditional percolators with camping, but an electric coffee percolator makes strong coffee at home. In addition, with an electric model, you’ll get the convenience of a drip machine, but the end result will be a more robust cup of coffee than other brewing methods. If you want to know how to use an electric percolator, read this guide.


  • Fill your percolator with fresh water and get some freshly ground coffee.
  • Put your coffee in the upper chamber and place it in the percolator pot.
  • Plug the percolator in, and it will automatically power off after 5-10 minutes of brewing.

An electric percolator consists of three parts: the percolator pot, filter basket, and pump stem. Hot water travels up the hollow stem and pours over the ground coffee basket as the brew cycle moves along. In addition, an electric model doesn’t use an external heat source because the unit is self-contained.

Of course, an electric percolator isn’t going to do you any good at a remote campsite. So, if you’d like to make coffee outdoors, read our guide to using a camp coffee percolator. Don’t worry, if you are not a fan of the outdoors, we have a guide on how to use a coffee percolator as well. Or you can read our article on how to use a coffee maker to learn about drip machines.

How to Use an Electric Coffee Percolator

Tools: Coffee beans, coffee grinder

Insider Tip

For the most consistent brew strength, use a tablespoon of coffee per cup of water you pour in the chamber.

STEP 1 Grind Your Coffee

Just like using a stovetop coffee maker, your percolator needs quality, coarse coffee grinds for a good cup of coffee. For the best results, use a burr grinder if you’re starting out with whole beans. If you want your coffee strong, you’ll need a tablespoon of ground coffee for every cup you want to make. For more information on how much coffee to use, check out our article on how to measure coffee in a coffee maker. For the best flavor, avoid dark roast beans. A medium roast is best for use with a percolator.

STEP 2 Fill the Water Chamber

Fill the percolator with enough water for the amount of coffee you want to make. While your water temperature doesn’t matter, cold water will take longer to heat.

STEP 3 Plug the Percolator In

Make sure the electric plug is dry and plug it into the wall.

STEP 4 Put Grounds in Upper Basket

Insert a paper filter in the perforated basket (if required) and carefully make a bed of coffee grounds around the pump stem. Remember, we want a tablespoon of grounds per cup of coffee for a potent brew.

STEP 5 Insert Central Tube and Perforated Basket

Slide the vertical tube and filter basket into place and close the lid.

STEP 6Let the Brew Cycle Complete

Some models will brew automatically, but most have a start button. Then, just like a drip coffee maker, your electric percolator will automatically shut off after a few minutes.

STEP 7 Remove the Perk Tube

After the brew is complete, remove the basket and central tube. Dispose of your coffee grounds and set the basket in the sink.

STEP 8Serve and Clean

Let your freshly-brewed coffee cool for a few minutes and serve your cups of coffee. If you notice any leftover mess from the brewing process, use soapy water to clean the percolator while the stainless steel is still warm. That said, unplug the percolator from the power outlet before cleaning.


Do not touch the percolator right after the coffee is done. Consider wearing rubber gloves when you remove the stainless steel coffee filter, as it may be hot.


How do I clean a percolator?

While soap and clean water will work well most of the time, you can also clean your percolator with a vinegar-water mixture. Vinegar is great on stainless steel coffee percolators, especially if you want to avoid using potentially harmful chemicals.

What is the difference between a French Press and a percolator?

A French Press coffee maker uses immersion to make coffee. The coffee grounds rest in hot water before being separated from the fresh coffee. A percolator forces boiling water up the stem, raining it down on the ground coffee. In this way, it works similarly to drip coffee machines.

Where do I get a large coffee percolator?

While you can buy a large stovetop percolator, they are costly. However, if you are hosting a large party, you can rent one for much less. Contact a local catering service to rent a large percolator pot.

STAT: In a survey of 1,009 adults aged 18 and older, a quarter of coffee drinkers say they’re addicted, but only 10% want to cut back. (source)

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