9 Best Coffee Percolators of 2020
Coffee percolators often get a bad rap among coffee geeks. But if you love that extra-hot, extra-bold coffee they’re known for, then you know there’s no substitute.
Avoiding the bitter or watery coffee that gives these brewers their poor reputation is simply a matter of buying the right percolator. And for that, we’re here to help as we’ve done the research.
This article will tell you what the best coffee percolators to buy, what to avoid, and what features are absolute must-haves.
Presto 02822 6-Cup Stainless Steel Coffee Percolator
Presto’s 02822 6-cup coffee percolator is easy to use, reliable, and inexpensive, making it our favorite model this year. It features durable stainless steel construction, an automatic keep-warm mode, and modern design that brings this retro-style coffee maker into the 21st century.
How to Choose the Best Coffee Percolator
If you came here looking for Moka pots, you’re in the wrong place. So before we get deeper into best coffee percolator choices, we should make some things clear. There are two main categories of percolators: pressure, and gravity percolators (1). Pressure percolators are commonly known as Moka pots or stovetop espresso makers. In this article, we will be focusing exclusively on gravity style percolators.
||West Bend 14159||
||Farberware 50124 Classic Yosemite||
||Hamilton Beach 40614||
||Coleman Stainless Steel Percolator||
||GSI Outdoors Percolator||
||Stansport Aluminum Percolator||
||Medelco Glass Percolator||
Electric or Stovetop: Where Do You Brew?
The first decision to make when purchasing a coffee percolator is choosing between a stovetop or an electric percolator. There are pros and cons for each type, so your preference will depend on how you plan to use your brewer.
Electric percolators plug into a wall socket and use electricity to get the water to the boiling point. The main advantage of this style is how easy it is to use. Just add the coffee grounds and water to your percolator, turn it on, and let it work its magic.
Most electric coffee percolators even switch automatically into a keep-warm mode after brewing so that you can enjoy hot coffee all day long.
Alternatively, stovetop brewers are a bit more hands-on, which allows you to have more control over the brewing process. It might take a bit of experimentation to find out exactly how long to let it perk, but once you’ve dialed it in, you can make your coffee exactly as strong as you like it. For a quick and easy guide, you can check our article on how to use a percolator. Or watch this video:
The other great advantage to stovetop coffee percolators is that they’ll work with any heat source to take them anywhere. This makes them one of the most popular brewers for travel, campfire cooking, or any other time you want to make coffee outdoors.
How Many People Are You Serving?
Coffee percolators come in a vast range of sizes, from 2-cup mini brewers to 20-cup behemoths. What size you should buy depends on how many people you plan to serve, how portable you want your brewer to be, the storage and counter space in your kitchen, and how fast you want your coffee.
If you’re planning to brew for a big crew, it’s well worth investing in an extra-large percolator. Coffee percolators are one of the easiest ways to make coffee for a large crowd. But if you’ll only ever be brewing a cup or two at a time, a smaller brewer will be less expensive, quicker to brew, and more practical, especially if you plan to use it when traveling or camping.
While it is possible to brew small quantities of coffee in a large percolator, it’s less efficient, and many consumers find that the quality of the coffee isn’t quite as high.
Why Does Material Matter?
The most common coffee percolator materials are stainless steel, enamel, and aluminum, and each has its advantages.
Stainless steel is the highest quality choice. It’s incredibly durable. It’s nearly impossible to damage, it doesn’t rust, and it won’t leach any flavors into your coffee (2). It’s easy to clean and maintain and contributes a polished, classy look to your brewer. The trade-offs are that stainless steel is typically the most expensive option, and it can be cumbersome when used for a large percolator.
You’ll only find enamel, a baked ceramic, used for stovetop-style percolators. Its main advantage is that it is less expensive than stainless steel. Ceramics also have a lower heat conductivity, which means they retain heat well (3), making them an excellent choice for stovetop percolators that don’t automatically keep coffee warm. It’s a sturdy material, but it can crack or chip if dropped on a hard surface, so you need to treat it with some care.
Aluminum coffee makers have a bad reputation, as some consumers worry about aluminum metal leaching into their coffee. However, thorough scientific studies have mainly debunked this fear, both in terms of how much aluminum ends up in your coffee and its health impacts (4).
Aluminum is a metal that will gain and lose heat quickly. So, naturally, pots of this type heat quickly, but also cool quickly.
As compared with steel and enamel, aluminum has the advantage of being inexpensive, durable, and exceedingly lightweight. It heats and cools very quickly, all of which make it an excellent choice for large-capacity percolators (5).
On rare occasions, you might find a coffee percolator made from extra-strong glass. The best features of a glass coffee percolator are its neat aesthetic and the ability to watch the perking in action. Of course, glass percolators will be the most breakable, so they’re a better choice for your kitchen than a camping trip.
You should also consider the material used for the lid or top knob of your percolator. Many will offer a clear glass or resin-based top, which allows you to view your percolating coffee during brewing. This is an especially important feature to look for when buying a stovetop model. You need to observe the frequency of the perks to adjust the temperature correctly. A clear top is less crucial in an electric model, though it can be fun to watch the perking in action.
The 9 Best Coffee Percolators in 2020
Though all coffee percolators may be created equal, their only real commonality is that they all brew a strong cup of hot, rich java. Beyond that, each is built with a purpose in mind. Whether you’re looking for a sleek, modern brewer for your countertop or a retro design for a campfire cookout, keep reading for our reviews of the best coffee percolators.
If you’re looking for a reliable and attractive electric coffee percolator at an affordable price, it’s hard to beat our top pick, the Presto 02822. This percolator has clean lines and a timeless, elegant look that says “sophistication” more than “campfire.” With its middle-of-the-road 6-cup capacity, it’s the perfect size for an average household. It’s small enough to heat up and brew quickly and large enough to satisfy 2 to 4 thirsty coffee lovers.
One of the best features of this percolator is that it is 100% stainless steel, without a single plastic component.
This guarantees the brewer’s longevity, but it avoids the risk of any unwelcome plastic tastes leaching into your coffee. And it makes cleaning the exterior as easy as a quick wipe with a cloth.
The Presto 02822 is incredibly simple to use, thanks to a couple of subtle details that make it virtually foolproof. Once you add the coffee and water and plug it in, it’s just a matter of waiting for the ready-to-serve indicator light to switch on. It automatically stops brewing and switches to a keep warm mode, ensuring your second cup will be just as toasty as the first. For ease of serving, it has a drip-free spout and stay-cool handle, and a detachable cord to make it easier to carry around.
Like our top pick, our runner up, the West Bend 54159, is another highly rated stainless steel coffee percolator. The most significant difference between them is capacity. While the Presto electric coffee percolator is well suited to a small household of 2 to 4 coffee drinkers, the West Bend has double the capacity – a full 12 cups. This makes it ideal for larger homes, heavy coffee drinkers, or for serving a visiting brunch crowd.
This 12-cup percolator has a classic look, and its stainless steel finish makes it easy to keep clean. The interior components are also stainless steel, so you can trust that this brewer will last. An included spreader helps to evenly saturate the coffee grounds, a key for best extraction (6).
Both the base and handle are heat resistant, and the hollow handle has a convenient window for viewing the liquid level inside. Its detachable cord makes it good for tableside serving.
Brewing is as simple as plugging it in and waiting for the magic to happen. An indicator light will let you know when it’s done, but the West Bend also has a transparent glass top knob to watch the perking in action. Upon completion, it switches automatically to keep warm mode. The resulting brew is bold-tasting and bracingly hot, a perfect specimen of percolated coffee.
Farberware has been making cookware for over 120 years, and their Classic Series percolators are much beloved. This 8-cup percolator is a perfect example of what an essential percolator should be: simply designed, easy to use, and reliable. And it comes at the price of a couple of Starbucks lattes.
It’s built from heavy-duty stainless steel polished to a mirror finish, so it’s as pretty to look at as it is durable. The non-reactive interior keeps your coffee from absorbing any unwanted flavors, and all the components are dishwasher safe for easy cleanup.
Despite its low price, it’s clear that this brewer is precision-crafted, which makes it one of the best coffee percolators in our opinion. It feels sturdy, and the lid fits snugly. It features a transparent glass knob on top, a crucial feature for any stovetop percolator. It allows you to monitor the perking rate and adjust the heat source as necessary.
Electric coffee percolators are all about convenience and consistency, and those two factors are what we love most about the Hamilton Beach 40614. Brewing is as simple as adding coffee and water and plugging it in, and the convenient water level viewing window means you don’t even have to measure the water. The 40614 is so quick and easy that you can also use it to make hot water for hot cocoa or tea in place of a kettle.
This 12-cup percolator is practical for serving a crowd or brewing yourself up a big pot to last all day. After brewing, an indicator light alerts you that it’s ready to serve, and the percolator automatically switches into a keep-warm mode.
One of the distinguishing features of this percolator is that Hamilton Beach uses a patented “gentle” keep-warm system. This avoids the risk of overheating your brewed coffee, which can add burnt and bitter flavors, and is particularly valuable for anyone who likes to brew up a full pot to last all day.
It has a detachable cord for ease of serving. The handle is made from cool-touch material, and the spout is designed to be drip-proof. Uniquely, the lid twists into a locked position, so there’s never a spill risk. The overall design is sleek and stylish, with a modern rather than retro feel.
Founded 120 years ago, Coleman has long been a trusted name in outdoor gear, so it’s no surprise that they have crafted one of the best stovetop coffee percolators. Better yet, they underwent a business overhaul in 2016 to improve their packaging and design while maintaining their commitment to practical, high-end products (7).
As a result, this 12-cup percolator will be equally at home on your kitchen stove or over a roaring campfire with its basic but timeless design. Though lightweight, it remains incredibly durable thanks to its stainless steel construction, which makes it rust-proof and easy to clean and maintain. This is the last percolator you’ll ever need to buy, and if you wanted to, you could probably pass it down to your children as well.
But it’s not just a beautiful design; it brews 12 cups of rich, bold coffee using any heat source. A transparent glass knob on top makes it easy to watch the percolating action inside and adjust the heat as necessary for that perfectly strong cuppa joe.
Before modern innovations like the Aeropress or the Handpresso, percolators were among the original camping coffee makers. And thanks to their simple design, minimal components, and ease of use, they are still one of the best tools to have on a camping trip, especially if you’re planning to brew coffee for a crowd.
Percolators are perfect for making coffee when you’re enjoying the great outdoors. In fact, this is what percolated coffee is best known for.
GSI Outdoors 8-cup percolator is a well-established brand in the outdoor equipment space, so much so that all its products come with a lifetime warranty. You can trust that their enamel camping percolator is perfect for your next backcountry adventure.
It’s made from dishwasher-safe heavy-gauge steel, so it’s virtually indestructible. The enamel finish is kiln-hardened at 1,000 ℉, making it highly resistant to chips and scratches, and the speckled pattern gives it that classic campground aesthetic. But this multilayer construction is more than just lovely to look at; it provides ideal heat distribution to ensure your coffee tastes as rich and sweet as it should, never bitter.
The clear resin-based cap makes it easy to monitor the rate of perking and adjust the heat as necessary.
If you only need to make one or two cups of coffee at a time, it makes sense to opt for a small capacity 4-cup percolator. These will heat and brew much faster, saving you both time and electricity, and they take up less space on your counter or in your cupboard.
For up to 4 cups of coffee at a time, we love Farberware Classic FCP240 stainless steel electric percolator, making a bold-tasting brew at the rapid rate of 1 cup per minute. As experts in coffee percolators and cookware of all sorts, Farberware has stocked this little coffee maker with all the larger models’ premium features. It’s small in stature, but not in quality.
The exterior and interior components are 100% stainless steel, making the Farberware Classic FCP240 both durable and stylish. After brewing, it switches into an automatic keep-warm mode. The lid knob and handles are made from stay-cool material, so you don’t have to wait for that precious first cup, and the cord detaches for easy serving and storage.
On the other end of the spectrum, if you need to brew coffee for a big crowd, a large capacity percolator is the way to go. With their straightforward design and operation, stovetop percolators are among the most accessible styles of coffee makers to scale up. While it’s rare to find a coffee maker machine or pour over coffee maker that can make more than 12 or 16 cups of coffee at a time, this 20-cup percolator is perfect for those who like to brew coffee in big batches. Not only is this percolator larger than most coffee machines, but it brews a stronger cup so that a little coffee can go a long way.
This ultra-large Stansport percolator is made of durable, rust-proof aluminum, with a high-gloss finish and retro style that gives it an expensive look at an affordable price. The aluminum construction is an excellent choice for such a large capacity brewer as it keeps it lightweight and allows it to heat quickly for brewing and cool just as soon for serving. A transparent knob on top makes it easy to keep watch on the perking action inside.
You might think that such a large size would make this percolator unwieldy, but the top and side handles and the easy-pour spout, make serving a breeze.
If your favorite part of brewing with a percolator is peering through the glass top and watching those perky bubbles inside, this Medelco glass percolator is made for you. The entire body is of high-quality Schott DURAN borosilicate glass from Germany. You can watch every detail of the action without being confined to a small viewing window (8).
Not only is this fun to observe, but the better viewing range means you can also control the heat under your percolator more carefully to obtain that perfect perking rate for the sweetest tasting coffee. It has a smart design that mimics a classic diner-style coffee carafe. This is aesthetically pleasing and practical, as it serves up the hot brew as readily as a carafe.
The Medelco is a stovetop percolator, suitable for use on any heat source, from a campfire to an induction burner. For electric range coils, It comes with a metal heat-diffusing trivet. This 8-cup percolator comes in a nice mid-range size that can serve small or large groups.
The extra-strong glass is both stain-resistant and dishwasher safe, so cleaning is a piece of cake, and your coffee percolator will look pristine for years to come.
In this modern era of third-wave coffee shops and home espresso bars, coffee percolators are considered a bit of a retro throwback. But there’s a reason they’ve been around so long. For lovers of their unique style of hot and bold-tasting coffee, there’s simply no substitute.
If this is how you like your morning java, our recommendation is the Presto 02822, an all-stainless steel percolator that you can count on for years to come.
You should not use regular ground coffee in a percolator. The filter basket of a coffee percolator is less subtle than the filter basket of a proper coffee machine, so you should opt for a coarser grind to avoid ending up with grounds in your coffee.
The best coffee for percolator will always depend on how you like your coffee, but we recommend a flavorful medium roast. A dark roast can end up tasting too bitter, while a light roast is prone to tasting watery or astringent.
Your percolator makes weak-tasting coffee because you aren’t getting the water hot enough. In this way, it doesn’t extract the coffee properly as it cycles through.
Alternatively, it could be that your filter basket is clogged or packed too full or that you didn’t brew for long enough (9).
- Coffee History: The Percolator. (2018, August 9). Retrieved from https://drinks.seriouseats.com/2012/03/coffee-history-the-percolator-how-it-works-history.html
- Free, M.L. (2001, March 12). Why doesn’t stainless steel rust? Retrieved from https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/why-doesnt-stainless-stee/
- Ceramic or Glass Coffee Cups? (2015, May 16). Retrieved from https://driftaway.coffee/coffeecup/
- Stahl T, Falk S, Rohrbeck A, Georgii S, Herzog C, Wiegand A, Hotz S, Boschek R, Zorn H, Brunn H. Migration of aluminum from food contact materials to food—a health risk for consumers? Part II of III: migration of aluminum from drinking bottles and moka pots made of aluminum to beverages. Environ Sci Eur. 2017; 29(1): 18. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5388725/
- Hornbacher, A. (n.d.). Steel Versus Aluminum Weight, Strength, Cost, Malleability Comparison. Retrieved from https://www.wenzelmetalspinning.com/steel-vs-aluminum.html
- Ash, S. (2011, March 8). Science in the neighborhood: How to make really good coffee. Retrieved from https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/science-in-the-neighborhood-how-to-make-really-good-coffee/
- Regenold, S. (2015, November 4). New Look, New Direction: Coleman ‘Rebirth’ for 2016. Retrieved from https://gearjunkie.com/coleman-company-2016
- What Is Borosilicate Glass And Why Is It Better Than Regular Glass? (n.d.). Retrieved from https://shopkablo.com/blogs/the-reformist/what-is-borosilicate-glass
- How to Keep Percolators Rising to the Occasion. (1998, December 12). Retrieved from https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1998-dec-12-hm-53098-story.html