TOPS Rapid Brew Stovetop Coffee Percolator Review
While there are machines that make coffee at the click of a button, we think that enjoying the brewing process is an important part of a satisfying cuppa and that sometimes simple traditions are actually the best ones.
If you were thinking the same, you might enjoy using the TOPS Rapid Brew Percolator for your morning brew. The TOPS Percolator is a stylish Moka pot that blends traditional elements and a sleek modern design. Could it be your next (or perhaps first) stovetop coffee percolator?
SUMMARY: The TOPS Rapid Brew Stovetop Coffee Percolator
- 3 different sizes to choose from (6, 9 or 12 cups)
- Made of high-quality 18/8 stainless steel with Permawood handle
- Stylish design and elegant look
The percolating process allows for strength control, and as the device does not require electricity, it’s ideal for camping and travel in general.– Coffee Gear Spy
The TOPS Rapid Brew Stovetop Percolator Review
While we are great believers in the old saying, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” that doesn’t mean we can't add some spice or a modern twist to an age-old classic, right? Whether or not you agree, this is the philosophy behind the updated design of the TOPS Rapid Brew Stovetop Percolator.
Ease of Use – 5/5
Like any Moka pot, this percolator is incredibly easy to use: just fill the bottom chamber with water, add your favourite coffee grounds into the filter, and place it on your stovetop. (1) In 5 to 8 minutes, you’ll hear the best sound in the world (aka the bubbling sound of your coffee percolating through the top of the coffee maker).
Since it doesn’t require any electricity, this model is perfect for traveling and camping, too: you can place it on a portable stovetop or even on a BBQ grill.
Brew Capacity – 5/5
Before you get excited and impulse-buy your first Moka pot, you have to know that the coffee Moka pots make are strong, but they are not exactly what we can call true espresso. This is because they can’t reach the 9 bar pressure required for espresso (2), but their coffee is still much stronger and concentrated than drip coffee.
So, to sum up: there are a lot of ways to manipulate espresso recipes, including changing brew time, grind size, water temperature, pressure, and more. But for espresso, you want a fine grind, and nine bars is generally considered the magic number for pressure.
So if an espresso-esque brew is what you are looking for, this brewer will serve you well. In general, percolators are an excellent option for lovers of strong tasting coffee.
This Moka pot brews using the traditional percolating process: the fine openings in the filter basket and the filter at the base of the top coffee chamber guarantee optimum extraction for consistently rich, flavourful coffee. The downside of this method is that it does not allow you to program particular details of the extraction process as you would with a modern semi-automatic espresso machine. Nevertheless, these old school brewers possess the power to create a great hybrid between a drip/pour over brew and classic espresso.
As for its volume, you can choose from three different sizes, the 6, 9, or 12-cup. No matter how many cups of coffee you tend to make at once, this percolator has you covered. Remember, you can use Moka coffee as an espresso substitute in lattes, cappuccinos, and other frothy drinks!
Coffee Flavour – 3/5
Coffee percolators are an old-school brewing method that have largely fallen out of favour among modern specialty coffee lovers. However, they maintain an avid fanbase who loves their particular style of coffee.
TOPS Rapid Brew produces a coffee that is extra hot and extra strong. This is not the brewer of choice for your subtly flavoured light roast beans, showcasing notes of florals and herbs. Pull out the TOPS percolator when you want to be smacked over the head with medium or dark roast chocolate and nut flavours. This brew is bold, full-bodied, and mouth-coating, but it can run a tad close to bitter.
Build Quality – 4/5
Like the Cuisinox Roma, this model showcases TOPS’ unique take on the traditional Moka pot: losing the traditional octagonal style in favour of a sleek round finish. This new take on a traditional favourite actually resembles a teapot more than a coffee pot.
It’s made of high-lustre heavy gauge 18/8 stainless steel, a superb choice as this material doesn’t affect the taste of coffee, unlike some cheaper aluminium models. (3) It also has a Permawood handle that makes it easy to use this stovetop coffee percolator even when it’s hot, and a clear glass cover knob, so you can peek inside to check the brewing process. The filter is made with mesh and sturdy plastic, and is sure to last a good while and keep annoying fines out of your coffee.
The fluted basket coffee filter is made of fine polyester mesh and you’ll be able to use it for years.
Despite its updated design, the lid is slightly flimsy–perhaps a result of the Chinese, rather than Italian, manufacturing. Though this hiccup can be annoying, we found that the coffee pot is nevertheless built to last and deliver excellent coffee.
Cleaning and Maintenance – 5/5
The TOPS stovetop coffee percolator stainless steel is very easy to clean and maintain (phew). It's even dishwasher safe. Since it features a reusable filter, you won’t have to worry about stocking paper ones, unlike with other types of coffee makers.
As for the cleaning, you can hand wash both its metal and plastic parts or chuck them in a dishwasher. Like with any other coffee brewer, we also recommend descaling it every few months, depending on the hardness levels of your water.
Keeping your percolator clean is vital to maintaining the power and pressure for effective extraction–if the filter is blocked, the steam won't be able to move through the coffee maker as easily, resulting in a less satisfying cup of coffee.
Value for Money – 4/5
All the different sizes of this Moka pot model are good value for money, though it is more expensive to buy in the UK compared to other countries. It doesn’t require any special equipment for use or maintenance, this is a one-time purchase that will pay for itself in no time.
All that is left to brew deliciously strong coffee is to get the right just-coarser-than-espresso grind. This is easy and quick to achieve with an electric/power or manual burr grinder. Check out our run-down of all the best options to find the right grinder for you and start enjoying your coffee to the fullest.
Things we liked:
- Strong, espresso-style coffee
- Durable stainless steel construction
- Available in 3 sizes
Things we didn't like:
- Flimsy lid
- Cleaning can be tiresome
Do Not Buy the TOPS Rapid Brew If…
You are after the traditional Moka pot – If you died a little inside when we mentioned that this percolator is made in China and lost the iconic Italian design, don’t worry: we have an alternative for you. The Bialetti espresso maker is as iconic as it can get, as it’s manufactured in Italy by the company that invented the percolator in the first place in 1933. Perfect for espresso coffee lovers who want to show off their dolce vita!
You want an electric Moka pot – Sure, a classic percolator or Moka pot sounds nice, but if ease of use is your priority, then the DeLonghi Alicia EMK6 might be a better option for you. This coffee maker is a combination of the Moka pot and an electric kettle, which makes it simple and easier to use.
You want real-deal espresso – As we mentioned before, percolators lack the required power and pressure to make ‘real’ espresso. If you’re after the kind of coffee shot that you’d get from a coffee house or an Italian bar but don’t want to compromise too much on the price, then we think that a budget-friendly espresso machine like the De'Longhi EC155 Bar Pump may meet your needs. The De'Longhi EC155 offers the opportunity to program some of the brewing variables like pressure and water temperature, giving you more control over your coffee.
With its unique stainless steel design and round shape, the TOPS Rapid Brew adds modern elements to the traditional Italian Moka pot. While it’s not actually manufactured in Italy, the birthplace of espresso and Moka pots, it’s made with high-quality materials and built to last. You’re also bound to find the perfect size for your coffee needs, given the 3 different size options!
We don’t think that the French press is better than the Moka pot or vice versa: they are two very different coffee makers, as the former relies on immersion brewing and steeping while the latter operates through pressure. The French press gives you a more robust and full-bodied cup of coffee and the percolator is famous for a stronger espresso-style coffee, so it all depends on your preferences. You can find out more about the differences between the two in our Moka Pot vs French Press article.
For a Moka pot, you should use coffee that is slightly coarser than espresso grounds but finer than what you would use for a drip coffee maker. For any lingering questions about grind size, check out the ultimate grind size chart.
Yes, we recommend that you descale your Moka pot to ensure its longevity and get the very best coffee flavour. In order to descale a Moka pot, you must simply fill up the boiler with a solution made of vinegar, lemon juice and water, letting it rest for an hour or two. Then pour out some of the liquid to ensure that the remaining solution is below the valve, and brew it as you would with normal coffee. This cleaning technique works for nearly all percolators, so apply it to any model to keep your coffee perking right and tasting good.
- Bialetti Moka Pot. Preparation Guide. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://blog.bluebottlecoffee.com/posts/bialetti-moka-pot
- Killbride, D. (2017, June 8). Moka Pot VS Espresso Machine: Which Should You Buy? Retrieved from https://perfectdailygrind.com/2017/06/how-does-pressure-affect-espresso-quality/
- Yapp, G. (n.d.). Health Risks of Aluminum Coffee Makers. Retrieved from https://www.hunker.com/12003944/health-risks-of-aluminum-coffee-makers