What kind of coffee do you need for a Percolator?

photo of best coffee percolator taken apart with coffee grounds scattered on the counter

If you’re like most coffee lovers, you probably have a favorite roast that you love to drink and a regular brewing method. But what if you want to try something different? 

It can be tough to decide what kind of coffee to use in your percolator. Do you go with your usual dark French roast or try something new?

We’ve got you covered. Whether you’re a fan of dark, medium, or light roasts, we’ve got the perfect coffee for a percolator. Plus, we’ll even teach you how to achieve the perfect grind so that the grounds don’t fall through the holes in the grounds basket.

What is a percolator?

Before we dive into exactly what kind of coffee you need for a percolator, let’s talk about what a percolator actually is.

A percolator is a coffee brewing device that was once the primary way coffee was made in most households. It works by cycling boiling water up through a chamber of coffee grounds and then back down into the pot. This process is repeated until the coffee is brewed to the desired strength.

The percolator fell out of fashion in the early 1950s when the electric drip coffee maker was invented. However, it has made a recent comeback among coffee enthusiasts who appreciate its simplicity and the rich, full-bodied coffee it produces.

Is There a Difference Between a Percolator and a Moka Pot?

Another popular brewing device is the Moka pot. While both the percolator and the Moka pot brew coffee using boiling water, there are some key differences that lead to very different results.

The biggest difference is in how long the coffee is exposed to boiling water. With a percolator, coffee is continually exposed to boiling water until it is removed from the heat source. This allows the brewer to achieve the exact brewing strength desired, but can also lead to coffee that is over-extracted and bitter if brewed too long.

In contrast, the Moka pot only exposes coffee to boiling water for a short time before it is released into the upper chamber. This means the coffee is generally less bitter and more evenly extracted, but you lose some of the ability to customize the strength of your brew.

Do You Need to Use a Special Coffee For a Percolator?

While you don’t need special coffee for a percolator, you do need to pay attention to the grind size. The range of coffee ground sizes in store-bought coffee varies greatly and can range anywhere from 1mm to 3mm in size. Most coffee found in stores is designed for drip coffee and has a medium grind, but if you look carefully, you can find different grinds as well.

We recommend using whole-bean coffee because grinding your own beans at home will give you the most control over your coffee’s grind size.

If you’re using store-bought coffee, however, make sure to look for a coffee that is labeled as “medium” or “drip” grind.

It’s also good to know that lighter roasts, like blonde roasts, are typically ground on the finer end of the spectrum. This is because their coffee beans are less dense than darker roasts and need to be ground more finely in order to extract properly. So, if you absolutely must have a pre-ground coffee for your percolator, we suggest you go with a darker roast.

Now that you know all about coffee grind sizes let’s talk about which coffee is best for a percolator.

The Best Coffee For a Percolator

There are three main types of coffee: light, medium, and dark roast. The coffee you choose for your percolator should be based on your personal preferences. Beyond the roast type, coffees from different regions have flavors unique to their area. So, let’s take a look at a few of our favorites.

Our Favorites

Columbian – Coffee Kult Colombia

This medium-roast 100% Colombian coffee has a chocolatey aroma and a bold body with medium acidity. The coffee beans are grown in Huila’s high mountain elevations and have a clean, sugary finish. Coffee Cult is a small batch roaster that roasts its beans immediately prior to packaging to preserve their natural flavors.

If you’re looking for an easy-drinking coffee that’s both bold and smooth, this is one we highly recommend.

Kenya AA – Volcanica Coffee Company

This Kenya AA from Volcanica is another medium-roast coffee that we think is great for a percolator. It has a pleasant, vibrant acidity and rich body with notes of raspberry, cranberry, fresh-cut redwood, and alyssum-like flowers.

If you’re looking for a coffee with a little more depth of flavor, this Kenya AA is a great option.

Guatemalan – Copper Moon Guatemalan Antigua Blend

The Guatemalan Antigua blend from Copper Moon is perfect for coffee lovers who want a rich and flavorful cup of coffee. This coffee is grown at high altitudes in rich volcanic soil, then lightly roasted to bring out the coffee’s natural sweetness. The result is a coffee with notes of spice and smoky undertones, with a cocoa finish.

If you’re looking for a coffee that is both complex and well-balanced, look no further than the Guatemalan Antigua blend from Copper Moon.

Kona – Blue Horse 100% Kona

Kona coffee is coffee a special coffee only grown on the slopes of Hualalai and Mauna Loa in the North and South Kona Districts of the Big Island of Hawaii. Its rarity makes it both highly desired and costly.

This 100% whole-bean Kona coffee by Blue Horse is shade-grown, hand-picked, sun-dried, and rainwater-washed. It’s dark roasted with complex, fragrant notes of bittersweet chocolate and caramel flavor with muted acidity. These dark and slightly oily beans produce a superbly rich and full aroma with spicy afternotes. The resulting brew is a robust, round taste with a bright, vibrant, yet mild acidity and a body that feels full, even buttery on your palate.

Sumatra – Sumatra Mandheling Dark Roast Coffee, Reserve

Another favorite from Volcanica, this Sumatra Mandheling, is the only dark roast on our list.

The dark roast brings out the natural flavors of the coffee beans, resulting in a full body with chocolate and earthy flavors without being overly heavy. And since coffee beans from the Sumatra region naturally have a low-acidity, if coffee sometimes causes you stomach upset, this is definitely one to try.

Like all of Volcanica’s roasts, this coffee is certified Fair Trade, Rainforest Alliance, and Shade Grown, so not only will your morning cup taste good, but you can also feel good about drinking it.

Can You Use Regular Drip Coffee in a Percolator?

Drip coffee can be used in a percolator with a filter, but you’ll want to use a coffee that is labeled as “medium” or “drip” grind. As we mentioned before, light roasts are typically ground on the finer end of the spectrum, so we recommend using a darker roast if you’re using pre-ground coffee.

Can I Use Finely Ground Coffee in a Percolator?

While you technically can use fine ground coffee in a percolator, we don’t recommend it. Since the finely ground coffee can easily escape the percolator’s filter basket, using a fine grind in your brewer will result in coffee that is over-extracted, bitter, and sludgy.

What’s the Best Grind Size for a Percolator?

The best grind size for a percolator is a medium to coarse grind. This grind size is versatile and will work well with most coffee makers, including the percolator.

A medium grind will result in coffee that is full-flavored with a slightly thicker body. If you want a slightly weaker coffee, we recommend using a coarser grind.

Can You Make Espresso in a Percolator?

Espresso is a coffee drink that is created by using pressure to drive water through the coffee. This pressure is what creates the crema that makes espresso special. While a percolator can certainly brew strong coffee, it does not have the capability to produce the amount of pressure needed to brew actual espresso.

How to Make Coffee Using a Percolator

What You Need

All you need to brew coffee in a percolator is the brewer itself, freshly ground coffee beans, water, and a heat source (unless you’re using an electric Percolator)

How to Make Coffee in a Percolator

Grind and measure your coffee

First, you need to grind the coffee beans. We recommend using a medium to coarse grind for the best results.

Next, you’ll need to measure out the coffee. A good rule of thumb is to use 2 tablespoons (10 grams) of coffee grounds for every 6 ounces (180 ml) of water.

Prepare the percolator

Fill the percolator’s water chamber with cold water. The amount of water you’ll need will depend on the size of your percolator and how many cups of coffee you want to make.

Add the coffee grounds to the coffee basket. Make sure that the coffee basket is in place and that the valve is in the closed position.

Start heating the percolator

Place the percolator on a stovetop burner or other heat source. If you’re using an electric percolator, plug it in and turn it on.

Start heating the percolator over low heat. It’s important to start slowly so that the coffee doesn’t become bitter.

Watch the coffee percolate

As the water heats up, it will begin to travel up the tube and into the coffee basket. You’ll see the coffee begin to percolate and drip back down into the water chamber.

The coffee will continue to percolate until all of the water has been forced through the coffee grounds. This process should take about 4-5 minutes.

Discard the grounds

Once all of the water has dripped through the coffee, remove the percolator from the heat source. If you’re using an electric percolator, unplug it.

Remove the coffee basket and discard the grounds.

Pour and enjoy

Pour yourself a cup of coffee and enjoy! Remember to be careful, as the coffee and percolator will be hot. If you want to keep your coffee hot, you can leave the percolator on the heat source with the lid off.

Final Thoughts

Virtually any coffee can be used in a percolator, but we recommend using freshly ground beans and sticking to a medium roast with a medium to coarse grind size.


Does percolated coffee have more caffeine?

Usually. Coffee brewed in a percolator generally has more caffeine than coffee brewed using other methods. This is due to the fact that percolators brew coffee for a longer period of time, allowing more of the coffee’s caffeine to be extracted.

Can I make iced coffee in a percolator?

Yes, you can make iced coffee in a percolator by following the same steps as above, but adding ice to your cup before pouring in the coffee. However, if cold coffee is more you’re style we recommend making a batch of cold brew instead.

Can I use ground coffee from the grocery store in a Percolator?

As we mentioned earlier, freshly ground is best since coffee grounds that are too fine can fall through the coffee basket and into your coffee. If you don’t have a coffee grinder, we recommend using pre-ground coffee that is labeled as “coarse” or “percolator grind.”

Can I use a filter in my percolator?

Yes, you can use a coffee filter in a percolator by placing it in the coffee basket along with the coffee grounds. This will help to prevent coffee grounds from getting into your coffee. As a matter of fact, they make special filters designed specifically for percolators.

Can You Put Milk in a Percolator?

No, we don’t recommend putting milk in a percolator. Milk is dairy and will go bad if it’s heated for too long. If you want to add milk to your coffee, we recommend waiting until after the coffee has been brewed and then adding it to your cup.