Helping you find the best electric coffee percolator

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An electric coffee percolator can help extract the bold and comforting flavors from coffee beans. This is only one method of many for brewing coffee, but it is relatively hassle-free, making it a great choice for coffee lovers.

With so many different models on the market, we’re going to break down everything you need to know to choose the best electric coffee percolator for you.

But first, a quick look at our top choice, the Presto 12-Cup Stainless Steel Coffee Maker:

What is a percolator?

A percolator is essentially a fancy pot that is made especially for brewing coffee. It is different from the more common household coffee maker, which is a drip coffee maker. With a drip machine, water seeps down through the coffee grounds in the filter basket and drips into the coffee pot as coffee. It’s a one-way trip.

A percolator uses a slightly different method to extract coffee flavor, cycling the coffee through the coffee grounds over and over again.

Percolators come in different sizes and can be powered by different means. There are stove percolators, electric percolators and even ones that can be heated on a campfire.

Coffee percolator on a camping stove
Percolators are quite popular with campers. (© Brian Gautreau | Creative Commons)

Types of percolators

The various types of coffee percolators are defined by the way the water passes through the grounds. The two main types are the gravity coffee percolator and the pressure coffee percolator. Each has its advantages and disadvantages.

Gravity coffee percolator

A gravity coffee percolator relies on the traditional method that has been used for many generations. As the name suggests, the percolator uses gravity to trickle the water down and extract flavor from the coffee. When the water boils it moves up through the tube. It then spreads out over top of the coffee layer. The water trickles down evenly on the bed of coffee grounds. Gravity allows the liquid to pass through the permeable layer and the cycle begins again.

With a gravity percolator, you have to keep a few things in mind.

You need to keep an eye on the percolator. You don’t want the cycle to continue forever, because eventually you’ll be running fully brewed coffee through the grounds and you can actually extract too much. The flavor of the coffee could be ruined by bitterness or harshness. (The same thing can happen if you brew with water that’s too hot.)

Before you pour your perfect cup of coffee, be sure to remove the filter basket and stem. A lot of people forget, and and it can result in coffee grounds spilling into your coffee right before your pour it.

When done right, a gravity percolator can produce a strong cup with bursting aroma.

Pressure coffee percolator

A pressure coffee percolator is the other type of percolator. It’s more commonly referred to as a moka pot. Since it does not actually involve any percolating, the term “percolator” isn’t exactly correct but it still gets used.

Moka pot on a stove
A pressure percolator is better known as a moka pot.

This type of pot is built not too differently from a gravity percolator, but it uses a different brewing action. The inside is very similar: It has a bottom water layer, a top layer of coffee grounds, and a vertical tube. The main difference is that there is also a chamber above the coffee grounds.

When the water boils, the water turns to steam that rises up the tube and through the coffee grounds. It turns to coffee as it passes through the grounds under pressure, then continues up a second tube as coffee before spilling into the top chamber that holds the brewed coffee.

It’s the pressure created by the heat that allows strong flavors to be extracted from the coffee.

Heat sources

Coffee percolators can be powered by different heating sources. Electric percolators, of course, use electricity. They usually have additional features and are the most convenient to use. With the push of a button you can brew your coffee without having to pay too much attention. These are the models we’ll be comparing in this post:

Best electric coffee percolators at a glance

Electric coffee percolators typically take around 7-10 minutes to brew depending on the capacity.

A great advantage of an electric percolator is that once the coffee is brewed, it can be kept at a certain temperature until you’re ready to drink it. This is great if you have busy mornings and can’t be bothered to constantly check your coffee, or drink it right away. The downside is that it does need to be plugged in.

Other percolators can be powered from the heat on your stovetop or even a campfire. These are great if you want a versatile option that can be used practically anywhere. You can make a great cup of coffee even on a camping trip.

How does a percolator work?

The work “percolate” means to filter through a porous surface. This is exactly what a coffee percolator does. The coffee is a result of the water percolating through the coffee grounds held by a filter.

The coffee percolator features two distinct layers. The top layer holds the ground coffee resting in a permeable filter. The bottom layer holds the water—at least in the beginning.

From the outside, a coffee percolator just looks like a regular kettle or pot. But inside there is a vertical tube that carries the boiling water up to where the coffee grounds sit. The water emerges from the tube and spreads out across a metal plate that drips it onto the coffee grounds.

Diagram of an electric coffee percolator in cross-section
© UnknownFerret | Creative Commons

After the water passes through the coffee grounds, it drips back down into the pot having dissolved some of the coffee, then shoots up again. By repeating this cycle, the percolator extracts flavor from the coffee gradually and the coffee becomes stronger and stronger until the desired taste is reached.

While a drip coffee maker runs water through only once, a percolator completes this cycle several times. This typically results in bolder flavors with less nuance.

Why should you buy a percolator?

Coffee taste

The most important quality of a coffee percolator is the taste of the coffee. Every method of brewing coffeemproduces subtle differences in the overall taste. While there are pros and cons for each method and each coffee maker, many people—especially those who like big, bold coffee taste—believe coffee percolators produce a superior taste. It’s a fairly traditional way to brew coffee, and it has stuck around for good reason.

Standalone device with its own filter

When you have an electric percolator, the only other things you need are water and coffee grounds. There’s no separate carafe, and no need to buy coffee filters separately.

Compact

A coffee percolator doesn’t take up much space. Other devices like a drip coffee maker or fancy pod machine will likely take up more space in your kitchen. Another great thing about the compact size is that you can take it anywhere.

Things to consider

There are many factors to consider before choosing your coffee percolator, since they do offer a wide variety of features. Some things to keep in mind include:

  • how you plan to use it
  • how many people you are serving
  • your budget

Make sure the heat source power methods suits your way of life. Some people have time in the mornings to heat up their percolators on the stove and keep an eye on them as the coffee brews. Others can’t be bothered to do much more than push a button and get the kids ready for school before pouring their coffee in a to-go mug.

The option you choose will depend on how much time you have and where you plan to use it. Even though stovetop percolators require a bit more work, they’re a great option for those who want to use it in many different settings, including camping. Electric percolators require a power source and a flat surface. They are more convenient and have added features to keep your coffee at the desired temperature.

Another factor to consider is the capacity of your pot. Some are made for one or two people while others could be used at a big family dinner or in an office setting.

There are a wide variety of different options to choose from.

Best electric coffee percolators in detail

1. Presto 12-cup Stainless Steel Coffee Maker

Presto 02811 12-Cup Stainless Steel Coffee MakerCheck availability

The Presto 12-Cup Coffee Percolator is a high-quality device that can fuel the entire family or a small office (if you want to share). The stainless steel construction makes it easy to clean and easy to heat up quickly—in as fast as a minute. If you are as impatient as I am, this is definitely a feature to note. The Presto has a simple and elegant kettle design that is a pleasure to use. When the coffee is ready to be served, a red indicator lights up. The product also keeps your coffee warm until you are ready to drink it.

Pros:

  • Easy to clean
  • Super fast coffee brewing
  • Keeps the coffee piping hot

Cons:

  • Basket holes can get plugged up
  • Vertical tube can be difficult to align properly

2. West Bend 12-cup Electric Coffee Percolator

West Bend 54159 Classic Stainless Steel Electric Coffee Percolator with Heat Resistant Handle and Base Features Detachable Cord, 12-cup, SilverCheck availability

This West Bend Electric Coffee Percolator also has a 12-cup capacity that can serve you and many others. The stainless steel body helps keep your coffee warm whenever you may need it. It comes with a durable heat-resistant handle that keeps you and your little ones safe in case they happen to touch anything. The handle is also equipped with a convenient level indicator, letting you know when you are running out of coffee. The simple design is easy to use and looks great on the counter. This percolator also comes with an indicator light to let you know when the coffee is ready.

Pros:

  • Stronger heating power
  • Stays hot all day
  • Stainless steel construction leaves no chemical taste

Cons:

  • Requires a finer grind than most percolators
  • Basket can be hard to clean
  • Short power cord
  • A little bit noisy

3. Farberware 2-4 cup Stainless Steel Percolator

Farberware 2-4-Cup Percolator, Stainless Steel, FCP240Check availability

This Farberware 2-4 Cup Percolator is also made of quality stainless steel that maintains a consistent brewing speed for those busy mornings. The product also features an automatic keep warm mode that keeps your coffee at the desired temperature. It has a sage cool-touch handle and lid knob for safe handling. This percolator works quickly and is able to brew a cup every minute. The smaller size is great for individual use or to share with another person. This percolator works quickly to bring you a quality cup of coffee.

Pros:

  • Heats up quickly
  • Keeps coffee warm automatically

Cons:

  • Not good for groups
  • Cord is a bit short
  • Makes a noise while operating

4. De’Longhi EMK6 6-cup Stainless Steel Electric Percolator

DELONGHI EMK6 Espresso, 6 cups, Stainless SteelCheck availability

This De’Longhi percolator is actually a moka pot, but it sits on a powered base to heat up. It has a 6-cup capacity (small cups) that can be great for a small gathering or just for yourself. It brews just like a traditional moka pot with the added convenience of electricity. It won’t burn or overflow, as the product comes with an automatic shut-off. The device also comes with a keep-warm function that lets you enjoy your coffee whenever you like. It features a transparent design that lets you watch your coffee do its thing. It’s also easy to clean, with stainless steel construction. If you love the idea of a traditional moka pot but can’t be bothered to monitor it, this is a great option for you.

Pros:

  • Classic moka pot design
  • Automatic shut-off to prevent overbrewing
  • Includes a keep-warm function

Cons:

  • Plastic upper compartment
  • 6-cup capacity may not be enough
  • Keep-warm function has 30-minute limit

5. Moss & Stone 10-cup Electric Coffee Percolator

Moss & Stone Electric Coffee Percolator Copper Body with Stainless Steel Lids Coffee Maker | Percolator Electric Pot - 10 Cups (Copper)Check availability

This Moss & Stone Electric Coffee Percolator has a 10-cup capacity that is great for a small office setting. It not only looks great with its sleek design and copper color , it also produces a quality cup of coffee (or 10). The top is glass so you can easily monitor when you need to make another pot of coffee. The copper construction helps the pot heat up quickly while staying warm for you to enjoy. It also brews quite quickly for those mornings when you’re in a bit of a rush. This is a great option for those who want to show off their coffee pot and share the superior taste of percolated coffee.

Pros:

  • Holds coffee at perfect temperature
  • Easy to clean
  • Brews quickly

Cons:

  • Tube requires some care to fit properly
  • Does not automatically shut off
  • Requires a medium grind

The bottom line is, if you’re looking for big, bold taste and plenty of convenience, an electric percolator could be perfect for you. There are many options on the market to fit your needs, in different sizes and styles. This traditional method of brewing coffee provides a superior taste that will not disappoint. We hope our guide encourages you to explore the percolating method of coffee brewing.

Image at top: Nan Palmero | Creative Commons