Brewing With a Percolator - Things Are Starting to Perk Up!

October 17, 2010

I found a mint condition stainless steel Presto Percolator and being curious about this brewing method, I took it home.  The art of perk pot brewing seems all but lost since this method has fallen out of favor amongst the coffee aficionado crowd.  Considering that these brewers can still be purchased new or can be found in any thrift store for a few bucks,someone out there must still be using these stylish devices for their morning cuppa.

Searching for the best method for perking a pot did not yield very consistent methodology.  I decided I would start with a basic recipe that has not failed me yet when water temps are high and the extraction time per liter is under 5 minutes.  This also is the same basic recipe as I would use for auto drip - take 60 grams fresh, good quality beans ground (auto drip setting for the particle size) with my Baratza Maestro, 1000 mL  clear cold water, a quality filter (in this instance it is a Melitta perk filter that covers both the top and bottom of the grounds), and some faith. 

The coffee does get hot while brewing.  I measure 190 F in the first cup poured just after the perking completes - but I can not say the taste seems  burnt or over extracted.  The steam from the spout is dark but not cloudy, and a handy thermal carafe takes care of holding the temperature nicely (it is a spare from a Krups KMF5 - pours nice with no leaking).  I suspect the average auto drip will make an inferior cup considering not many can match both the speed and brewing temperature of this unit.

The coffee I chose was a Peruvian bean taken full city roast.  My tasting notes for this coffee using a manual pour over method reveal a pleasing bright tingle and a hint ofpeach sweetness in the finish. The mouth feel is medium light and velvety showing nice balance as well. As it cools the tingle remains and the finish heads towards cocoa with the slightest astringency popping up, but not so strong as to hurt the overall taste. 

The Presto Percolator maintains the brightness of this cup as well as it's delicate body.  I am not ready to retire my press pot or other brewing gear just yet, but I could see using this brewing method more often with lighter roast floral/citrusy East African or Amazonian beans since higher brewing temperatures allow this type of coffee to shine.


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