Are percolator coffee pots too old-fashioned?

December 28, 2020

coffee-potThis battered and worn Revere Ware  copper bottomed percolator sat on my mother’s stovetop for as long as I can remember. Now, it looks vintage and it IS vintage.

As is the sound of coffee perking. How many of you remember this distinctive Maxwell House TV ad from the 1950s? That little perking song is such an earworm!

Maybe there was a time when my mom’s pot perked regular instead of decaf. I can’t remember, since decaf was the coffee of choice as she got older. But the pot was such a fixture in her kitchen that I had to have it when we cleaned out the house after she died.

Right now it lives on a shelf in my San Jose home office. I haven’t made coffee in it–I just like to look at it.

I came up in the Mr. Coffee era, so my own coffee pots have always been drip pots. Electric, of course. But in my own homes, we never heard the cheery sound of coffee perking.

However, when we visited my sister-in-love in Rochester, she’d perk coffee for us in an electric Farberware pot. I really did love her coffee. So I knew that I’d give a percolator a try in our second home in Rochester.

In August, as i waited for this house to be completed,  I bought an electric percolator. We’ve been making coffee in it every morning since October 22. The verdict? We like the coffee it makes much better than that from any drip pot we’ve ever owned and it is certainly MUCH faster. We have a full pot of perfect coffee in less than 8 minutes. Our drip pots lag that by a long shot and as they age they are even slower. Plus the coffee in our drip pots are quickly exposed to air and get bitter after just a few minutes. Not true of perked coffee, in a largely air-tight percolator.

We’ve become converts to perked coffee and I expect to try mother’s stovetop pot (for the heck of it)  as soon as I get home. Which we hope will be in March, Covid willing. We’ll end up buying another electric percolator, though.

Here’s the electric percolator I bought this past summer in case you’d like to know or even get one, yourself.

And I’d love to know where you sit on percolators vs. drip coffeemakers.

Let me know what you think in the Comments.

9 comments on “Are percolator coffee pots too old-fashioned?
  1. Diane says:

    I’ve never been a coffee drinker, though I do devour any of the ‘coffee’ flavoured chocolates that come into our house! But the smell of percolating coffee and watching that happy little ‘bubble’ brings back such sweet, tender memories! When we’d go on our 4-H tours, the whole club would inevitably end up at one of the Hungarian (arguably the best cooks in the world!) houses for lunch. The high point of the day! Delicious food. Good friends. And that wonderful smell of percolating coffee the minute you walked in the door. I sometimes walk down the coffee aisle in the store and breathe deep. And remember…
    Somehow, those newer-fangled devices just don’t seem as…romantic! 😉

  2. Yes, my grandmother used to have a percolator and Chock Full o Nuts was my favorite brand of coffee.

  3. Alana says:

    My mother used a percolator. I only had her iced coffee – for some reason back in the 50’s it was OK for children to drink iced coffee – at least in my mother’s circle – but not hot. My brother in law and his wife still use a percolator. I have to admit that I am not fond of their coffee. And I do remember Chock Full O Nuts, the Heavenly Coffee. I used to eat in their New York City restaurants (years ago) from time to time.

  4. If you want to make the best of your coffee grounds, stove top percolators make a superior cup of coffee. After many decades of European travel, I always wondered why their coffee is so much better tasting compared to ours. I finally learned, it’s because they use hotter water, just below boiling. I used an Italian stove top espresso maker called a moka when I rented an apt in Florence [because there was no electric coffee maker option]. Thank goodness for a YouTube tutorial to learn how to use it and to my surprise, it made great espresso for latte’s. When I returned home, I talked to my local coffee roaster who confirmed, coffee grounds need water just below boiling to get the rich tasting oils and flavor out of grounds. However, USA electric coffee makers are restricted by law and only allowed to get hot water up to 195 degrees in commercially sold drip coffee makers. The sweet spot for a great cup of coffee is brewed at 195-205, therefore, the electric makers just miss the mark. After the Italy trip a decade ago, I gave my electric drip coffee maker the boot and only use a moka. When making larger quantities I also have a French press which yields a comparatively great tasting result. So please consider dusting off the vintage stovetop percolator and brew yourself a great cup of coffee when you get back to SJ … moms always know best ?

  5. Nancy Hummel says:

    I love your memories of perking coffee and my memories ( all of us ) being told that coffee would “stunt growth”. Hilarious.

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