Are Coffee Percolators Making A Comeback?

Don't call it a comeback. Percolators might be older technology, but they've been popping up in recent news in a big way. The first patent for a percolator was issued in 1889, says Coffee Affection, and the coffee brewing method seemed to have fallen out of popular favor — or, at least, out of fashion — a few decades ago, making way for pour-over and French press. Coffee-maker designer Chemex rolled out a sleek, minimal pour-over model to appeal to the modern brewer. Life advice platform Lifehack even lists "6 Reasons Why French Press Makes the Best Coffee."

But now, it looks like there might be a new brew sheriff in coffee town. A PureWow article outlines the 7 best percolator models for "getting the boldest brew you've ever tasted." Last month, Food & Wine praised the nostalgic appeal and enduring performance capability of the percolator: "Those who remember the strong, sometimes burnt taste of coffee from the percolators of old will be glad to know that modern versions yield better (but still bold) brews, not without the appliance's signature rhythmic pulse." The Spruce Eats calls the percolator "lightweight, great for camping, and wallet-friendly," and raves about its "ease of use, sleek design, durability, and effortless cleaning."

It looks like, despite the odds, percolators might be making a comeback. So, is the device worth all the hype?

Pros of the percolator

Percolators work by heating water (typically on a stovetop) and forcing the hot water upward into another chamber to pour over coffee grounds. Outdoor coffee gear company Coletti Coffee explains the science behind the method. As the water heats and begins to bubble, the bubbles and steam naturally rise and rain water over the grounds. It's all about convection — and it only takes 7-10 minutes until a full pot is brewed. For this reason, Coletti Coffee advocates for the percolator as a reliable, portable, and consistent manual brewing method.

The subheading to one Reviewed article in praise of the percolator tantalizes, "You won't see this vintage coffee pot in most homes..." and lauds the device as the secret to making the perfect cuppa joe. Its speedy efficiency, it says, makes the percolator a good choice for folks who need their coffee pot to work as hard as they do before rushing out the door. Its simple design also makes the percolator easy to cleanPerfectBrew says all it takes is a good soak and a little heat to wash, with some added vinegar from time to time for a deep clean. No scrubbing is necessary. And with no filters to replace, the percolator is an environmentally-friendly option for sustainability-conscious coffee lovers.

Coffee-making cons

Fans of artisanal coffee brands might want to opt for a more delicate brewing method. According to Coffee Detective, percolators can dull some of the subtler flavor notes of coffee or lose them altogether. The site shares that what the percolator lacks in nuanced taste, it makes up for in its powerhouse ability to make a good old-fashioned strong cup of coffee. Its richness is due to the percolator's fundamental design: the water is piping hot when it touches the grounds, so it can be easy to accidentally overcook or burn your coffee.

Percolators also take a bit of practice to master. Unlike the ease of simply pressing a button on a drip coffee maker, Clearly Coffee says that the percolator requires more technique and adjustment from its users. Brewers might need to play around with different grind sizes and temperatures to get a cup to their liking — although the same could also be said of pour-overs or French presses. Also, Coffee Nutty explains that the operation of a percolator makes it more prone to mess-making than other methods. Because water boils and rises through the grounds, it says, your coffee will likely spill over if you don't remove it from the heat in time.

Percolators can be a challenge, but if you're up for it, you