How To Use A Percolator To Brew Coffee

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A couple of years ago our electric coffee maker died. Knowing that we wanted to transition to more off-grid living, we decided to replace it with a non-electric percolator. I had never in my life even seen a percolator before then, much less did I know how to use one. But as with most things that have come with this lifestyle I was game for trying something different.

For less than twenty bucks I ordered a well-reviewed Farberware Stainless Steel 8-Cup Percolator. We love it. In the beginning, there was much trial and error as we got used to the new contraption, and several batches of burnt coffee to dump out before we figured out exactly how to use it. Mainly, it was a matter of determining how hot to keep the pot and how long to allow it to percolate. Now that we’ve got it down pat, we wouldn’t go back to an old drip machine.

Percolators can be used on electric stove tops, on a hot wood stove, on a rocket stove, or over an open camp fire. Pretty much any heat source hot enough to bring water to a boil can percolate a cup of coffee.


Most days I still make our coffee on the electric stove, though it’s nice to know I can brew a batch without power if I wanted to or needed to.

For those of you who have no idea how to use a percolator to brew coffee, I thought I’d show you step by step how it works.

How To Use A Percolator To Brew Coffee
(with or without electricity!)

How To Use a Percolator To Brew Coffee |

This is our percolator pot and all of its pieces. All percolators look pretty much the same, although some are electric and plug directly into an outlet. The percolator basket is assembled, filled with coffee, and then inserted into the pot to brew. I appreciate how easy it is to take apart to wash, and that there aren’t any pieces to burn out, malfunction, or otherwise need replacing over time.

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This is the percolator basket and lid.

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To brew a pot of coffee, first you need to add coffee grounds to the percolator basket. Add about 1-2 Tbsp coffee grounds per cup you want to brew, adjusting to suit your taste. I don’t even measure the grounds out now, I just know approx. where I need to fill the basket for a full pot of coffee.

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Put the spring on the stem, then place the filled basket on the stem as well. As shown.

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Place the lid on the percolator basket.

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Fill the pot with enough water to brew the desired amount of cups.

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Place the assembled unit inside the pot.

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Make sure it’s centered in the pot so the lid can fit over it.

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Place the lid on the pot.

Then turn the heat up to high to bring the water to a boil.

If you’re cooking over a wood stove or a fire you may need to add more wood to get it nice and hot in order to bring the water to a hard rolling boil.

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You’ll be able to see the water boiling up through the clear cap on the lid. Once you see that it has begun to percolate…

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Turn the heat down to medium and set the timer for 5 minutes. (The heat and time may need to be adjusted depending on your heat source.)

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Next, pour your freshly brewed coffee into your favorite mug and enjoy! We love to sweeten our coffee with honey and milk.

And that’s it! Not so bad, huh?

In case you need something to dance to while you brew your first cup… hahaha!

About Kendra 1117 Articles
A city girl learning to homestead on an acre of land in the country. Wife and homeschooling mother of four. Enjoying life, and everything that has to do with self sufficient living.


  1. Kendra,

    Thank you for this post! I have never used a percolater to brew coffee, but always wanted to know how. I never realized that they sold ones that work right on your stove top. Definitely going to look into getting one!

  2. My husband & I returned to a stove-top percolator about 4 years ago. We had forgotten how good tasting and “hot” coffee really was. Something I learned years ago was to never scour out the inside of your pot, rise- yes, scrub-never. I tried to find out “why” and remember seeing it in a old cowboy movie (John Wayne I think). Couldn’t find anything else on it but if it’s okay with John Wayne then it’s okay with me. I guess it’s like seasoning a cast iron skillet. I also love being freed from filters. I just wait a minute after I turn the flame off and the few grounds settle to the bottom. When camping we made “Cowboy Coffee” and just added the grounds to the hot water and stirred till dark. When done we would sprinkle a dash of salt on the top and that caused the grounds to settle to the bottom. Cheers!

  3. We love perked coffee. Before we moved off grid we practiced and it became a routine habit.
    One thing we do to save propane is to have the pot with the water in it sitting on the woodstove, then it is very close to perking when we put it on the propane stove.
    We love strong coffee and perk for 8 minutes. 🙂

  4. A drip, the original three piece drip coffee pot that you just pour boiling water through, is even better. It is WHY the new electric “drip” pots came to be. NEVER bitter – which a too-long perked pot can be.

    Both perked and drip coffee needs to be reheated later in the day for that second cup. We keep a little tin pot for that – on any kind of fire.

    • I have used a non-electric dripolator for 50 years. I boil the water in my teakettle, then pour it into the top of the dripolator. Three minutes later I have perfect coffee! I use half a cup of coffee grounds to make 3 1/2 mugs of coffee (I like it fairly strong since I use sugar and cream). I make the best coffee around! Of course, that’s because I have fantastic mountain spring water here on our farm. I can use my dripolator and teakettle on my electric stove, or in emergencies on the propane heater or the woodstove. Just so much better.

  5. Perked coffee is so good made at home on the range or over a campfire. What’s nice is, there are filters available for a percolator. This helps cut down on any grounds. There’s just nothing any better than a good cup of coffee to meet the day.

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