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  • Percolators - Some Of The Basic Problems With Percolator Cofee
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The word "percolator" has come to mean that special coffee pot that used to sit
on Grandma's stove and bubble away like mad all morning long. Typically they
consist of a heat proof pot that holds the water, a long tube (like a straw)
that holds a filter basket at the top. This filter is normally made of metal and
holds the coffee grounds apart from the water in the main pot. Usually fairly
oarsely ground coffee is used and a perforated lid is placed over the filter in
order to distribute the water evenly over the grounds.
As the water in the pot reached the boil, it is forced up the tube and
repeatedly spilled over the grounds in the filter basket. In this way both water
and the freshly brewed coffee drips back down into the hot water and over the
grounds. Gradually the coffee becomes stronger as the water/coffee continues to
drip over the grounds. This process continues as long as the pot is kept at the
boiling point.
Evn though we may hold special memories of percolaters, they are not a
particularly good way to make a great cup of coffee. In fact many people rank
percolator coffee right beside coffee boiled directly in the water! When it is
made in a percolater a number of things happen that produce a less than perfect
cup of coffee.
For starters, the water is overheated. Boiling water simply extracts too many of
the unwanted bitter flavours in the coffee and should be avioded if possible
(which isn't possible with a percolator). Also the coffee grounds become
overextracted by repeatedly passing already brewed coffee back over the grounds.
Finally the boiling/percolating action of the liquid tends to release many of
the desirable flavours and compounds into the air. While this does produce a
wonderful aroma of fresh coffee in the house, it can often lead to flat tasting
In the end, it is often best to avoid percolators if you can. There are other
affordable ways of brewing great coffee, even if it may mean turning your back
on wonderful aromatic memories.