The best coffee for percolators 2018

Percolators may have fallen out of favour in recent years, but with the right method and, most importantly of all, the right coffee, they can make a brew that hits the spot

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You might have thrown around the word “percolate” in conversation before but not necessarily known what it means when it comes to your brew, let alone how to go about finding the best coffee for percolator brewing – not to fret, we’re here to help. Basically, a percolator forces hot water through a filter basket holding coffee grounds, activated by boiling or an internal pump depending on the type of percolator you’re working with. This will usually be a moka pot that sits on the hob, or a jug design with its own hot plate.

In terms of operation, that’s nearly all there is to it. There’s only one main requirement for percolator brewing that doesn’t come down to taste, and that’s the grind. As the filters in percolators aren’t as fine as those in other coffee-preparing gadgets, you’ll want coarse coffee grounds with proper chunks of bean to avoid grainy bits getting through into the coffee, resulting in an unpleasantly silty sip. Our list of the best coffees for percolating comprises ready-ground coffees (all coarse, of course) and whole beans, which, if you’re lucky enough to have a coffee bean grinder at home, can be ground on demand for a fresher taste.

When it does come to matters of taste, some connoisseurs recommend only medium roast beans for use in a percolator, finding that light roasts can lose their flavour and dark roasts can take on extra bitterness thanks to the brewing method. However, as coffee is a deeply personal thing with a deeply personal set of preferences attached, we’ve included a selection of light, medium and dark roasts for you to choose from. So for example, if you like your coffee to have a kick like a mule, surprisingly don’t go for Kicking Horse’s Hola Light, but for something like Pelican Rouge’s Barista Coffee Blend; if you like a smooth cup with no bitterness that won’t keep you up ‘til the wee hours with the shakes, go for something like Dallmayr Prodomo.

Whatever you choose, just make sure to remember a few little things that’ll make that stovetop-brewed cup better, not bitter: match the amount of water you’re using to the amount of coffee so it’s too weak or strong, don’t go overboard on the grounds (especially if using a dark roast), and heat the water slowly on a low to medium heat rather than on full blast. Happy sipping!

The best coffee for percolators

1. Pelican Rouge Barista Coffee Blend

Two types of beans for twice the coffee-shop flavour

Specifications
Best for: Barista-quality coffee
Roast: Dark
Beans: Blend
Type: Whole bean
Reasons to buy
+Excellent, balanced blend+Nice and strong
Reasons to avoid
-May be a bit bitter for some

While Robusta beans have a little bit a of a rep for being used in lower-quality instant coffee, they can actually be used to great effect to impart a dark kick to a coffee that otherwise runs the risk of being unstructured. This Pelican Rouge coffee blends Arabica and Robusta into a sweet, dark roast with nutty and caramel notes from the former, and a powerfully spicy kick from the latter. Its strength makes it perfect for espressos, and reviewers have commented that it’s a lovely everyday roast.

Starbucks Espresso Blend Whole Coffee Beans

2. Starbucks Espresso Blend Whole Coffee Beans

For those who like their coffee strong, dark and rich

Specifications
Best for: Rich, strong taste
Roast: Dark
Beans: Arabica
Type: Whole bean
Reasons to buy
+Rich, strong cup+Less bitter than many dark roasts
Reasons to avoid
-No guarantees it’ll taste the same as the chain

If you can’t get enough of that wonderful Starbucks stuff, but only tend to treat yourself occasionally or on your commute, you might be delighted to hear that you can recapture a little bit of that magic in your own kitchen with these Starbucks coffee beans. Dark roasted for oodles of flavour, reviewers agreed these beans make a mean cup of coffee: deep, rich and strong but well-rounded with it, without the bitterness you can sometimes expect from a dark roast. 

Dallmayr Prodomo Original German Roast Ground Coffee

3. Dallmayr Prodomo Original German Roast Ground Coffee

Straightforwardly smooth German coffee, with a lighter touch than you might expect

Specifications
Best for: Smooth taste
Roast: Medium
Beans: Arabica
Type: Coarse ground
Reasons to buy
+Good in an americano+Very economical
Reasons to avoid
- Not so much for espresso 

In the pursuit of the perfect cup of coffee, Germany might not be the first place you’d think to turn, but lovers of Dallmayr Prodomo have found that it’s a mistake to dismiss it. Roasted long and slow to a medium darkness, drinkers say it’s full-bodied yet smooth enough to be drunk black without a hit of bitterness. Many also found it a pleasant surprise that they didn’t have to use much coffee to get a full-flavoured cup, making it more economical than most. 

Illy Medium Roast Whole Bean

4. Illy Medium Roast Whole Bean

Simply bellissima – or should that be b-illy-simma?

Specifications
Best for: Espresso
Roast: Medium
Beans: Arabica
Type: Whole Bean
Reasons to buy
+Fresh-tasting+Great for espresso
Reasons to avoid
-Quite pricey 

Roasted to medium perfection in Italy, where they certainly know their way around a coffee bean, these Illy beans might be a bit on the pricier side, but they’re fantastic as a treat on a Sunday morning. Packed in nitrogen for longevity, tasters found they maintained that fresh taste longer than most pre-roasted beans, and that the full flavour they got from the freshly ground beans made them perfect for espresso-based drinks, whether straight or in a flat white or latte.

Coffee Masters Triple Certified Organic

5. Coffee Masters Triple Certified Organic

A beautiful balancing act of flavoursome and eco-conscious

Specifications
Best for: Organic
Roast: Medium
Beans: Arabica
Type: Whole bean
Reasons to buy
+Organic and Fairtrade+Balanced taste
Reasons to avoid
- Needs quite a long brewing time

Fairtrade, organic, and Rainforest Alliance certified, these are the ultimate virtuous beans. Plus, reviewers rated them across the board: that’s what we call a win-win. Not weak and watery, but not so strong it’ll keep you up for days; not too acidic, and well-rounded, drinkers loved that this organic coffee didn’t compromise on taste or affordability, and came out of the stovetop maker a good, rich colour. 

Kicking Horse Coffee Organic Fairtrade Ground Coffee Hola Light Roast

6. Kicking Horse Coffee Organic Fairtrade Ground Coffee Hola Light Roast

Strong enough to stand up to the pressures of the pot, but with a lovely light taste

Specifications
Best for: Light flavour
Roast: Light
Beans: Arabica
Type: Coarse ground
Reasons to buy
+Very smooth+No bitter aftertaste
Reasons to avoid
-A little oily – may cause some buildup in grinder

Perhaps a bit of a misnomer, given its gentle nature, this light roast ground coffee is an everyday favourite among reviewers. One mentioned that as Kicking Horse tend to be a little heavy-handed with their roasting, this tastes like something between a light and a medium roast, resulting in a full-flavoured and smooth cup without the bitterness that would be present after more time in the roaster. 

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