If you’re a big fan of the percolator brewing method, you’ve probably wondered what types of coffee will work best. Percolators are simple to use and produce a great, strong cup of coffee. Not as delicate as an espresso maker and with a slight tendency toward bitterness, the percolator is best suited to a flavorful, fresh medium roast.
There are a lot of coffee brands out there, and you may not immediately be able to tell if they’ll suit your percolator. We put together this guide to 2020’s seven best coffees for percolators to save you the time and money required to test them yourself. Our thorough reviews compare important features like price, roast, flavor, freshness, and origin to help you find your new favorite coffee brand.
|Kicking Horse Coffee 'Three Sisters'|
|Fresh Roasted Coffee LLC Costa Rica Tarrazu Coffee||Medium||4.70/5|
|Koffee Kult ||Medium||4.55/5|
|Kicking Horse Coffee 'Hola'|
(Best Ground Coffee Pick)
|Volcanica Guatemala Coffee Antigua||Light||4.35/5|
Our top choice, from Canada-based roaster Kicking Horse Coffee, is the medium roast, whole bean Three Sisters. This delicious coffee boasts a rich, smooth flavor with notes of chocolate and fruit. The flavor is light and well-balanced without tending toward any bitterness.
Three Sisters is made from beans grown in Indonesia and Central and South America. It’s certified Organic, Fair Trade, and Kosher. Sold in a 2.2-pound bag, this gourmet coffee is on the pricier side. We did find some issues with freshness when ordering through Amazon, as some bags were several months old.
If you prefer single-origin coffee, Fresh Roasted Coffee’s Medium Roast Costa Rica Tarrazu could be your pick. This Costa Rican coffee is grown at over 4,000 feet and has light acidity, with flavors of honey and chocolate.
Though it is priced a bit lower, we found the Costa Rica Tarrazu to have a few drawbacks, including inconsistent roasting, and issues with freshness. We found that the roast level is often too dark for a medium, which is not ideal for percolator brewing. When ordered through Amazon, this coffee generally arrives at least a month after roasting.
Koffee Kult’s Medium Roast Whole Bean coffee is made up of beans grown in Colombia and Brazil. The flavor is smooth, full, and never-bitter and the oil-free beans have an excellent aroma. Sold in 16- and 32-ounce bags, this high-end medium-bodied coffee features notes of cherry and caramel.
The bags do not have roast dates printed on them, and we found reports of stale beans. If you do end up receiving an older bag, Koffee Kult guarantees your satisfaction with a no-questions-asked return policy.
Are you looking for the convenience of ground coffee? The Light Roast Hola from Kicking Horse Coffee could be for you. This ground coffee, which has a higher price point, is sourced in Central and South America and certified Organic, Fair Trade, and Kosher.
Along with notes of chocolate and honey, Hola’s light roast has a slightly burnt flavor, which unfortunately can translate to bitterness in percolated coffee. We did find the grind to be coarse enough to work well with our percolator’s metal filter. Kicking Horse roasts the beans just before packaging, but when you order through Amazon, there may be a bit of lag depending on inventory.
Volcanica Coffee’s Whole Bean Medium Roast Antigua is single-origin, gourmet coffee grown in the volcanic soil of Antigua, Guatemala. This coffee is certified SHB, or Strictly Hard Bean, because it’s grown at an elevation of 5,000 to 6,000 feet.
The Antigua has a smooth body, high acidity, and a mild flavor, which produces a less intense percolator brew. Through Amazon, you’re likely to receive your beans around a month after roasting. If you don’t love this coffee, Volcanica offers a 100% satisfaction guarantee.
Café Las Flores Grandes Cosechas Medium Roast Whole Bean Coffee, grown in Nicaragua, is reasonably priced and has smooth, never-bitter flavor. However, the roast level is on the light side of medium, making it a little too mild for the best percolator flavor.
The Grandes Cosechas has a best before date printed on the bag, in place of our preferred roast date, which makes it more difficult to tell how fresh your bag is. Café Las Flores does not offer any guarantees and provides minimal customer service.
The Espresso Dark Roast from Starbucks is our least favorite option for brewing in a percolator. Grown in Latin America and the Asia/Pacific region, this coffee blend is reasonably priced but may not work as well in your percolator.
These beans are full-bodied and very flavorful, with strong notes of chocolate and caramel. However, they lack the complexity of fruit flavors, and the dark roast leans too easily into bitterness for ideal percolator coffee. Depending on your taste, these beans may produce an overly dark cup of percolator coffee.
Now that you’ve taken a look at our seven favorite coffee brands for percolators, you may be wondering what exactly makes a great percolator coffee. Keep reading to learn which factors matter the most to percolator flavor, and to see our tips on what to look for and avoid.
Percolators produce strong, concentrated coffee. Because of that intensity, delicate flavors can get lost in the shuffle; thus, light roasts may produce less interesting cups of percolator coffee. That strength also means that your coffee can tend toward bitterness, so you may want to avoid dark roasts, too, which can overwhelm already flavorful brews. Smooth, medium roast coffee offers a good balance: plenty of flavor without too much bitterness. You can learn more about the four types of coffee roasts in our detailed guide.
Choosing the right coffee flavors isn’t just about your brewing method. It’s also about your preferences. Do you like complex fruit flavors or notes of chocolate and caramel? Do you want your coffee as strong as you can make it, or do you have a lower tolerance for bitterness? Keep your favorite coffee flavors in mind as you shop, and you’ll be sure to end up with delicious beans.
As in all coffee brewing methods, fresher coffee beans yield more flavor. You may want to keep an eye on roast dates and shipping times so that you can aim for the golden window of one to two weeks between roasting and brewing. If you’re looking for the freshest flavor, grinding your beans just before brewing will keep them fresh for longer. To learn more, take a look at our guide to keeping your coffee beans fresh.
Percolators work with metal filters, so you’ll want to make sure your beans are ground coarsely. Metal filters have much larger holes than paper or cloth filters, so if you grind too finely, you may end up with a silty cup of coffee.
In the end, our favorite percolator coffee is the medium roast Three Sisters from Kicking Horse Coffee. Rich, smooth, and well-balanced, this coffee never tastes bitter. Our runner-up is Fresh Roasted Coffee’s Medium Roast Costa Rica Tarrazu, a high-altitude single-origin coffee with lots of flavor and a lower price. And if you prefer to buy ground coffee, Kicking Horse’s Light Roast Hola, which is flavorful and perfectly ground, could be your new go-to.
Whether you like your percolated coffee light or dark, single-origin or blended, there are a lot of great coffee brands out there. With the help of our detailed reviews of the seven best coffees for percolators, plus our tips on picking out your favorite flavors, we hope you can easily find your new favorite coffee.
Don’t have a percolator? Read our guide to the best stovetop percolators!
By Kate MacDonnell
Feature image credit: Jessica Lewis, Pexels
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