Boots the Badass Coffee Babe here to talk Percolator Coffee . . . Are you thinking that this brewing method is just too old-timey or outdated or un-hipster-esque? Does the image of a percolator bring back your mother’s or grandmother’s Wednesday morning kaffee klatch? Or a church supper? Or a rousing Saturday night of Polish polka on a waxed dance floor? Or Uncle Dean’s summer mountain cabin? Or old-timey conversating between the old folk sitting around a kitchen table?
I can’t think about percolators without hearkening back to my very early childhood and my morning-grumpy, bootlegging, Polish grandmother. It was at this tender age that I learned the life lesson that caffeine serves as an Adult Lifeline and Morning Saviour. And another thing that I learned: Don’t mess with Grandma’s coffee and no one will get hurt.
Ignorance is bliss, or so they say. What I considered to be an innocent Borrowing turned out to be an act of Brazen Temerity: I borrowed (translate: nearly lost) the glass plug that fits into the percolator lid for my playtime pleasure. I was setting up an opulent mud-pie party for my dollies and, after scavenging the kitchen cupboards and drawers for Items of Elegance, I came across the glass perking plug — which was to become the most perfect and elegant crystal teacup. I didn’t give it another thought until the next morning . . .
. . . when my caffeine deprived grandmother went on a cussing rampage while she looked for the necessary glass plug. Looking back, she probably dropped the equivalent of a few muttered F-bombs, but as for me being the Guilty Party who had absconded with such an Integral Element of her Morning Ritual? Well, I was quaking in my Buster Browns, I am telling you.
If you have never heard someone cussing enthusiastically in Polish, you will not understand how terrifying and mesmerizing this was to my innocent, yet guilty, little soul. To put it plainly, Grandma wanted her coffee and she wanted it bad. And I knew that my intrepid borrowing had led to this moment of extremely-motivating personal terror.
Grandma searched the dish drainer, the kitchen junk drawer, and garden bucket of peelings. It didn’t take long for me to realize the error in my judgment, the epiphany of which sent me on a reconnaissance mission to Recover the Crystal Grail. I found said Grail out in the sand box and, surreptitiously so, replaced it in the dish drainer that my grandmother had already checked 3 or 4 times. It was gritty and dirty and it bore all the signs of having been abused by someone who was not yet of an age that could fully appreciate the Sanctity of the Crystal Grail.
Sigh. I get it now. Mr. Shakespeare had it right: “No legacy is so rich as honesty.” My anguish could have been greatly minimized had I simply fessed up to Grandma and asked her to help me find it. I don’t know. I still feel mildly twitchy when I think back on this event. William Shakespeare wrote: “The web of our life is of a mingled yarn, good an ill together.” In other words, All’s Well That Ends Well — as his play is so aptly entitled.
Mr. Shakespeare knew his stuff. Being a sensitive kid and a quick learner of Human Nature in the Morning, I was never to borrow The Crystal Grail again. All I can say is thank God for Saint Rita, the Patron Saint of Desperate Causes, for I was able to recover the Precious Plug. My grandmother received her morning dose of caffeine, and all was, once again, right with the world. Like Helen, in Mr. Shakespeare’s All’s Well That Ends Well, life sometimes does end with a nice, neat ribbon tied ’round the Event. And like Bill tries to tell us: Don’t worry. Be happy. It’s all good. You’re gonna be fine. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Things are going to turn out fine in the end. And don’t mess with an Uncaffeinated Grandma.
So, if you are like me and you like happy endings and you like to have more than one gizmo for making coffee in your kitchen, why not add one more? A percolator is fun, retro, and old school. It has all of these cool parts that fit together kind of like Tinker Toys, and you will experience the beauty of making coffee with Essential Parts of a Greater Whole.
And people who perk say that perk coffee is the best. After seeing my grandmother’s Tizzy Fit unfold, I am a believer. So why not try it? The percolator pot isn’t expensive to buy, and you will always be ready for whatever coffee emergency that may occur.
WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF USING A PERCOLATOR?
Why use a percolator . . . when you already have a French press or an automatic drip machine or a pour-over cone or an espresso machine? Here are some reasons why it might be a good idea to have a coffee percolator in your coffee arsenal:
- You live in an area where you have frequent power outages.
- You live off the grid.
- You’ve run out of fine-grind coffee for your espresso machine and your grinder only does a coarse-grind.
- You feel like doing something to honor Throwback Thursday.
- Your grandparents are coming to visit and this is the only coffee they like to drink.
- You like to try new things.
- You are going camping and you want something that is super simple and unbreakable to bring along for your coffee brewing.
- You like the look of a percolator on the campfire grate.
- You feel inspired to belt out cowboy songs when you hear the percolator bubbling.
- You feel a sense of magic when you see the coffee perking into the glass top plug.
- You think of your grandmother and wish that you had learned how to cuss in Polish from her when you had the chance.
IS PERCOLATION A DINOSAUR BREW METHOD?
Is it a generational thing? Are percolators going the way of cursive handwriting and mental math? I don’t think so. There are many people who still use this method of brewing. And I know a few people who are pretty proud to make coffee with such a cool, retro looking pot.
HOW THE HECK DO YOU USE A PERCOLATOR?
This is a great question. And I’m not going to lie. It was TOUGH to find a decent video about percolating coffee to share with you. I came across this particular one with Quaker Anne and said Eureka! She walks you through the steps and convinces you that percolating is the way to go. I especially like the way she talks about her special coffee treat of adding pure maple syrup and cream to her coffee as she is relaxing at the end of the video. It looks like this gal knows how to savor and enjoy life’s little pleasures. Check it out. It goes for almost ten minutes, but it is kind of restful and meditative to watch.
Quaker Kitchen: Stovetop Percolator Coffee (9:56)
As Quaker Anne so wisely says: “That which is worth having is worth waiting for. I am thinking that QA is one smart cookie.
And here is a recipe/summary of QA’s How-To video:
- Use excellent coffee of a coarse grind . . . Grind is Essential
- Use good water . . . Good Water is Essential
- Use the right proportions of water to grounds . . . Proportion is Essential: (I don’t agree with Quaker Ann . . . As a rule, I use 2 T. per 8 oz water for brewing any coffee with any method.)
- Spread coffee evenly around basket and place lid on basket put in coffee pot and put all of the Percolator Guts into the pot..
- Assemble all of the pieces . . . oh, and make sure that the glass bubble is secure. You don’t want it to go percolating off the top of your pot. Messy clean-up.
- Put pot on stove and turn heat up to a medium heat and wait for the coffee to start percolating. People who perk love this sound. And who wouldn’t? Coffee is on the way!
- When coffee begins to perk . . . turn temp down so coffee gently perks. You don’t want a raging inferno perking into the glass bubble. Think Gentle.
- Set a timer for approximately 8 minutes.
- Do not over perk. Turn heat off right away.
- Let the percolator sit for about one minute to let all water drain through the basket.
- IMPORTANT: Pour the percolated coffee into a thermos or an insulated carafe. There will be no microwaving coffee on Boots’ watch! Keep it properly hot and you won’t have to reheat it!
And I like QA’s idea to use real maple syrup as a sweetener. Have you tried it yet? It is as special a treat as she describes.
Shopping tips: Buy a stainless steel or a granite ware percolator. Stay away from aluminum.
Have fun with this! I love trying new ways to make coffee, don’t you? Plus, it’s nice to have a dependable way to make coffee the next time a lofty windstorm pushes some giant Douglas firs down across the power lines. At least you’ll have your percolator to fortify your day with some Joe!
Life is a lively event. Percolate some coffee, pull up a chair, and get to it.
What’s stopping you?
Happy Shopping for Cups, Percolators, & Carafes below!
For starters, how about these Retro cups for your freshly-percolated coffee? I love these cups! Makes me think of all of those Kaffee Klatches that my grandma shared with her other Polish-speaking friends. I couldn’t understand a word, but I enjoyed their stories, nonetheless.
Momugs Unique Retro Hit Color Ceramic Coffee Cup with Spoon and Saucer Set, 10 oz mug, Orange
Or these? Fun!
Diner Coffee Mugs Red Set of 6
Copco Brushed 4 to 8-Cup Stainless Steel Stovetop Percolator
Farberware Classic Stainless Steel Yosemite 8-Cup Coffee Percolator
And for those times when the percolator glass knobs go missing!
2 pack Fitz-All Replacement Percolator Top, Small (2)
And every kitchen should have at least one carafe:
304 Stainless Steel Double Walled Vacuum Insulated Carafe with Press Button Top, Quality Thermal Carafe, Water Pitcher with Lid, coffee Pots, Serving Pitchers Coffee Thermos, 2-liter,Silver
Panesor 2 Liter(68 Ounce) Coffee Carafe Thermal, Vacuum Insulated Stainless Steel Carafe, Hot and Cold 24 hours
One thought on “Retro Percolator Coffee, Grandma Cussing in Polish, & All’s Well That Ends Well”
What fun! I truly appreciate your post. I don’t know if city dwellers ever appreciate the beauty that comes from playing in the mud. City folks have paved streets and in my opinion the best puddles are probably unpaved road puddles. I don’t think I ever “borrowed” from the dish rack or kitchen cabinets for one of my mud parties. And I don’t think I ever invited any of my dolls. My favorite mud pastime was making “mud stockings” at the gigantic corner mud puddle that separated our house from Uncles John’s combination residence, Town Hall, Fire Station and Barber Shop. The puddle was best in spring, following the winter thaw. Too many tractors and heavy trucks cut that corner too closely resulting in lovely ruts that no blade or grading ever truly leveled. Come the summer rain, the ruts were ready to fill and provide hours of fun. AND … the puddle came with worms!