At OhSimply.com we like to leave the complicated stuff to others. That goes all the way down to using a simple coffee maker to brew our coffee.
Specialty coffees purchased at coffee shops can cost $5 or more. If you purchase high-end coffee drinks daily, you may be spending upwards of $30 a week (that’s $1440 a year) on coffee.
It’s easy to see how making your own coffee at home could literally save you a small fortune and enrich your life.
There are lots of fancy and complicated ways to make your own perfect cup of coffee these days. Plus coffee makers of all sorts complete with bells and whistles can represent quite a hefty investment.
- French Press
- Espresso Machines
- Cold Brew
- Keurig single-serve coffee maker
To name a few.
Even if you did invest substantial amounts of money into expensive coffee machines and equipment to make flavored coffees, espresso-based beverages or even just your daily cup of Joe at home, you could save some money making your own, but there are ways to save even more!
The problem with a complicated high-end coffee brewer is that devices made of plastic that rely on electronics and computerization to work tend to break down and need to be replaced often.
Luckily, there are several little-known, durable, affordable, simple alternatives to the brewing process that can empower you to make a variety of coffees expertly and cheaply at home.
In this article, we present these three basic, durable choices in coffee making equipment to empower you to buy it once, buy it right. You will avoid waste and ongoing expense while enjoying great coffee. Read on to learn more.
Contents & Navigation
- The Trusty Stovetop Percolator
- What Kind of Coffee Should You Use?
- How To Use Your Percolator
- Get Perking!
- How To Clean Your Percolator
- What’s The Best Percolator?
- Stay Away From Aluminum
- A 6-Cup Pot Of Perked Coffee Is A Thrifty Treat
- Pour-Over Coffee
- Taking Care Of Your Pour-Over Brewer
- It Sounds So Complicated!
- What’s The Best Pour-Over Coffee Brewer?
- Make Inexpensive Espresso Drinks At Home
- Brewing With A Moka Pot
- Caring for Your Moka Pot
- When You Make Your Own Coffee With These Simple Coffee Makers, You Will Literally Save A Small Fortune And Become A More Responsible Citizen!
The Trusty Stovetop Percolator
A stainless-steel stovetop percolator is basically a high-quality cooking implement that never wears out. It comes with no electronic programmable coffeemaker functions or electric components to worry about. Mineral buildup will not ruin it. You can brew coffee using just about any heat source from campfire to magnetic induction burner. [source]
While there is a bit of a learning curve involved in making perked coffee, once you learn how, you will enjoy full, rich, robust coffee rivaling the offerings of any pricey coffee house.
Your stovetop percolator will make:
- Your standard morning coffee
- Full pots of flavored coffees
- Your own specialty coffee brews
- Allow you to incorporate spices such as cinnamon stick, whole cloves, coarsely ground nutmeg, and the like.
What Kind of Coffee Should You Use?
In choosing coffee, do the best you can. Even if you buy standard canned coffee from your grocery store, you will find that when you perk it properly it will be tasty.
As with any type of coffee maker, the fresher your coffee the better the coffee will taste. If possible purchase raw coffee beans and roast and grind them yourself, that’s superb; however, it is not necessary.
If you buy roasted coffee beans, try to grind them right before you perk for maximum freshness. You can grind the beans with a coffee grinder or with a blender. In a coffee grinder, choose the “coarse grind” setting. In a blender, start with the “grate” setting. If that results in very chunky coffee, choose the next setting up.
Finely ground coffee in a percolator will slip through the openings in the basket and end up in your coffee. If you do happen to buy or grind your coffee too fine, be sure to keep a fine mesh strainer on hand to strain out the grounds.
No matter what kind of coffee you buy, keep it in a tightly sealed container in a cool, dry place (e.g. your refrigerator) to keep it fresh. Don’t keep it in your freezer as this can hamper flavor.
How To Use Your Percolator
Be sure to read the information that comes with your percolator. The design is universally simple and standard, but the instructions intended for your percolator should give you a good parts chart and provide specific information about measurements and timing for your pot.
You’ll Need To Have These Items On Hand
- Coffee Beans or Ground Coffee
- Coffee Grinder or Blender
- Pure Filtered Tap Water
- Measuring Cups & Spoons
- Heat Source
- Place the pump tube into the clean, empty pot. Some instructions will tell you to add the water first; however, if you are going to make a full pot of coffee, one easy way to measure the water is to pour it to the point at which it just touches the base of the little spring on the pump tube that supports the coffee basket.
- Add water. A standard cup of coffee is 6 ounces. If you don’t plan to make a full pot of coffee, measure your pure, filtered water carefully. It’s best to use fresh, filtered tap water rather than plain tap water or bottled water. A simple water filtration pitcher does a fine job of producing affordable, fresh water. The Brita Pitcher is a good example of an affordable filtration pitcher that can save you a fortune!
- Measure your ground coffee into the basket before placing it on the pump tube. This will help prevent spilling grounds into the water. About one tablespoonful of coffee per cup should be about right. Naturally, you can adjust this to suit your taste once you’re more familiar with the process.
- Put the grounds basket into its place on the pump tube.
- Put the spreader (grounds basket top) into place. Press it down a bit to make sure it stays put during perking and pouring.
- Check to be sure the glass bubble is screwed securely into the lid and then put the lid on your percolator. Be certain the lid is secure to prevent leaks.
- Place the percolator on your heat source at high heat. Some instructions say to use a lower heat and go for very gentle perking. This is a bit more time consuming, but if you prefer milder coffee, lower heat is better. Experiment with this to get just the settings that suit you. Stay close by. You don’t want to boil your coffee. You will need to adjust your heat when percolation begins.
- Heat until the coffee begins to perk, then reduce the heat and allow the coffee percolate for 7-10 minutes. Keep in mind that the temperature you are going for in this process is a light simmer, not a full boil. Your percolator should not sputter and spout steam. Instead, you should see the coffee begin to perk steadily, and then after you lower the temperature, it should perk a little slower for the 7-10 minutes of brewing. TIP: If you are using a solid, cast-iron electric burner, you can simply turn it off when your coffee begins perking and leave the pot in place. The burner will gradually cool down, and the coffee should stop perking in about 8 minutes. This is so handy that you may find it worthwhile to purchase a single burner hot plate with a cast iron burner for this specific purpose. Try the Elite Cuisine Electric Hot Plate for this.
- When your coffee has finished perking, let it settle for a minute or two so that any stray grounds will sink to the bottom. Some instructions tell you to take the basket full of grounds out, but this is unnecessary. If you have placed the spreader on the basket properly, grounds will not leak into your coffee. The pot and all its components will be very hot, and there’s no need to risk burning yourself trying to wrestle the hot basket out of the percolator.
How To Clean Your Percolator
Between uses, rinse the pot out thoroughly with warm water. Whenever you wash dishes, wash all components of your percolator with soapy water or just pop it into the dishwasher. Be sure to disassemble to the top and wash the glass bubble separately.
Occasionally (say once a month or so), fill the pot with water and put a couple of tablespoons of baking soda in the grounds basket. Perk as if you were making a pot of coffee. Allow the water and soda to perk for about ten minutes and then remove the pot from heat. Allow it to sit until cool and then wash with warm, soapy water.
What’s The Best Percolator?
Farberware Classic Stainless-Steel Yosemite 8-Cup Coffee Percolator is a wonderful item to add to your kitchen equipment. Made of high-quality stainless steel throughout, it is durable, attractive and will literally last a lifetime.
The only downsides to this percolator are its plastic components. It comes with a plastic bubble (the little “window” in the lid where you can see the coffee perking). This thing is worthless.
When you buy your coffee pot, invest about $5 more in a glass bubble, which will last forever unless you drop it and break it, and even that is hard to do. Check out this Fitz-All Replacement Percolator Top being sold at Amazon.
The Farberware pot also has a heat-resistant plastic handle. This is fine for perking coffee on your stovetop, but it might be problematic if you make coffee over a campfire. You may wish to purchase an all-metal percolator for camping.
Stay Away From Aluminum
In percolators and all cookware, avoid aluminum. It imparts a bitter, metallic taste to coffee, and it can leach dangerous particles into your food and beverages. Always opt for stainless steel. It costs a bit more, but it is more durable, safer, and it yields better results. [source]
A 6-Cup Pot Of Perked Coffee Is A Thrifty Treat
Using a percolator is a perfect way to make your daily cup of Joe. Although you can make just a couple of cups at a time with a percolator, you may wish to make a full pot and just decant the extra into a glass container to keep in your fridge or pour the brew into a thermal carafe.
You can enjoy this as iced coffee or warm it up in the microwave to enjoy a single cup at a time. This is a good idea if you like to have a cup of coffee immediately when you get up in the morning. You can set up your percolator to make a fresh pot and warm up a cup of coffee to enjoy while you wait.
A great, simple, affordable way to make individual cups of coffee is the pour-over filter. This method of brewing is a little quicker than using a percolator. The result is not quite as powerful, and you may prefer it to brew your everyday coffee.
A single-serve coffeemaker pour-over device can cost as little as $4, and it’s handy for making individual cups of flavored coffees or decaf, or to enjoy a fresh cup of coffee anytime you like. This device is a cone made of plastic, metal, glass, or ceramic. You use it with a filter (disposable, reusable, or permanent) to make drip coffee maker style. [source]
- High-quality coffee, preferably freshly ground
- A filter (paper, cloth, gold mesh, or built-in)
- A way to heat your water
- Fresh, filtered water
- A pour-over device
With this method, the quality of your ingredients and equipment, the temperature of your water, and the speed of your timing count a great deal.
- Purchase the best device you can. It’s best if you use a pour-over device that is made of metal, tempered glass, or ceramic (as opposed to a plastic device) because plastic can eventually break down. It may also retain flavors, so it’s not the number one choice if you want to be able to make a variety of flavored coffees.
- Use fresh, pure water. Your water should be fresh and filtered (as opposed to bottled or straight from the tap) and just brought to the boiling point. You don’t want scalding hot water, but it does have to be hot enough to penetrate the coffee grounds and extract the flavor and the oils.
- Use a filter that doesn’t block oils. You should use the best filter possible. Gold mesh is preferable, but if you can’t get that, a cloth filter or paper filter will do.
- Many nice, stainless-steel pour-over units include built-in filtration. This style of device is easy to clean, convenient, effective, and waste-free. The built-in stainless-steel filter allows free flow of oils but may allow a bit of sediment to pass through, as well. This small amount of sediment will settle to the bottom of your cup.
- Another option for waste-free brewing is a gold mesh filter. This high-quality coffee brewing implement can be washed and reused indefinitely. In terms of performance, the gold mesh filters allow a lot of coffee oils to pour through, but they also allow a bit of sediment to pour through.
- Cloth filters are also nice and low waste, but they are a bit of a hassle to deal with as you must wash them and hang them up to dry. Cloth filters allow oil to flow through but not sediment. More oil means a more flavorful cup of coffee.
- Paper filters tend to block both oil and sediment and are not really recommended, but if you are going to use paper filters, you can save a great deal of money by purchasing standard, drip coffee maker filters and folding them to fit your pour-over device rather than purchasing filters that are specially made for this purpose.
Use high-quality coffee. Your coffee should be of the highest quality you can afford, and it’s best if you buy beans and grind them just before you make it. If you can buy raw beans, roast them, and grind them just before brewing, that’s even better.
Here’s What You Do
- Heat your water. You can heat your water on your stove top, over your campfire, or in your microwave (or by any other means available to you). No matter how you heat your water, you want to bring it just to the point of boiling. Remove it from the heat and use it as soon as bubbles begin to rise.
- While your water is heating, set up your cup or mug (it’s nice if you can preheat it by filling it with warm water in advance). Put your pour-over device on top with your filter in position. Measure out the amount of coffee you need for the size of your cup or mug. A tablespoonful per 4 ounces of water renders a full-bodied brew.
- When your water begins to boil, remove it from the heat source and pour it smoothly over the grounds. For a small cup (4-6 ounces), you will only pour over one time, so you should stir the slurry (grounds and hot water) gently with a spoon handle to enhance brewing.
- If you are filling a mug or decanter (6-8 ounces or more), you will pour over more than once. In this case, return your water to the heat source and wait until all the water you have poured has dripped through the filter. Pour in more near-boiling water and take care to pour it along the sides of the pour-over device in a way that disturbs the coffee grounds. This will also enhance brewing, or you can stir a bit if you like.
TIP: If pouring into an opaque cup, mug, or decanter, check to be sure you haven’t poured in too much water. You don’t want your container to overflow.
When your cup or mug is filled with fresh coffee, set the pour-over device aside on an empty cup or bowl to prevent a drippy mess. Give your coffee a little stir for an even flavor.
Taking Care Of Your Pour-Over Brewer
It is easy to take care of your pour-over device. Wash it just as you do your coffee cups. You can wash by hand or in the dishwasher. If you get a gold mesh filter, you would be wise to take a little more care and always wash by hand. Be sure to compost your coffee grounds for a happy garden.
It Sounds So Complicated!
All of this may sound very daunting, but take heart! While meeting these conditions will render an exquisite cup of coffee, it is entirely possible to brew a perfectly good cup of pour-over coffee using a plastic pour-over device, a paper filter, and pre-ground, ordinary coffee.
If that’s what you can afford, you can go along very happily using your simple plastic pour-over device and paper filters. This can be handy if you want to brew fresh coffee at work or school and need something virtually indestructible that you can carry in your backpack or briefcase.
The real advantage of this type of coffee brewer is that it enables you to make a tasty, single cup of specialty or ordinary coffee affordably and without any waste.
When you compare the use of a pour-over filter and bulk coffees with the use of alternatives such as single cup makers and coffee pods, you will quickly see that you can save a fortune with a pour-over device, enjoy a better cup of coffee, and avoid generating mountains of plastic litter.
What’s The Best Pour-Over Coffee Brewer?
Ika Kitchen makes a nice, all-in-one, good quality single cup pour-over set at an affordable price. This durable, stainless steel pour-over coffee dripper comes with a matching measuring spoon and will last a lifetime.
Another fantastic tried and true brand of pour-over device is the Melitta single cup brewer. You can usually pick these up in the coffee section of your grocery store for around $5 or $6.
They are also available from Amazon and other online retailers. The Melitta devices come in a range of sizes so that you can brew single cups or large pots of coffee.
Make Inexpensive Espresso Drinks At Home
In 1933, an Italian gentleman by the name of Alfonso Bialetti created a simple, affordable stovetop coffee maker that brews delectable espresso style coffee.
It is not quite espresso, but it’s darned near it. The Bialetti Macchinetta (aka Moka Pot) is the Italian equivalent of the stovetop percolator. It provides an affordable, simple way to make fresh espresso-style coffee at home.
The coffee produced by a Moka Pot is rich, dark, and flavorful, and is certainly an affordable, at-home espresso alternative. [source]
The difference is that truly authentic espresso is created using a machine that produces highly pressurized water at an exact temperature.
A Moka pot works by steaming coffee in a three-chambered pot on your stovetop. Steam from water placed in the lower water reservoir chamber is forced through coffee in the central chamber resulting in a strong, flavorsome brew in the top chamber. Here is how a Moka pot is set up:
- There is a bottom chamber that holds the water (2-6 cups). This chamber is usually equipped with a pressure valve.
- Atop this chamber is a funnel or coffee basket that holds the grounds.
- Above the grounds is a top chamber that starts off empty. As water in the bottom chamber heats up, steam rises through the coffee grounds and collects in the top chamber to produce espresso-style coffee.
You can get Moka pots in aluminum or stainless steel. Remember to opt for stainless steel. Not only is this the safer choice in terms of your health, but it will produce better tasting coffee. Aluminum imparts a definite metallic tang to coffee, especially when it is brewed under pressure.
Brewing With A Moka Pot
#1 – Season The Moka Pot
Before you make your first pot of espresso, break your pot in by running a pot of plain water through it. The idea is to wash any manufacturing residue out of it before you make coffee.
Additionally, having a trial run will give you a chance to make sure the gaskets are properly in place and the pressure relief valve works correctly.
You can add some used coffee grounds to the basket if you want to. This is said to impart a coffee flavor to the metal.
#2 – Follow Directions For Your Pot
When you use your Moka pot, you will want to follow specific procedures. Be sure to follow the instructions for your pot carefully. Don’t overfill or try to make more cups of coffee than the pot is intended to accommodate. This will surely end badly.
#3 – Use High-quality, Coarse, Ground Coffee
Just as with perked and pour-over coffee, the better your ingredients, the better your result will be.
You’ll want fresh, high-quality coffee that is coarsely ground. A Moka pot does not use the fine grind coffee commonly associated with espresso because a very fine grind will prevent steam from being able to rise through the coffee.
Additionally, if your coffee is too finely ground, particles will rise through the filter into the coffee. A coarser grind results in cleaner coffee.
#4 – Use Hot Or Cold Water
When it comes to water, you should use fresh, filtered tap water. Some people begin with cold water and heat it in the base. Others boil the water first, pour it into the base, and then begin brewing.
The difference is that when you start with cold water, the coffee and the seals between the components of the pot are exposed to high heat for a longer period. This means more wear and tear on the seals, and it can mean bitter coffee.
When you start by pouring boiling water into the base of your Moka pot, your brewing time is much shorter, so your coffee will be smoother and your seals will last longer.
#5 – Don’t Overfill
To brew, you should pour water into the base of the unit up to the safety seal level. Fill the coffee filter basket loosely and smooth off the top with a knife blade. Be careful not to tamp the coffee down. If it is too compact, steam will not flow through it freely.
#6 – Check For Safety
Before attaching the top part of the pot, double check to be sure that the gasket and filtration disk are properly in place. Screw the top section onto the base securely and place the pot on a stovetop burner set to medium heat.
#7 – Monitor Progress
When the water and air in the bottom tank heat and expand, hot steam will be forced through the coffee grounds and into the top chamber. Once this process starts, it only takes four or five minutes to finish.
This whole process shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes. If it takes a long time for the water in the base of your unit to heat, you may want to increase the temperature of your burner However, do so in small increments and keep a close eye on it.
If brewing is still slow, your seal may not be tight enough. Check to see if steam is escaping and preventing brewing. If the top of your macchinetta is screwed onto the bottom properly, slow brewing may mean that you have packed your coffee in too tightly or used a grind that is too fine.
- Listen for the gurgle: When the bottom chamber is empty, you will hear a gurgling sound. This means your espresso drink is ready.
- Pour and enjoy! You should remove the pot from heat immediately and pour. Be careful! It’s very hot!
Caring for Your Moka Pot
A Moka pot is a little bit more delicate than a percolator or a pour-over device because it has several gaskets and small parts, and it handles highly pressurized water. For this reason, you should allow it to cool, disassemble it, and wash it carefully by hand after each use.
Some very authentic Italian coffee connoisseurs say that you should not use dish soap on your Moka pot because it will spoil the flavor of the coffee. Occasionally, it’s a good idea to brew a pot of plain water with baking soda or white vinegar to give the entire unit a good cleaning.
Washing carefully soon after use will help prevent mineral deposits from building up and clogging the filter. It will also help keep the seals flexible and functioning for longer periods of time. When seals do eventually wear out, you can order replacements easily and affordably online. [source]
When You Make Your Own Coffee With These Simple Coffee Makers, You Will Literally Save A Small Fortune And Become A More Responsible Citizen!
If you are currently spending over a thousand dollars a year on coffee, just think of all the other wonderful things you might be able to do with that money.
If you are not spending huge amounts of money on coffee but are suffering with weak, flavorless drip coffee from a standard coffee maker, think how much more you could enjoy coffee with the proper, affordable, simple equipment.
Purchasing coffee beans and/or ground coffee in bulk is far more affordable than purchasing specialty coffees by the cup. Becoming an expert at brewing a fine cup of coffee is an enjoyable and admirable pursuit, and you don’t have to come up with a large chunk of change to get started.
If you were to purchase a stovetop percolator for your daily pot of coffee, a pour-over filter for occasional flavored coffees or decaf, and a Moka pot for making espresso-based drinks, you would spend less than $75, and you would have all the equipment you need to make any kind of coffee you want for the rest of your life.
In addition to improving your life and enriching your budget, making your own excellent coffee at home is also literally conservative and a great gift for the earth. Discarded coffee makers and their plastic and electronic components just pile up in landfills when they are no longer of any use.
Buying coffee in shops or making coffee using ultra-modern equipment generates mountains of waste including disposable coffee cups, coffee pods, plastic water bottles, and more.
Making your own coffee at home with “buy-it-once, buy-it-right” equipment generates no waste, other than coffee grounds that make a great addition to your compost heap.
This single change in your lifestyle is a win-win all around. It conserves resources, reduces clutter, saves money, and delivers a superior cup of coffee.