Also known as coffee percolators, stovetop coffee makers are one of the more traditional forms of coffee making that has survived in modern times. These coffee makers are to be placed on a direct heat source and utilize a different brewing process than today’s standard drip machines. Through this process, you’ll get a full-bodied flavor with nostalgic satisfaction. Here are a few stovetop coffee makers we think you should check out.
We thoroughly researched many stovetop coffee makers, reviewing manufacturer claims and product listings. We compared user reviews to better understand the features consumers look for in stovetop coffee makers, what they liked and disliked about each product, and how well each one functioned in the real world.
When we had narrowed our selection down to a handful of items, we sought out the experts’ opinions. We read articles and reviews by several former baristas and even spoke with one directly to get their perspective on the qualities and benefits of stovetop coffee makers. With their input, we narrowed down the product selection to the best five options.
Then we received products directly from the manufacturers and tested them ourselves to better understand their features, capabilities, benefits, and drawbacks. This allowed us to directly compare and contrast the stovetop coffee makers to each other as well.
Why buy a stovetop coffee maker?
Stovetop coffee makers are known for producing flavorful and robust coffee. Due to this factor, they’re an excellent match for espresso, so if you’re an espresso enthusiast, a stovetop coffee maker is an excellent choice for your coffee. And while they require a bit more effort than simply adding coffee grounds and water and pushing a button, stovetop coffee makers are quite simple to use. They don’t have special parts or settings that need to be fiddled with or adjusted, so they rate highly on the convenience scale. Many stovetop coffee makers also work well on an open flame, so you can bring them on camping trips and still get your regular coffee fix, with no electricity required.
As a bonus, stovetop coffee makers tend to be quite aesthetically pleasing, too. Whether you buy a sleek, chrome-colored, modern version or an elegant, classical model, it’ll look great on your stove before, during, and after the brewing process. They aren’t big and clunky the way some electrical coffee makers are. And since you can stash them on your stovetop even when they’re not in use, they won’t take up extra countertop or storage space.
What should you look for in a stovetop coffee maker?
- Construction: When it comes to making the perfect cup of coffee, it’s about how you can burn the least amount of coffee grounds. The material construction of your percolator plays a big role in how quickly you’re getting coffee. Options that are made from stainless steel take their time, while aluminum choices actually conduct heat faster but have a higher chance of burning the grounds, thus altering the flavor of your final product. Depending on the material construction of your chosen percolator, you’re going to have to get comfortable gauging the perfect heat level for your coffee.
- Capacity: If you drink multiple cups of coffee a day, a larger stovetop coffee maker can save you the trouble of having to brew more than one pot a day. There are plenty of size options out there, no matter your coffee habits.
- Handling: It’s also important that the percolator you chose allows for a safe and easy pour into the cup. Two constant fears coffee lovers have both fixate on being burned: getting scalded by a handle or accidentally spilling the contents during the pour, and they happen all too often for users with substandard percolators. Consider options that feature enough space between the handle and the frame and those that wrap the handle in a heat-resistant material. Additionally, you should also seek out percolators that favor narrow spouts and tight lids to prevent excess coffee from escaping.
How do stovetop coffee makers work?
Regular drip coffee makers and pour-over coffee makers work by pouring hot water through coffee grounds. Stovetop coffee makers reverse this process. They come with three parts, often known as chambers. The bottom chamber is for the water, the middle is a filter or basket for the coffee grounds, and the top chamber is for the finished coffee. Once the water in the bottom chamber is heated to a boil, it begins to steam. The pressure causes the water to rise up through the coffee grounds and then into the topmost chamber as the finished product.
Stovetop coffee makers are quite simple to use. Though the actual process may vary slightly depending on which model you buy, stovetop coffee makers generally only require a couple of simple steps to use. Once you’ve obtained your coffee grounds (either by buying grounds or grinding the beans yourself), fill the bottom chamber with water and then fill your filter or basket with the coffee grounds. Attach the top component, making sure the whole coffee maker is secure, and then put it on your stovetop to bring it to a boil. Keep a close eye on your coffee maker to ensure it’s not brewing too fast or too slow. Once all the water has traveled through the grounds and into the top chamber, you should hear a hissing and gurgling sound, at which point you should remove the coffee maker from the heat and pour yourself a cup.
How expensive are stovetop coffee makers?
The good news is that stovetop coffee makers are generally not very expensive, especially compared to drip coffee makers and other electric coffee machines. They’re operated manually and don’t require a lot of extra bells and whistles that drive the price up, nor do they require batteries or any extra expenses beyond the price of your coffee grounds. You should be able to get a quality stovetop coffee maker somewhere in the $20 to $35 price range.
If you’re feeling fancy, a really high-end model might be around $45 to $60, but you don’t need to buy one that expensive for a good cup of stovetop-made coffee. And if you’re on a tight budget, there are even less costly models for under $20.
Are there any other features you should look for in a stovetop coffee maker?
Make sure that it’s compatible with your stove. While modern models tend to be widely compatible, not every stovetop coffee maker will work on every single stovetop. If you have an electric or gas stovetop, this shouldn’t be too much of an issue; however, If you have an induction stovetop, you’re going to need to be more careful. Regardless, be sure to check compatibility before you buy.
Many modern stovetop coffee makers also have a clear knob on the lid. While not strictly necessary, this is a handy little feature. Beyond giving you a spot to grab and lift the lid to insert water and coffee without hurting your hand, the transparency of these knobs allows you to see the steam so you know your coffee is percolating. This allows you to keep a closer eye on and track the brewing process, which in turn helps prevent your coffee from burning. Just make sure the knob is made of a non-heat conductive material to further protect your hand.
If you want to buy one of these coffee makers specifically for espresso, be sure to choose an actual espresso maker. Some stovetop “espresso makers” are really moka pots. They’re very similar, but the coffee produced by moka pots isn’t quite as strong since they don’t use as much pressure in the brewing process. Moka pots make for great stovetop coffee makers, and the coffee they make is about as strong a brew as you can get without a real espresso maker.
Finally, it’s worth checking to see if your stovetop coffee maker is dishwasher safe or not, as this makes it much easier to clean. If hand washing is required, be sure that the lid is easily removable and the opening is wide enough to fit your hand and the sponge inside.
Farberware Classic Yosemite Stainless Steel Coffee Percolator
A percolator with a convenient window and a gorgeous stainless steel surface.
Pros: There’s a lot to love about this simple yet effective stovetop coffee maker. The body is made of stainless steel, ensuring that this coffee maker is durable, anti-rust, and anti-bacterial. Despite being made of metal, it’s nice and lightweight. Up top, the clear glass knob provides a small window for users to quickly check when the water is boiling or peer down into the device to see their beverage and the desired color they are after. With a maximum capacity of 8 cups, it’s great for avid coffee drinkers or serving guests. Even better, the entire coffee maker is dishwasher safe for easy and convenient cleaning. Washing by hand is also an option since this product is fully immersible as well.
Cons: Some minor assembly will be required. Be careful not to touch it once the coffee maker has been on the stove for longer than a few minutes. This model’s weight feels less evenly dispersed compared to other similar products.
Bottom Line: Here’s a rounder and more modern take on the classic coffee percolator. This Yosemite model from Farberware features a polished stainless steel surface and an ample, 8-cup capacity. The quality of its mirrored design is matched by durable construction, from its comfortable handle to its firm lid that locks in flavor.
COLETTI Bozeman Coffee Pot
This percolator is designed to withstand some of the harshest conditions nature will throw its way.
Pros: Since you can’t exactly lug an electric drip coffee maker out on a hike or camping grounds, you may be worried about getting your coffee fix out in nature. Fortunately, this stovetop coffee maker was designed with these scenarios in mind. You’ll get tasty, high-quality coffee whether you cook it on a stovetop or over a campfire. It’s durable stainless steel, and the top knob is see-through so that you can see when the water is boiling. It also has measurements marked along the side. It’s available in two large sizes.
Cons: While the rest of the coffee maker is plenty durable, you will want to handle this lid and its glass knob with more care. You’ll also have to hand wash this coffee maker due to its rosewood handle. While the wood doesn’t conduct heat, which is handy for pouring and serving, the wood will also break down over time if it gets wet.
Bottom Line: A welcoming visual throwback to the percolators of yesteryear, this COLETTI Bozeman Coffee Pot brings the rugged appeal of a classic coffee maker while also featuring generation-transcending durability. Its body is made from 100% stainless steel, while its lid features a heat-tempered glass top, and its handle utilizes heat-resistant rosewood to keep your palms burn-free when the coffee is ready to pour. All of these features amount to an option that can be used inside and outside, making it great for the home but more than prepared to brave the wilderness with you.
GSI Outdoors Enamelware Percolator
This percolator can withstand up to 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit and produce large batches.
Pros: If you’re looking for a stovetop coffee maker that’s a bit more decorative or colorful than most, you’ll love this tough but aesthetically pleasing model. It has a classic, old-timey look to it that will especially suit rustic and farmhouse-style kitchens beautifully. The steel body is durable, but it only weighs in about a pound, making it a good choice for outdoor as well as home use. It’s dishwasher safe and comes in two different size capacities, 8 or 12 cups.
Cons: The durability and aesthetic appeal of this stovetop coffee maker make it a slightly higher price. As this product has a hinged lid, it runs the risk of popping open as you’re pouring, especially since the metal bit that holds the lid to the handle is a bit on the flimsy side.
Bottom Line: Another ideal choice for fans of the wilderness, this GSI Outdoors Enamelware Percolator is ready for the long day ahead. Its retro look offers the right amount of cozy appeal, coming in a slick green enamel with white specks that looks admirably like your own DIY paint job. And while a homey feel is a perfect complement to a warm cup of joe, the real surprise is how much of the tasty beverage it is capable of brewing. In total, this option can produce 12 cups of coffee inside of its kiln-hardened body. All you have to do is decide how much of that you want to share.
Bialetti Moka Express Stovetop Coffeemaker
If you're a fan of espresso but don't want to spring for a full-blown espresso machine, this stovetop moka pot offers a less pricey alternative.
Pros: Though it was made with espresso drinks in mind, this model is actually a moka pot. So don’t worry if you’re looking for a regular stovetop coffee maker; this product will work great for regular coffee. It’s made out of aluminum, which provides durability and insulation without weighing down the coffee maker or straining your hands and wrists. And if the 3-cup serving size is too small for your needs, there are 9- and 12-cup models available for purchase as well. Alternatively, if you want a single-serve stovetop coffee maker, you can also buy this moka pot with a 1-cup capacity as well.
Cons: Since this stovetop coffee maker is presented as an alternative to an espresso maker, its cup/serving sizes are measured out in espresso sizes. Be sure to only hand wash this model in water, without soap or detergent. And unlike many modern stovetop coffee makers, this one doesn’t have the handy little clear knob at the top to help you track the brewing process. You’ll have to rely on sound alone to know when your coffee is ready.
Bottom Line: Looking for a stovetop option that produces something with a little extra kick? This Bialetti Moka Express Stovetop Coffee Maker prepares stronger coffee in small, espresso-like batches. It features an entirely aluminum body that provides a classic moka pot with a sleek, modern look. It’s also just plain simple to use: fill, heat, pour, repeat. As long as you don’t mind the smaller capacity and slightly higher price tag, this stovetop coffee maker will add both functionality and beauty to your kitchen.
IMUSA USA Aluminum Stovetop Coffeemaker
A smaller percolator that creates potent beverages in mere minutes.
Pros: If you’re on a tighter budget, this is the stovetop coffee maker for you. This moka pot model is quite inexpensive. Despite its affordability, it’s plenty functional. It works great for espresso-like coffee in particular, and the flip-top makes serving and pouring a much easier task. The knob and handle don’t conduct heat, so you don’t have to worry as much about burning your hands by mistake. Since this coffee maker is comprised of aluminum rather than steel, it’s much more lightweight. Coupled with its small, compact body, this means that it’s also highly portable and won’t put strain on your hands and wrists when pouring and serving.
Cons: It’s essentially a single-cup model for regular coffee. If you drink more than one cup a day, this model probably isn’t going to be big enough for your needs unless you don’t mind brewing multiple cups every day. While the aluminum material means it’s lightweight, it’s also not as sturdy or well-insulated as stainless steel stovetop coffee makers. And it’s strongly recommended that you only hand wash this coffee maker.
Bottom Line: An ideal choice for caffeine lovers who would prefer to save on cabinet space, this stovetop coffee maker from IMUSA makes great use of its smaller frame without breaking the bank in the process. You’re dealing with an all-aluminum body that’s more than capable of heating and keeping liquids warm for a few hours after they’ve been prepared. Its 3-cup capacity may be smaller than most espresso options, but by minimizing its size, you get a quick, portable, and potent cup of pick-me-up.
What are the drawbacks to a stovetop coffee maker?
It’s quite easy to under- or over-extract your coffee grounds with a stovetop coffee maker, especially if you’re not an experienced coffee maker or are used to a machine doing the brewing for you. It’ll likely take some practice to get the hang of your new coffee maker and figure out the proportions and process. You’ll love your stovetop-brewed coffee once you’ve perfected the technique, but it may take you a while to get the results you want.
Also keep in mind that stovetop coffee makers can’t be used to make specialty coffees like lattes or cappuccinos since they don’t have a milk frother or extra equipment used to make these types of coffee drinks.
How long does it take to make coffee with a stovetop coffee maker?
The actual time will vary from model to model and be affected by other factors like the size of the coffee maker, how much water is inside, and the intensity of the heat. In general, stovetop coffee makers don’t take super long to brew your coffee. Somewhere around five minutes is a pretty good baseline, though. If you have a larger coffee maker, fill it to capacity, and brew it on a low, simmering heat, it will likely take longer, more in the 15- to 20-minute range.
These stovetop coffee makers offer a convenient, more modern twist to a classic coffee-making method. Though perfecting the technique may take some practice, you’ll love the strong and rich drinks they can produce.
If you don’t see quite what you’re looking for in this article, here are several other stovetop coffee makers we would also recommend: