Can You Use Whole Coffee Beans In A Percolator?

While percolators aren't as widely discussed as they used to be, they are still alive and well in the coffee-making world. If you use a percolator to make your coffee, you might wonder if you can use whole beans in the percolator. We have done the research to answer this question for you.

You should always purchase fresh, whole beans to use when making coffee at home. However, you must grind them before using them in your percolator. 

That probably sounds a bit frustrating. You must grind your beans before using them in your percolator, but you shouldn't buy pre-ground coffee. We will explain why fresh beans are best and why they shouldn't be used whole in your percolator. We will also teach you everything you need to know about grinding your beans at home. Keep reading so you can enjoy the very best cup of coffee your percolator can make.

Cup fo black coffee beans in a wooden bowl, Can You Use Whole Coffee Beans In A Percolator?

Why You Need Fresh Coffee Beans...


As the name implies, using fresh coffee beans is the best way to ensure that you are getting the freshest coffee possible. Coffee beans are more exposed to the air after they are ground, and the oxidation process begins. The freshness starts to break down quicker, and at this point and the beans will go stale faster.

To better understand this, consider an apple after it has been cut or bitten. Apples last for days on the kitchen counter when they are whole and unpeeled. However, if you take a bite of the apple and leave it in the same place on the counter, it will quickly turn brown and begin to rot.

Coffee beans undergo a similar process when they are ground instead of left whole.

Grind Size

When you purchase pre-ground coffee, you have to go with the grind size that the manufacturers have chosen. In some cases, this may mean that you either have to sacrifice your favorite type of coffee or your ideal grind size.

This can become expensive if you have more than one coffee-making machine, each with a different recommended grind size. When you use whole beans, you can determine how you want them ground when you make your coffee.

…And Why They Don't Belong In Your Percolator

Close up of a coffee percolators on stove in the kitchen, 5 Best Stovetop Coffee Percolators To Consider

After learning that fresh beans are superior to pre-ground coffee, your next thought might be to use whole beans in your percolator instead of grinding them at all. While this would not cause any damage to your machine, it would take much longer to make a cup of coffee this way.

Instead of brewing your coffee for just a couple of minutes, you are looking at hours or even overnight if you want to brew coffee from whole beans.

Do You Need Special Coffee For A Percolator?

You do not need a special type of coffee for a percolator. Any brand or flavor of coffee will work just fine. Instead, you need to focus on the coarseness of the grind. A coarse grind is ideal for use in a percolator, but you can use a medium to coarse grind if you prefer or have it available.

For more information on this question, check out our article, Do You Need Special Coffee For A Percolator?

How Long Do You Grind Coffee Beans For A Percolator?

Before you can determine how long you should grind your beans, you need to know what coarseness you need. The length of time that you need to grind beans directly correlates to the coarseness you desire.

For use in a percolator, beans should have a coarse grind. At this coarseness, the beans will be rough and relatively large, resembling potting soil.

How Long To Grind For Coarse

An automatic coffee grinder will do all the work, so you won't need to time the grind to reach the desired coarseness. However, if your grinder does not automatically stop depending on the coarseness you choose or grinding manually, you will need to time the process.

A coarse grind can be achieved in about 8-10 seconds. Check the appearance of the beans after this length of time to see if they are coarsely ground. If not, grind for just a couple more seconds and re-check. Over grinding the beans will result in a finer grind.

How Do You Grind Coffee Beans For A Percolator?

A small stainless steel percolator held by a barista

While you can use a blender, food processor, or old-fashioned mortar and pestle to grind your coffee beans, a coffee grinder is the most convenient and ideal method. If you make coffee frequently in your home, it is worth investing in a coffee grinder.

However, some coffee retailers allow you to buy fresh beans and grind them yourself before taking them home. Be careful if grind them ahead of time, though. The longer the ground coffee goes without being used, the less fresh the resulting coffee will be.

Using An Automatic Grinder

To grind your coffee beans using an automatic grinder, follow these steps:

  1. Remove the coffee bean hopper's lid.
  2. Fill the hopper with the desired amount of beans. Do not exceed the hopper's fill line.
  3. Replace the hopper lid.
  4. Select the appropriate amount of coffee that you want to grind.
  5. Select the desired fineness.
  6. Turn the grinder on to grind the beans. Most grinders will stop automatically when it is complete.

Click here to see this automatic burr grinder on Amazon. 

Using A Manual Grinder

To grind your coffee beans using a manual grinder, follow these steps:

  1. Remove the lid, handle, and locking ring where the coffee beans will be held.
  2. Adjust the dial to the grind setting of your choice.
  3. Place your coffee beans in the grinder.
  4. Lock the lid, handle, and ring back into place.
  5. Turn the handle in slow, even motions to grind the beans.
  6. Take apart the grinder where the grounds are held to remove them.

Click here to see this manual burr grinder on Amazon. 

Blade Vs. Burr Grinder

A blade grinder used a blade similar to a blender to grind the coffee beans into smaller pieces. A burr grinder, on the other hand, crushes the beans between one moving mechanism and one non-moving mechanism, similar to what you would see on a can opener.

Burr grinders are preferred for grinding coffee beans, though blade grinders are likely more well-known. Burr grinders provide a consistent grind, which yields a better-tasting cup of coffee. They can also handle a higher quantity of beans at a time. Blade grinders aren't as consistent but cost less and are more convenient.

How Much Coffee Do You Put In A Percolator?

Stainless steel coffee percolator and a cup of coffee on the table, How To Clean A Stainless Steel Coffee Percolator

The amount of coffee needed depends on the number of cups and the strength of the coffee you want to make.

For a strong brew, you will need a heaping tablespoon for each cup of coffee you are making. For example, 6 cups of strong coffee will need six heaping tablespoons of coffee grinds. Add less coffee per cup depending on how much weaker you want the brew, down to as little as a teaspoon per cup.

A Word Of Caution

Make sure that you know the capacity of your percolator, and do not try to add more coffee or make more cups than your percolator can hold. The packaging of your percolator should tell you how many cups can be made in it.

Does A Percolator Make Better Coffee?

Many people prefer the taste of coffee from a percolator, especially if they prefer a strong, bolder cup. The water in a percolator gets extremely hot, so it is better able to pull the full flavor and richness from the beans. Those who enjoy a milder coffee flavor may not be a fan of coffee made in a percolator.

Click here to see this percolator on Amazon. 


A percolator is still a great way to get a nice, strong cup of coffee at home without having to do too many steps. To get the freshest cup of coffee you can, be sure to purchase fresh beans and grind them as you need them. With an automatic grinder, the grinding process is quick and easy. Don't fret if you don't have a coffee grinder of your own yet, though. There are many other ways to grind your coffee beans.

For more coffee-related content, check out the following:

How To Use A Campfire Coffee Percolator

Can An Immersion Blender Grind Coffee Beans?

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