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Old-Fashioned Stovetop Coffee

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Here’s a rich, mellow brew that uses an old-fashioned stovetop percolator — inner parts removed — to make fresh, hot homemade stovetop coffee.

Although you use a percolator (guts removed), this coffee is not perked. Steeped would be a more accurate description.

We made tasty coffee this way for years before we moved on to a different method.

The pot
Corning used to make a lovely, sturdy 9-cup stovetop percolator. So thick and insulated — its heat retention was wonderful! The coffee would perk gently and evenly, without developing bitter, burnt-tasting compounds. That’s the coffee maker we used to make stovetop coffee.

I know Corning made these in the 1970s, but I don’t know when they began or ended production. However, they made seemingly billions of them back in the years before the boring drip method took over the national coffee zeitgeist. So they are very easy to find online or in secondhand stores.

The story behind method
The heart of the method is bringing all the coffee and water to the ideal brewing temperature (200° F–205° F), and then letting it sit for the ideal amount of time (4–5 minutes).

To achieve this, we heat the Corning coffeepot with the coffee and water in it at high heat. Because the coffeepot itself holds so much heat, we turn the flame off at 195 F. The heat stored in the pot and the cast iron burner stand (on a gas stove) continues to heat the water to around 200 F. We then use a French press to separate  out the grounds.

The first time you make coffee this way, you might want to use a thermometer to find out what the right times are for your stove.

If you don’t have a thermometer, you could bring water alone to a boil in the pot, and time it. Then subtract a minute or so. That way you will know how long to apply heat before the coffee would come to boiling. The key is not to boil coffee, but to heat it at below the below the boiling point.

Grind: On the coarse side of the store grinder dial. Any one of the percolator settings should do it.

A “scoop” is defined here as a standard coffee scoop, filled to level. That is 2 level tablespoons coffee. This is the amount to use per every 6 ounces of water. That’s also the same as 1/8 cup, filled to level.

Stirring is important for creating a full, rich flavor. For stirring, we use a wooden spoon. We use the same one all the time, and allow it to stain dark with coffee.

Stovetop coffee
The recipe

Equipment
Corning stovetop percolator with lid (remove inner basket, lid and stem)
Thermometer
French press or fine sieve

Ingredients
Ground coffee (use percolator settings on store grinder)
Water

Here are the two amounts we make:

To the “5″ measure
(This is the max that fits into our French press)
——————
Fill coffeepot to the “5″ mark with fresh, cold water.
Add 5 scoops coffee.
Stir to moisten evenly.
Put on a burner set to max heat.
Set timer for 10 minutes.
After 10 minutes, turn off heat. (If stove is electric, remove pot from burner.)
Stir.
Set timer for 5 minutes.
After 5 minutes, pour coffee mixture into a French press.
Rinse extra grounds from coffeepot.
Press to separate grounds.
Return coffee to coffeepot.

 

Soda bottle amount
(There’s no mark on the coffeepot for an amount this small, but it’s a good amount of coffee to make)
——————
Fill a 20-ounce soda or water bottle with fresh, cold water.
Transfer into the coffeepot
Add 2 scoops coffee.
Stir to moisten evenly.
Put on a burner set to max heat.
Set timer for 7.5 minutes.
After 7.5 minutes, turn off heat. (If stove is electric, remove pot from burner.)
Stir.
Set timer for 5 minutes.
After 5 minutes, pour coffee mixture into a French press.
Rinse extra grounds from coffeepot.
Press to separate grounds.
Return coffee to coffeepot.

 

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