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So when TODAY Food spotted this $30 coffee maker with more than 3,000 five-star reviews on Amazon recently, we just knew we had to try it out.
The Farberware Classic Stainless Steel Yosemite 8-cup Percolator is a classic design. You know, those shiny, metal coffee pots that go on the stove, with the clear knobs on top where you can actually see the coffee perking up?
As a coffee nerd, I was excited to try it — I haven't had percolated coffee in years and remember how it filled my grandparents' kitchen with the smell of fresh coffee.
I'll cut to the chase here. I wanted to like it. I really did. I followed the directions to-a-T, watched online tutorials, ground my beans on all the various percolator settings of my burr grinder ... all of it. But no matter what I tried, the coffee's taste fell flat and was bitter at the same time.
Despite the many, many positive reviews, to my relief, I wasn't alone. "Brewing coffee using a stovetop percolator doesn’t have the best reputation these days. Many so-called coffee experts believe this is one of the worst ways to make coffee," according to the coffee-tip site Roasty (motto: "Brew coffee so good, it will make a hipster cry"), which offers a tutorial for making percolator coffee.
Even if you do make the best percolator cup possible, though, there's still the issue of all the parts. The percolator pot comes with a basket, pump base, spreader and a little spring, which I kept fearing I'd lose it down the kitchen sink. The parts are dishwasher safe, but again, annoying to load, with all the little parts plus a giant pot.
Before you pour the coffee, it's also recommended that you take all that apparatus out — while it's still screaming-hot.
Why do people like this again? Well, to be fair, according to online reviews, some people love how hot the coffee gets in a percolator (it burnt my tongue). Others use it for camping (which I could totally see and recommend). And others just seem to have a nostalgia for the taste (which is totally fine, but if it's not your thing, it's not your thing).
Only 3 percent of reviewers gave it one star, but of course, the people reviewing it are mainly fans of percolated coffee — a good reminder to not just look at the star rating but the context.
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Farberware Classic Stainless Steel Yosemite Percolator, 8-cup, Amazon
Verdict: If you love the taste of stove-top coffee, this is for you. If not, check out some other reasonably priced recs below:
Another coffeemaker that spans a few generations now is the Chemex. What sets the pour-over glass coffeemaker apart are its thick, cone-shaped filters, which strain out bitter compounds and oils.
Chemex Classic Series Drip Glass Coffee Maker, 6-cup, $44, Sur La Table
If you've given up on French presses because of that fine silt you get at the bottom of your cup, check out this solid newcomer — it has a patented double micro-filtering system, with an optional third, paper filter for those oils.
Espro P3 French Press Coffee Maker, 18 ounce, $40, Sur La Table
Looking for a more of a programmable option? Hamilton Beach's came in on par with $100 models in a recent Consumer Reports test.
Hamilton Beach 12-cup Programmable Coffee Maker, $35, Amazon
Fan of the classic Mr. Coffee? This handsome chrome model also did well in Consumer Reports' recent test and has a solid rating with a whopping 7,245 reviews and counting.
Mr. Coffee 12-cup Programmable Coffee Maker with Thermal Carafe, $30, Amazon