While my stovetop model isn’t big enough for a “Family Affair,” I like to “get it percolatin’” … hah!! Only ’90s kids will understand!! LOL!All joking aside, though, percolation is a great method of brewing for espresso junkies on a budget and/or those of us who need coffee strong enough to wake God himself from ethereal slumber. A percolator brews your coffee by evaporating water from a lower chamber through a puck of grounds and then depositing the coffee condensation in an upper compartment. Because the water evaporates and recondenses in the middle chamber a few times, thus extracting maximum flavor from the grounds, this method yields a strong brew.

Percolators are looked down upon by many coffee aficionados, but they’re still the best for an affordable homemade latte. Espresso machines go for hundreds of dollars, while I got my percolator at Home Goods for six bucks. Because the beans have so much contact with the water, you’ll want a coarse grind for this method as far as coffee goes. For espresso, stick with the classic fine espresso grind.

1. Fill bottom chamber with filtered water up to steam valve
2. Coarsely grind enough coffee to fill filter chamber OR fill chamber with finely ground espresso
3. Set on medium/high heat
4. When the brew begins to percolate (spill out the spout in the top chamber), turn the heat down and let it continue slowly
5. When you no longer hear drips, your coffee/espresso is done!
6. Clean! Your! Percolator!

Throughout this process, one should not open the lid to the percolator to peek inside. A fair amount of steam and hot liquid is sputtering out and could easily burn you. Use your ears to determine when to adjust the heat and remove from the stove.

To turn your espresso into a cappuccino or latte without buying an expensive and hard-to-clean milk steamer, invest in a mini frother. You can usually find them cheap at Ross, Target or even Daiso, and they do essentially the same thing as a steamer if you microwave your milk first.