What’s Percolating?

What’s Percolating?

For some odd reason I was thinking of coffee the other day (I’m not a coffee drinker) and had a couple of little flashbacks. The first was an old coffee pot we had when I was a kid. It was an electric percolator one, in an avacado green color. I started poking around the web and I found a few pics that are similar to it. The first picture on the left here looks very very close to what I remember & I think it may well be the same model (Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any company or model info for it on the site.) I think the one on the right is different from the one we had (the handle is different, and I think the glass bulb on the lid is different), but it shows all the parts inside the machine.


For those of you not familiar with percolators, they brew the coffee right in the pot. You put the water in the pot, then put the tall aluminum piece in, then the bowl shaped piece, then put a special percolator filter in (they have holes in the middle, for the metal stem), put in the coffee, put the flat aluminum piece on the bowl, then put the lid on the whole thing. With electric models you then plug in the cord (there are also stove-top models which you place on a stove burner) and wait. As the water heats up it “blurps” up into the glass bulb on the lid, then filters down through the bowl of coffee grounds & back in to the pot of water, then repeats until you turn it off. As the coffee brews the water/coffee bubbling up into the bulb gets darker, you know it’s done when it’s dark enough to suit your tastes.

People who have used them tell me the taste is inferior to the more familiar pots, due to the fact that it reboils the already brewed coffee along with the yet to be brew water. While this does make sense, I have to take their word for it, I find all coffee inherently repugnant myself.

Percolators were pretty common back in the 80s. Drip makers were still fairly new, and more expensive than percolators. Now however, percolators seem to have completely vanished from the market.

Thinking of this old coffee pot brings back memories of sitting there “watching it perc”. That in turn reminded me of an old coffee commercial from the same timeframe. I managed to find it on youtube. It’s for Maxwell House instant coffee, and has a seemingly musical percolator. This in it’s turn seems to be a reference to an even older commercial, which I found in the process of looking for this one. The older commercial was also for Maxwell House, but was for conventional brewing coffee, and seems to be from the 50s or 60s.

This is the commercial I saw many times as a kid:


Team Retroist Chief Nostalgia Psychic...

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Did everything come in that color in those days. My folks had a crock pot that exact same avocado green. I guess it made the food more appealing to know that “hey, at least it is not the same color as the crock pot”.

  2. Heh.
    I know avacado was a popular color for kitchen appliences at various points. It’s not exactly an appealing color, but it trumps the excrutiatingly bland black, white, grey/stainless options that we’re stuck with today.

  3. My family’s entire kitchen was Avocado colored. I loved it, my Mom, not so much. Because of my Grandmother’s insistence we were a percolator family for well into the 1990s even after we had a Mr. Coffee. Loved that smell of overcooked coffee.

  4. I don’t remember exactly when we first got a drip maker, but I think it was around 1985 or 1986. I vaguely remember a white, very squared off maker, with brown & orange details.

  5. My mother had one of these except her percolator was chrome. No color. She loved that thing. This electric percolator joined us on so many road trips/vacations we took when I was a kid.

  6. Avocado is the color of retro.
    Almost as much as wood-panel brown.

    We had a percolator way back when.
    It was the greeting custom for guests and neighbors to have the perc’ percolating in no time.

    Then, everything switched to instant coffee.
    It was all about making water boil when guests arrived.
    As a kid, it was the first formal training of spotaneous civility I taught myself.

    An uncle would come by every night to see my dad.
    At one point, I got the idea to offer coffee – via hot water production and Maxwell House jar scavenging – and was congratulated on my good thinking.

    Didn’t last, of course.
    Once I got to playing un-pausable video games, it was all “Uh yeah, coffee’s on the counter, somewhere and uh…my dad’ll be here soon”.
    My eyes never left the TV screen.

    So glad I never drank that re-percolated stuff.
    I grind my own coffee now, and percolate it with a Bialetti stove-top coffeemaker.
    It reminds me of those avocado beauties, though.

    Even moreso after this fine article.

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