Before the advent of the electric drip coffee machine the stove top coffee maker was the most widely used method of brewing coffee. But today, a growing number coffee drinkers are switching back to the stove top coffee maker, either to conserve energy or because they prefer the stronger, more flavorful coffee it brews.
While there may be slight differences from brand to brand or model to model, most stove top coffee makers have the same basic parts: A lower container that holds the water, a long-stemmed funnel that holds the coffee grounds and a small carafe on top that holds the coffee once it has been brewed.
To brew coffee in your stove top coffee maker, first remove the top carafe and the funnel, and set them aside. Fill the lower container with enough cold, fresh water to brew the amount of coffee you want. Do not overfill. Most stove top coffee makers have a safety valve in the top, which is designed to prevent your coffee maker from boiling over. Be sure you do not fill the lower container past this valve.
Next, fill the funnel with your desired amount of coffee grounds. Usually, one tablespoon of coffee for every eight ounces of water is recommended. When the funnel is full, insert it back into the lower receptacle, stem end down.
Carefully screw the top carafe back onto the stove top coffee maker—securing it tightly but without forcing it to avoid damaging your coffee maker. Then set your coffee maker on your stove top, and turn on your stove.
Now, simply wait for the water to boil. As the water comes to a boil, steam builds up inside the lower container, creating enough pressure to force the water up into the carafe. Some models may have a small glass window in the lid so you can watch the coffee bubbling up into the carafe.
When your stove top coffee maker starts making loud, gurgling noises, air bubbles have begun to mix with the water—a sign that the lower container is empty, which means your coffee is done. At this point, remove your coffee maker from the stove immediately to prevent the coffee from boiling, which will spoil the taste. Unscrew the carafe from the rest of the coffee maker and serve the fresh coffee right away or, if you need to keep it warm for later, transfer it to a thermal carafe.
To ensure your stove top coffee maker always performs at its best, clean it carefully with mild soapy water after each use. Make sure the safety valve does not clog and that the seal on the screw top between the top carafe and bottom container is in good working condition.