Brew Battle! Percolator Vs Drip Coffee What Is The Best?

Percolator Vs Drip Coffee – Which Is Best For You?

Last updated on November 28th, 2023 at 15:21

It’s a battle of the brew Percolator Vs Drip Coffee!

Everything you need to know about both these brewing methods, from the brewing technique and brew time to the grind size and pros and cons of each.

This article is the most honest direct comparison of the two methods of brewing coffee, so you know which is best for you.

Naturally, I state my opinion where appropriate. This is only my opinion based on my expertise and love for coffee. It is in no way intended to sway you.

Let’s crack on and see what is brewing.

Percolator Vs Drip Coffee: What Is A Coffee Percolator

A coffee percolator functions in a very similar way to an Italian favorite, the Moka pot. It brews coffee by means of continually heating and reheating hot, almost boiling water until it has reached the strength and taste profile the brewer desires.

It was invented by Count Rumford, an American scientist and soldier and was patented by James Mason in 1865. It was the preferred way for Americans to enjoy coffee for the best part of a century.

Percolator coffee was very popular from the 1860s and until the early to mid 1970s and was replaced by automatic drip coffee makers.

A percolator functions exactly the way coffee urns do, just on a much smaller scale. One of the problems with a percolator coffee maker is the coffee grounds are often exposed to high temperatures for a prolonged period of time.

The continued recycling and effectively speaking rebrewing of the coffee in this method can result in coffee that is over brewed, unless, of course, you remove the grounds. Good control of the brewing process can prevent this brewing method from over brewing and over extraction.

It is definitely a brewing process that you need to keep an eye on.

What Is A Coffee Percolator
An Electric Percolator

Read: How to clean Capresso coffee maker with vinegar

Drip Coffee Vs Percolator: What Is A Drip Coffee

The drip coffee maker signalled the end of the percolator after a century of use and is something that became the staple of diners, roadside café’s and many kitchens all over America and Europe in the 1970s and 1980s.

The design of a drip coffee maker completely automates the process of making coffee. This completely eliminates errors on the part of the brewer.

In theory, a drip coffee maker functions on the same theory and principle as pour-over coffee makers.

Water is heated in the drip coffee maker and then drips slowly and evenly through the ground coffee, resulting in a smooth brew that is mild and not too strong. Keep it in your mind that the warming plate, a huge advantage and plus point over other brewing techniques, can have negative effects on the taste.

What Is A Drip Coffee'
An automatic drip coffee maker

How Easy Is A Percolator And Drip Coffee Maker To Use?

There is nothing at all difficult with either brewing method to use. Both a percolator and drip coffee maker are very easy to use for complete beginners. All you need to know is the grind size and how many grounds to use.

You really can’t go wrong with either method.

Drip Coffee Maker

The drip coffee makers are the easiest of the two as the whole process is automatic. It really is as easy as adding your coffee grounds and filling up the water container, letting it brew away, and you will have a perfect cup of coffee every single time with no complications.

Programmable drip coffee makers are just as easy and have a few more benefits, like the ability to keep your coffee warm at the temperature you like and adjust the strength of your brew. You will just need to program this once on your programmable drip coffee machine.

Stovetop Percolator

Stovetop Percolators are just as easy, but they have a certain knack to using them and getting great coffee. Just a little practice and experimentation to get it right, and nothing to it. Mostly, it is just getting your variables right to get your coffee spot on every time.

This is why you should weigh your grounds and the amount of water used.


with stovetop percolators, you have to keep an eye on it, or you will end up over brewing your coffee. The solution to that is the more modern percolators which regulate the brew temperature and remove some of the errors that you can make with a very convenient keep warm facility that keeps your coffee warm without over brewing.

Percolator Vs Drip Coffee
A stovetop percolator

Percolator Vs Drip Coffee: Caffeine Content

Which has the cup of coffee that packs the most punch – Drip Machine or a Percolator? This is good to know just not for a morning pick me up, also not get too much caffeine late in the evening.

The amount of caffeine will vary depending on the beans used, how much of them and the size of your cuppa Joe. On average, based on an 8 ounce (240 ml) percolator, will have 200 mg of caffeine while an 8 ounce serving of filter coffee will contain around 165 mg per ounce (240 ml) serving.

Grind Size And Brew Time

To make a good cuppa with both methods, you need to use the correct grind size. If you get this wrong, you could end up with a cup of coffee that is under brewed or over brewed.

Using the proper grind size means the proper contact area of water is just right. A smaller grid size means there is a greater contact area and a stronger brew, while a larger grind size means a reduced contact area and a longer brew time.

The correct grind for percolator coffee, you should use a coarse grind size with a brew time of 5 to 8 minutes. A drip coffee maker you need to use a medium grind size of grounds is what you are looking for with a brew time of 4 to 6 minutes.

The brew time will vary depending on how much you are making.

Grind Size And Brew Time
You must use the correct grind size

The Taste Test: Percolator Vs Drip Coffee

Both create a brew that has a distinctive taste; this is due to the two brewing methods being very different. A percolator creates a more bold taste which is caused by the hot water recirculating over the coffee grounds many times. This is also why there is a greater caffeine kick in percolator coffee and a bolder taste.

The taste of drip coffee has a much milder, smoother flavor. Brewing drip coffee is at its core the same as pour over coffee, with some referring to it as an automated pour over coffee. The taste of drip coffee makers will vary depending on the type of coffee filter that you use.

An unbleached paper filter will have slight papery notes in your coffee where a bleached paper filter will not. Also, flat bottom filters will have far less of an even flavor than cone filters.

No matter what type of paper filter you use, they will filter out the coffee oils, resulting in a coffee that is less tasty than cloth or metal filters.

For better flavor all round, use a metal filter if you can. If you can’t use a metal coffee filter, use a cloth one. Keeping your coffee pot away from the warming plate will also aid the taste.

One of the advantages of drip coffee is the consistent coffee taste; it is the same every time.

Pros And Cons Of Percolator Coffee

There are a number of benefits associated with percolator coffee, which are as follows:

  • Percolators Are Very Easy To Maintain

There are no moving parts to a percolator, be that electric or stovetop and can be taken apart easily. Thus, they are easily cleaned. There is no running of cleaning solutions or white vinegar through the system or rinsing of the system. The whole percolator is very easy to clean, incredibly easy to do, child’s play.

  • Percolators Bring Deep Rich Flavor

One of the plus points that coffee lovers point to and why percolators still continue to be popular is the deep, rich, strong coffee flavor that is not achieved by other brewing methods. This is due to this brew method using hot brew temperature and a continual brew cycle.

If you don’t keep your eye on your percolator you are in danger of serving up a better over brewed and over extracted coffee.

  • The Percolator Coffee Is Universal

Percolator coffee is very practical and universal. Like a French press or a Moka pot it is easily put in your luggage and travels with it. The more traditional one you can even use while out camping and get super fresh strong coffee.

  • Percolators Give You Real Hot Coffee

Because your coffee is being brewed at a high temperature, you can, of course, enjoy a proper hot coffee. Plus, a nice bonus with the electric versions is you can set your percolator to keep your coffee at a hot temperature.

This is certainly a plus point for a cold winter morning!

Not everything is perfect about a percolator coffee. Let’s talk about the drawbacks.

  • There Is A Risk Of Over Extraction

Over extraction and ending up with bitter coffee is more of a problem with traditional stovetop percolators. With an electric percolator, you might over brew the first few times once you get your settings for your own personal taste fixed.

You need to keep a watchful eye on your stovetop percolator every time that you use it. With your electric percolator, just until you get to know your machine and its setting, then you are good to go. You set it to brew how you like your coffee and set it to keep your coffee warm.

  • They Require Practice And Patience

Following on from the above point, percolators require a bit of time, patience and practice getting the brewing technique spot on and exactly as you like and love your coffee to be. Once you have it mastered, you will be brewing strong, deep, flavorful coffee with it every single time.

  • They Can Be A Little Messy

This is really only a problem or issue with a stovetop percolator. If you don’t take your stovetop percolator off the boil, it will continue to brew and boil the water with your coffee spilling out and on, literally all over your stove until you take it off the heat.

Not a nice thing to be cleaning up when all you wanted was a Cuppa Joe.

With an electric version, this is not an issue; just don’t overfill the water chamber!

Pros And Cons Of Drip Coffee

Drip coffee makers have a lot of plus points as well, mainly related to ease of use, consistency and quality of brew.

  • Smooth Clean Tasting Brew

Your coffee with a drip coffee machine will result in a good, smooth, and clean tasting coffee. There is very little chance of anything going wrong with over brewed coffee or under brewed. You will get great coffee every time.

  • Drip Brewers Are Easy To Use

There is literally nothing at all to using modern drip coffee makers. Literally it is push button stuff. All you need to do is use the correct grind size and correct amount of grounds and don’t forget to use a filter.

That is all there is to it.

  •  They Are Easy To Clean

Drip coffee makers are very easy to clean, much easier than percolators. Mainly, all you need to do is clean the exterior of the machine, the pot and the coffee filter tray. The water tank is easily cleaned by running a simple cycle every so often with white vinegar and collecting the vinegar in the coffee pot.

This cycle will clean everything. Just remember to rinse well after cleaning. So easy.

Brew Size

Both percolators and drip coffee brewers come in different sizes and capacities. Typically, a percolator can range from 4 to 20 8 ounce (240 ml) cups while a drip coffee maker can range from 4 to 14 8 ounce (240 ml) cups.

However, if you need to make a lot of coffee quickly, then a percolator is going to be a much better choice as a drip coffee maker can take a while.

The Cost

A stovetop percolator can range from US$30 for a reasonably good one to US$80 for a high-end, top-quality electric percolator. A reasonably good electric percolator can be bought for US$45.

A high-end drip brewer can go for US$120 with cheap drip coffee makers available for as little as US$30.

Drip Vs Percolator Coffee: Which Is More Portable?

A drip brewer is not exactly something to put in your luggage or rucksack with you for a weekend away or out camping. This machine is just for your kitchen; it is not at all portable.

The percolator is much more portable, but only if it is of the stove top kind. An electric percolator is pointless to take away for the weekend with you.

Percolator Vs Drip Coffee Maker: The Winner Is…

Due to making a stronger coffee, and a more delicious coffee, my personal preference is for percolator coffee, in particular, an electric percolator. The coffee brewing method makes more cups of coffee and simply makes a much better quality cup of coffee.

Just be careful of over brewing and end up with a bitter taste to your brew.

Frequently Asked Questions About Percolator Vs Drip Coffee

Is Percolator Coffee Better Than Drip?

Which coffee and type of coffee best is a matter of opinion and very subjective. For some people, percolator coffee is better than drip coffee, while for others drip coffee has a better taste than percolated coffee.

What is absolutely certain is that percolator coffee brews stronger coffee, a cup of coffee that has more caffeine.

A percolated coffee has more caffeine and a stronger taste due to being double brewed whereas a drip coffee maker does not double brew the coffee. The result is a slightly weaker tasting coffee and one that has a crisp and clean taste due to the use of a paper filter.

Is Coffee Better From A Percolator?

Many people enjoy the taste of percolator coffee and consider it to be better due to the rich, smooth anc creamy taste. The water brewed during the process of percolation is at a higher temperature and extracts more of the high temperature flavors from the coffee grounds, resulting in a strong and bold coffee.

Is Percolator Coffee Unhealthy?

Percolator coffee is not bad or unhealthy. There are many studies that point to coffee being very healthy for you due to the abundance of antioxidants and the nutritional profile.

Unfiltered coffee contains kahweol and cafestol which may raise your levels of cholesterol but have anticancer properties. If the slight increase in cholesterol is a concern for you, then you can use a donut-shaped coffee filter for your percolator.

Why Is Drip Coffee Better For You?

The major plus point of drip coffee is the simple fact that it is a fully automatic way of making coffee. You add the coffee grounds, ensure the water reservoir has fresh clean water and push a button.

There is no danger at all of over brewing, which can occur with a percolator. Naturally, both coffees and brewing methods will contain the same nutritional profile and levels of antioxidants. Drip coffee will have a reduced amount of cafestol and kahweol, which may indicate that it is slightly better for you.

Do You Put Hot Or Cold Water In A Percolator?

When you are making a pot (or cup) of percolator coffee, start with cold water. You can use any water that you want, but I strongly advise that you use at least filtered water and better still, bottled water.

The better quality of water that you use, the better your coffee will be. Water is the main ingredient in coffee!

Is Percolated Coffee Higher In Caffeine?

Yes, this brewing method double brews your coffee and the result of this is a coffee that is highly caffeinated. Percolated coffee is higher in caffeine than many other brewing methods.

Is A Coffee Percolator Better Than A Drip?

I find a coffee percolator to be better as drip coffee is clean and crisp. I like my coffee to taste bold and strong. If you like your coffee to be crisp and clean, a drip coffee maker will be more suited for you.

Why Is Percolated Coffee Better?

Percolated coffee is better due to the high brewing temperature and being double brewed as it recycles through your coffee maker. Your coffee has a stronger, bolder and more intense taste.

Frappé-Ing It All Up – Percolator Vs Drip Coffee

In the battle of the brew, an electric percolator wins hands down. However, if you are prone to a camping trip or two, then a stainless steel stovetop percolator would be the better choice. However, neither a drip coffee maker nor a percolator make amazing coffee in my opinion.

Who won in this Percolator Vs Drip Coffee battle for you?

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Derek Marshall, a certified barista by the Specialty Coffee Association possesses over two decades of experience in specialty coffee shops. He holds professional certifications for coffee brewing and barista skills. Derek is also an author with authoritative books covering various coffee topics including specialty coffee, sustainability and coffee, coffee brewing, coffee recipes, coffee cocktails and books focusing on Brazilian coffee, Vietnamese coffee, Indonesian coffee and Malaysian coffee. As a barista for over two decades, Derek Marshall has worked in specialty coffee shops across the United Kingdom, Spain, Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, Indonesia, and Vietnam. His expertise extends to the distinct coffee cultures, specialty beverages, and brewing techniques of each nation. Functioning as a coffee consultant, Derek charges US$50 per hour. To learn more about Derek Marshall and Latte Love Brew, visit his About Me Page. For coffee inquiries, contact him at +34-639-410-375 or, mentioning your name and location

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