Percolator Vs Moka - Which Brews Better

Percolator Vs Moka – Which Brews Better?

The battle of the brew Percolator Vs Moka pot. There are dozens, if not hundreds of ways of brewing coffee from around the world and the different cultures and traditions. There is no doubting the brewing process of these two methods are both classic methods and very, very similar, it is almost as if a moka pot is a mini percolator!

So let’s dig down and discuss moka pots Vs coffee percolators and which is best for you and which makes the best cup of coffee.

The Percolator Detailed

A coffee percolator was once common place in every middle class home across America as the go to way of coffee brewing.

In this segment we are going to detail the humble and classic coffee percolator.

What Is A Percolator?

A coffee percolator is a slightly different type of stovetop coffee maker than a moka pot. A coffee percolator has a continuous brewing cycle that cycles the almost boiled water or brewed coffee through the coffee grounds via a process that involves heat and gravity until the desired strength has been achieved.

Due to the continued cycling and brewing of the coffee, you need to pay attention to not over brewing and over extracting your coffee and ending up with an overtly bitter brew. You need to pay attention to the brewing process.

The heat source of percolators were once traditionally stovetop only, however, and thanks to technological advances, there are many good electric percolators available. Both electric and stovetop percolator, the brew methods remain the same, only the heat source changes.

The humble coffee percolator as we know it dates back to 1819 and a certain Parisian tinsmith called Joseph-Henry-Marie Laurens with a similar method patented in the US in 1865.

Coffee urns, which you may be more familiar with, function literally in the same manner, only they are much larger, with a coffee urn being able to percolate coffee for 100+ cups of coffee at a time.

What Is A Percolator
A percolator

Read: How to clean a Bialetti

How Does A Percolator Work?

A percolator coffee pot works by means of the natural rising of bubbles created by heating water. The hollow stem at the bottom, which effectively works like a pump, ensures a concentration of bubbles come together and forces the hot water in an upwards direction through the hollow tube.

The tube then distributes the hot water over and on to your ground coffee through the coffee basket, completely saturating them. The hot water then falls through the coffee grounds and back into the water below on a continued basis until you have the strength of coffee desired.

What Does Percolator Coffee Taste Like?

With a Percolator, you can expect strong coffee that is bitter tasting and robust. The bitter coffee taste is more notable with this brewing method than with others.

However, extract too early, and you can expect a weak (partially-brewed) coffee with a watery taste. Getting the flavor of percolator coffee just right take little practice.

Notably, the filter basket helps to enhance the flavor as there is no need for you to use a paper filter which would filter out the flavor enhancing coffee oils.

Does A Percolator Make Espresso?

This is a good question to be asking as espresso coffee does form the base of many milk based coffee drinks.

Unfortunately, you cannot make a real espresso or anything even close to an espresso style coffee with a percolator.

To get a proper espresso, you need a home espresso machine as you need the water pressure to produce the crema required.

Percolator Vs Moka
You can’t make an espresso with a percolator

The Advantages And Disadvantages Of Percolator Coffee

Everything has its plus points and their drawbacks. Let’s talk about the upsides and downsides of this brewing style.

The Advantages: 

  • It is very easy to use and brew large batches of coffee with.
  • They are cheap and won’t cost you too much.
  • It’s a very retro vintage and nostalgic way of making coffee.
  • You have a choice of a traditional stovetop or an electric percolator.
  • You can use the stovetop version on a camping stove.
  • You can brew to your preferred strength.

The Disadvantages:

  • You are prone to over extraction of your coffee.
  • You are prone to bitter coffee if you are not keeping an eye on your brew.
  • You have little to no control over the brewing process.
  • Your coffee boils – this is detrimental to the taste.

The Moka Pot Detailed

Let’s talk about and detail the Italian classic, the moka pot, which is often referred to as an Italian espresso maker or a stovetop espresso maker.

What Is A Moka Pot?

A moka pot is an Italian and continental European classic way of brewing coffee at home. I’ve lived on the continent for more than a decade and I can tell you there is literally not an Italian, Spanish or Portuguese home that does not have one.

Like the coffee Mocca, the stovetop moka pot, despite the spelling variation, was named after the Yemeni City of Mocha. Its invention is credited to the Italian Alfonso Bialetti, in 1933 and is the center piece of Italian coffee culture.

The original design model is still available and is sold by Bialetti under the name of Moka Express.

Typically, they are made from aluminum or stainless steel. Other variations made from copper are available also. The material used does affect the result of the final brew due to even or uneven distribution of heat.

Notably, like the percolator, they have modernised and come in both stove top and electric variations.

A moka pot
A moka pot

How Does A Moka Pot Work?

A moka pot functions in a very similar way to a percolator. It is almost as if it is a miniature percolator. It works on the principle of Darcy’s law and the ideal gas law where the water’s vapor pressure and the expanding gas is enough for the device to work.

Steam is not an absolute requirement. Water is filled in the lower part, called the boiler to below the level of the safety valve. Then the funnel, which doubles as a metal coffee filter is inserted.

The hot water then rises up and over the coffee beans via the funnel and then into the upper chamber. It is noted by coffee lovers and coffee experts Tristan Stephenson and James Hoffman that preheated water placed into the water chamber, the lowest chamber, results in a better cup of coffee, while boiling water can be detrimental to the taste.

Unlike a percolator which requires coarse grounds, a fine grind is used with a moka pot. The end result will depend on how tightly the gounds are packed and the brew time.

What Is Moka Coffee, And What Does Moka Pot Coffee Taste Like?

A Moka coffee is simply a coffee brewed and made with a moka pot. A moka pot coffee has a full-bodied strong and rich taste with notes of caramel and chocolate surfacing. There is a touch of bitterness as well.

You can brew an espresso like coffee beverage with this device. Note, I said “espresso like” and not an espresso. With practice, you could get away with making some good espresso based coffee drinks like a latte, a cortado, a flat white.

Unless you are making coffee for some serious coffee snobs, you can get away with using moka pot coffee as the base for the espresso drinks that I have mentioned.

What Is Moka Coffee
A moka pot makes great coffee

The Advantages And Disadvantages Of The Moka Pot

Let’s now talk about the pros and cons of moka pot.

The Advantages: 

  • It is very easy to use.
  • You can make good, strong coffee
  • It is easy to clean.
  • Consistency, you can get great consistency with a moka pot.
  • It is cheap.
  • You can make a close resemblance to and Espresso.
  • You can use the espresso from it to make other espresso based drinks.
  • Two choices, stovetop or a more modern electric version.

The Disadvantages:

  • The resulting coffee is very strong, not to everyone’s liking.
  • You can only make small batches, typically 4 to 6 small cups at a time.
  • There is a little bit of a learning curve until you get the hang of using a moka pot and getting that consistency.

Which One Should You Get Your Hands On?

This is not a decision that I or any other blogger can make for you. It all depends on what kind of coffee that you like, what types of coffee you want to make, as if you want to take the brewer with you on a camping trip.

Note: You can take both a percolator and a moka pot with you, you need to opt for the stovetop version of both.

For me, my choice is an electric moka pot all day long as I can make a variety of different coffee types, and it suits my coffee preference for strong coffee. Plus, the ability to easily take it with me on a weekend non-camping trip away (I’m not an outdoors camping type) and make myself a  cappuccino or good strong Americano when I get there.

Frappé-Ing It All Up –  Percolator Vs Moka

In the classic battle of the brew between the percolator Vs Moka the winner is the one that best suits you and your own personal taste and needs. My own preference is the Italian moka coffee maker as that suits me best.

…and in my opinion makes the better tasting coffee.

Coffee is love, it's more than love — it's a passion of mine. I've had the luck to have travelled and enjoyed the most exotic of coffee's and unique flavors, brewing methods and techniques of making the perfect coffee from Thai hill tribe coffee to Indonesian volcanic coffee, Malaysian coffee that comes in a tea bag and the array of flavors in Vietnam, from Vanilla to Orange to Coconut to Avocado to even salt coffee and the famous egg coffee. The best part of my coffee adventures is getting to mix with the locals over a nice brew and learning how they make it! I'm cited and referenced on Google Scholar for the topic of coffee.

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