Percolator vs Drip Coffee Maker

Percolator vs Drip Coffee Maker: Which One Is Right for You?

Percolator vs Drip Coffee Maker: Which One Is Right for You? As a coffee lover on the search for a coffee maker that makes the best cup of Joe, you will plausibly come across percolators and drip coffee makers, given that they are two of the most popular coffee brewing methods. While the percolators are more traditional coffee brewers that have been in use for more than a century and drip coffee makers are a more recent invention, many coffee drinkers still find it harder to choose between them. Both make some amazing coffee, and each has its pros and cons, and understanding them is the only way to choose what brewing method will work best for you.

With our detailed comparison below, you should have more than enough information to choose your ideal coffee-making method confidently. This is a supply of differences among coffee connoisseurs and casual drinkers. Percolated coffee can taste slightly more bitter and be less effective at removing the acid from coffee beans, whereas drip coffee can create a much lighter flavor and can stay warm for hours in the machine.

Percolator vs Drip Coffee Maker

Percolators and drip coffee makers are quite straightforward methods of making coffee, but they work differently and produce different brew qualities and tastes. There is still a lot more to them, but the points below should make their differences clear enough.

  • Overview and Origin:

The coffee-making method you choose between the percolator and drip coffee maker will ultimately depend on your preferences. However, as you try to make up your mind, you should always start by understanding what each is all about and its origin.

Percolator Coffee Maker


Coffee percolators have been universally praised for their ability to make lots of coffee at a go and are often one of the most preferred methods for making coffee for large groups. A typical percolator will consist of a larger metal pot, a basket for the grinds, and a hollow metal tube at the center. And it is a more manual method of making coffee that requires you to add water and grounds to respective chambers and place the pot over a stove or plug it in if it is an electric model.

Percolators have been in use in American homes for more than a century now, and many people remember them for the bubbling sound they make when brewing coffee. These traditional coffee makers were invented by an American soldier between 1810 and 1814 but patented in the USA by James Mason in 1865 before being adapted to stove-top coffee makers in 1889. The percolator continued to be a staple in American kitchens since its invention and only faded away in the 1970s when the automatic drip coffee makers came into the picture.

Advantages of Percolator
  • Easy to Clean
  • Great for Travel
  • Very Affordable

Drip Coffee Maker

Drip Coffee Percolator vs Drip Coffee Maker

Drip coffee makers are more automated coffee makers consisting of a built-in water tank, heating element, and paper filters to hold coffee grounds. Hot water then uses gravity to flow through the fine or medium coffee grinds to make coffee. With these coffee makers, the process is mostly automated, and so you can expect more consistent results. This consistency and reliability are what make it a little more popular than the percolator. 

The drip coffee makers have been around for a little over four decades, given that they came into the brewing world in the 1970s. However, despite being relatively new, they have almost completely taken over from the traditional percolators.

Advantages of Drip Coffee
  • Very Convenient
  • Full Automation
  • Warming Plates

How to Make Coffee? (Percolator vs Drip Coffee Maker)

Whether you have the best coffee maker or not, coffee making will always boil down to knowing how to use the machine to make great coffee. With percolators and drip coffee makers, this is still the case, and although they employ different brewing mechanisms, both are still quite easy to use.


Percolators are hard to miss when making coffee as they produce a distinctive bubbling sound that emanates from the boiling water and hollow tube at its center. These coffee makers work by forcing the boiling water up through the center tube and onto the basket’s coffee grounds. The coffee maker cycles the water through the coffee grounds to create a strong and robust brew.

Here is a step-by-step breakdown of how to make coffee on a percolator.

  1. Add water to the pot up to the maximum level.
  2. Fill the basket with coarsely ground coffee.
  3. Put the percolator on the stove or plug it in if it is an electric model.
  4. Allow it to brew for 5-10 minutes.
  5. Pour coffee into a cup while hot.

Drip Coffee

Unlike the percolator, an automatic drip coffee maker will provide a quieter brewing experience, but it still has a motor, it will still make some noise. Also, drip coffee makers will only pass the water through the grinds once, which means that the resulting brew will be milder. When using a drip coffee maker, here are the steps to follow.

  1. Fill up the water tank.
  2. Add medium coffee grounds to the filter.
  3. Place the carafe under the filter basket.
  4. Push the brew button or switch, and the coffee should be ready in around 5 minutes.
  5. Brewing Capacity

According to the model and manufacturer, the brewing capacity of both the percolator and drip coffee maker will vary. Typically, percolators are associated with making coffee for larger groups because most home use models should make 12-cups of coffee with ease and on one go. However, you can still get smaller models designed to make as little as two cups of coffee. With the drip coffee maker, an affordable home-use model is only good enough for making coffee for around two people. But, these coffee makers are also available in different capacities as you can get models that can make anywhere from 1 to 16 cups of coffee at a go. The only catch with drip coffee makers is that the high-capacity ones can be quite pricey.

  • Ease of Portability (Percolator vs Drip Coffee Maker)

Percolator vs Drip Coffee Maker

If you are on the market for a coffee maker that you can easily carry around or tag along with you for your camping trips and outdoor excursions, a percolator is your best bet. Stovetop percolators will not require any electricity to work, which means you can make coffee by simply placing the percolator over the campfire. Given that percolators are mostly metal and with no delicate or fragile components, you can easily pack and transport them.

And the metal is also rugged enough to withstand the abuse that comes with traveling and outdoor use. On the other hand, with the drip coffee maker, the machine is relatively bulkier and hence harder to carry around, and you can only use it where there is electricity. The good news is that a simple and more portable manual pour-over setup can also make some drip coffee.

  • Ease of Use and Cleaning (Percolator vs Drip Coffee Maker)

Both percolator and drip coffee makers do not take a lot of effort to use. With the percolator, filling up the respective compartments with water and coffee and then putting the pot in a heat source is probably all you need to do. While still on percolators, you should not take your eyes off the pot to avoid over-extraction, which can easily happen and lead to bitter-tasting coffee. And this means that percolators will require a little more work.

Drip coffee making, on the other hand, the machine does everything for you once you fill it with water and add coffee grounds, and there is little likelihood of over-extraction. For the ease of cleaning, the percolator takes the day as most can be easily taken apart for a thorough cleaning, unlike a drip coffee maker who is only cleaned by brewing a cleaning solution.

  • Brew Strength and Flavor (Percolator vs Drip Coffee Maker)

Coffee Brew Strength and Flavor

Percolators will generally provide a stronger coffee, given that water runs through the coffee several times. But with a drip coffee maker, the brew will be milder because water only flows through the finely ground coffee once. Also, with a percolator, no paper filter can trap the mineral oils responsible for coffee’s rich flavor. However, several water cycles through the coffee can mean that percolator coffee will not have enough flavor depth due to over-extraction. Brews from a drip coffee maker will be lighter and have a smoother mouthfeel, and you can taste more subtleties in the flavor.

Read more about Best Drip Coffee Makers 2022: Best Choices & Buyer’s Guide.

Percolator vs Drip Coffee Maker: Which One To Pick?

Both percolator and drip coffee makers are relatively affordable coffee makers that will make amazing brews that will suit different people’s tastes. If you are looking for a coffee maker that makes big batches of stronger coffee and is designed to be more travel-friendly, a percolator will work best for you. However, if you hate the bitter taste of over-extracted coffee, look for an easier to use coffee maker, and want to get maximum depth of flavor, go for a drip coffee maker.

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