Percolator vs Drip Coffee: Which is Better?

Percolator or drip coffee? Which traditional brewing method do you prefer? We tell you everything you need to know!

One of the oldest debates in the coffee loving world is which traditional brewing method is better: Percolator vs Drip coffee. 

You are probably wondering which method is better. Today we explore the answer to that question by sharing with you all you need to know about drip coffee versus percolator. May the best brewing method win!

Ready to add a new coffee brewing option to your kitchen now? Check out our pick for best percolator and drip coffee maker. 

Before we get into the battle of the brewing methods, let’s talk a bit about how each of these brewing methods work.

What is a Percolator?

Percolator coffee poured into coffee cup.
Percolated coffee is a popular brewing method made by stove, fire or other heat sources.

A coffee percolator is a pot used to brew coffee grounds by cycling boiling water through coffee grounds. Coffee percolators are typically placed on a heat source, such as a stove or fire. There are also electric percolators that self heat. 

Coffee percolators were one of the most popular coffee brewing methods until automatic drip coffee makers hit the market and took the coffee drinking world by storm.

Percolators are often criticized for exposing coffee to higher temperatures than most other brewing methods. This can cause the perculator to recirculate the already brewed coffee through the coffee beans resulting in what is called over extraction. Over extraction is another way of saying your coffee will be really strong but also very bitter.

Lovers of the percolator brewing method suggest over brewing can be avoided by careful management of the brewing process.

What is a Drip Coffee Maker?

Drip coffee maker brewing coffee into a carafe.
Drip coffee makers are easy to use and brew larger batches of coffee using a carafe.

In 2020, a drip coffee maker was regularly used by 41% of coffee drinkers in the United States to make a cup of coffee. Although this brewing method has been partially eclipsed by the very popular single serving brewing methods such as Keurig or Nespresso, the drip coffee maker is still very widely used. 

Drip coffee machines heat water to boiling, causing steam to rise through the machine’s tubes where it reaches the coffee grounds and is filtered into the waiting coffee carafe. Drip coffee makers are typically very easy to operate, with brewing being as simple as measuring the correct water to coffee ground ratio, placing each in the machine and pressing a button to brew. 

This method is very hands off in that there is no need to monitor each step of the brewing process. The drip coffee maker will not over extract while brewing, therefore, avoiding overly bitter tasting coffee. Critics of the drip coffee maker say it lacks portability and requires more counter space due to its large size. 

Percolator vs Drip Coffee Maker

Now that we have established what each brewing method is, let’s examine a few things to consider when deciding between a drip coffee maker versus a percolator.

Taste Preference

Percolators brew dark, strong coffee due to the fact that it re-brews your coffee. If you are a fan of bold, kick-you-in-the-seat-of-your-pants coffee then a percolator is for you! The percolator’s mechanics means that the longer you brew your coffee the stronger it will be but it will lack depth of flavor due to the fact that the percolator over extracts the coffee beans. The stronger the coffee brewed in your percolator the more over extracted the coffee is resulting in a very bitter cup.

One advantage of over extracted coffee is that it also extracts more caffeine, which means you will get a larger jolt of caffeine from coffee brewed in a percolator versus a drip coffee machine.

If you don’t like bitter or overly strong coffee then you will want to steer clear of a percolator. Instead a drip coffee maker will provide you with a mellower, smoother cup. This is largely due to the fact that a drip coffee maker runs water through the brewing cycle once resulting in a coffee that is not as strong. 


Another question to ask yourself is how much coffee you need to brew at one time. If you are planning on serving coffee to a large group frequently, a percolator may be a good option. Some percolators have the ability to brew up to twelve cups at one time. 

Coffee makers, however, have come a long way and have the ability to serve larger groups as well. You may want to consider a drip coffee brewer with a larger capacity if you do plan on brewing for more than 1 to 2 coffee drinkers at a time regularly. 


Hands down an automatic coffee brewing machine is more convenient than a percolator. Even the bare bones drip coffee brewer will regulate heat and brew time automatically when making your coffee. 

The one exception to this is if you want a coffee brewing method that can be used while away from a kitchen, such as camping or hiking. The percolator is much more portable and therefore more convenient for these types of activities. 

If you are interested in a convenient and portable coffee brewing option while enjoying the great outdoors we highly recommend you consider this Aeropress Coffee and Espresso Maker.


Drip coffee makers are offered in a wide range of price points from very cheap to very expensive. Typically the bare bones models are very affordable like this Mr Coffee drip coffee brewer with price increasing based on the features you choose such as the Cuisinart Coffee Maker. Upgraded features available are varied and can include built in grinders, touchscreens or milk steamers. 

Percolators can be very affordable if you opt for an economical choice such as this Presto Percolator. However, just like a drip coffee maker the price point of percolators will increase based on any upgraded size or features you may want.

Percolator or Drip Coffee?

Final Thoughts

Drip coffee makers are a more convenient option for day to day use and come in a variety of price points. Percolators require more time and attention, but are much more portable with the ability to easily take it with you when you want to brew coffee away from home. 

To help with your decision, let’s recap the pros and cons of each type of coffee brewer:


Does not require paper filtersCoffee can be bitter
Very portableRequires more attention when brewing
AffordableOver extracts while brewing
Great for outdoors/camping
Brews strong bold coffee

Drip Coffee Maker

Brews coffee easily Typically needs paper filters
Lots of extra features to choose fromCan be more expensive
Coffee stays warm for several hoursLess Portable
Brews mellow, smoother coffee

Both the drip coffee maker and percolate have advantages and disadvantages. If you are looking for convenience and a great coffee flavor a drip coffee maker is absolutely the way to go. If you are looking for a portable option to take with you while enjoying time away from home, such as camping, the percolator is a better choice. 

Regardless of what you choose, both options will result in hot coffee in your cup! We hope you enjoy every last drop. Cheers!

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