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Percolator vs Drip Coffee Maker

Beth Huston Profile image

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Updated August 28, 2022

Comparing a percolator vs a drip coffee maker requires understanding the brewing process of these appliances. While the quality of coffee grounds and hot water temperature matter, the brew method always matters most.


  • An automatic drip coffee maker is the most straightforward coffee maker to use, requiring only ground coffee and a full water chamber.
  • Percolator coffee produces strong coffee by steeping coffee grounds using a water chamber and pressure from boiling water.
  • The most significant difference between an auto-drip and a percolator coffee pot is the complexity that goes into either individual method of coffee making.

Comparing different models is the only way to ensure you receive the best fit for you. Do plenty of research to find the best coffee maker for your lifestyle.

Comparing Coffee Brewing Methods

The most significant difference between these two methods is the chance of human error. An automatic drip machine removes this factor almost wholly, while percolator coffee relies on your constant attention. There are a few other essential categories to go over, however.

If you aren’t feeling either option by the end of this article, you might want to consider a different classic coffee maker. We have an article comparing a Moka pot vs coffee makers, and other types of coffee makers. You may want to look into it.

Insider Tip

Prioritize stainless steel when shopping for your next coffee maker because of its hygienic, non-porous nature.

Perfect Brew Strength and Flavor

Perhaps surprisingly, dip coffee machines come first in this category. That isn’t because the percolating process doesn’t create delicious coffee. Instead, it’s a matter of both quality and quantity. As far as coffee brewing methods go, the coffee drip machine will churn out perfect cups of coffee over and over again.

On the other hand, stovetop percolators take time and practice to learn. If you mess up any part of the process, you risk ruining your cup of coffee.

If you’re somebody always on the go, then portable types of percolators and coffee machines are worth considering. Comparing a percolator vs a French press for camping will help you make a better investment.

The Complexity of the Brewing Process

Making stronger coffee comes at a cost, and that is a more complex extraction process. The coffee percolator began falling out of favor as soon as drip coffee makers made their market debut. A significant reason for this is that brewing coffee with a coffee percolator requires precision attention to detail.

Drip coffee makers are the clear winner for this category because of their easy usage.

Overall Cup of Coffee

The taste of drip coffee leaves something to be desired. Nobody wants their coffee to leave a bitter taste behind. Percolator coffee makers are likely to produce an unpleasantly strong taste and bitterness. Coffee grounds are the biggest contributors to the overall flavor of coffee, but your brew method matters, too.

Any coffee lover will tell you that variety keeps their morning cup interesting. Proper extraction of flavor is crucial for ensuring you don’t end up with bitter coffee. Drip coffee makers provide both variety and the presence of delicious, subtle flavors.


Pouring heated water through coffee grounds can cause them to bubble up, so use caution when making pour-over coffee, so overflowing doesn’t occur.


What coffee grind should be used with an electric percolator?

When electric coffee percolators, avoid a coarse grind. Instead, aim for a slightly finer grind. Even a medium grind will do just fine to make delicious, bold coffee.

How can I clean my coffee percolator?

Modern percolators are easy to clean. You’ll want to use a water mixture and a cleaning solution suitable to your basic percolator type. Fill it about halfway and allow it to run a few cycles with that mixture.

Do electric coffee percolators coffee have more caffeine?

Electric coffee percolators typically end up with less caffeine content than regular drip coffee. This is because modern drip coffee makers use a perfected process that extracts more from amazing coffee.

Should I drink old coffee that’s been left out?

If you’ve ever had instant coffee, you’ll understand immediately why the taste of drip coffee is so appealing. Even coffee brewed from the best coffee beans will degrade if left out. Even an instant coffee will taste delicious compared to an old, stale pot.

STAT: Over 2 million espresso makers were sold in 2019 through retail channels in the United States. (source)

Beth Huston Profile image