Percolator vs Drip Coffee Maker Comparison

By Brooke Davis •  Updated: 12/07/21 •  8 min read

Portafilter helps coffee lovers brew like a barista. When you use our links, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.

Percolators are the most traditional coffee-making tools which had served humanity for centuries when it came to brewing a quick cup of joe.

However, post the invention of drip coffee-making techniques in the early 20th century, coffee drinkers transitioned in terms of the brewing techniques they commonly used. 

Both are cost-effective, handy methods of making coffee and have the ability to make those dreaded early mornings a little more bearable.

However, many of us are still in doubt, wondering which one is better in the percolator vs drip coffee maker debate. 

Many people enjoy the more nuanced aromas of a fresh coffee brewed cup, while others prefer the teeth-clenching effect of a strong brew on the palate. 

Because the taste and texture of your coffee are primarily reliant on the mechanics of the machine, each one gives a different coffee experience.

Percolator vs Drip
Percolator vs Drip

Let’s take a deep dive into the topic and find out about both of them in detail. 

Introduction to Percolator Coffee

The coffee percolator was a crucial step forward in searching for better coffee, even if it may seem antiquated in today’s environment. 

Decoction coffee brewing was a standard method of brewing coffee. Before the coffee percolator, people widely used decoction coffee.

People who came up with the coffee percolator were trying to brew coffee without any coffee grounds.

Studies also show many similarities between the percolator coffee and French press methods of making coffee.

How does a percolator work?

There is nothing better about percolated coffee than its simplicity and ease of use, not to mention how simple they are to set up.

A percolator is a type of coffee maker that uses a metal basket filter to hold the coffee grounds of the coffee beans.

The water rises through a small tube, condenses at the top of the percolator coffee maker, and then falls into the basket, saturating the coffee grounds.

After the water has absorbed all soluble components of the bean, it returns to the coffee pot. 

A percolator will brew percolator coffee multiple times before it is ready to be removed from the heat source.

Paper filters come in various sizes, some designed for finer coffee grounds, while others have relatively more significant perforations.

They usually keep the coffee’s oils from reaching your cup.

Since a fine grind usually goes well with percolated coffee, coarsely ground coffee is more effective for metal filters.

Advantages of Percolator

  • Time-tested and straightforward to operate
  • There is no need for paper filters
  • Very portable and small in size
  • Inexpensive
  • Excellent for camping
  • It gives a robust flavor

Disadvantages of Percolator

  • The coffee might have a scorched or bitter taste
  • Requires time taking setup and monitoring
  • There are no special features such as programming or warming plates.

Introduction to Drip Coffee Maker

Drip Coffee Maker vs Percolator
Drip Coffee Maker vs Percolator

The arrival of the drip coffee machine marked the end of basic percolator coffee. 

The drip machine was designed to be completely automated to reduce the risk of human error and allow customers to do other things while their coffee was brewing.

Even though most drip coffee makers are not as powerful as other methods, it enables you to appreciate the subtleties of coffee.

How does a drip coffee maker work?

How does a drip coffee maker work

There are three separate chambers in a drip coffee machine: one for heating, one for brewing, and one for holding the coffee. As a result, the water only needs to pass through the machine once before soaking the beans. It’s essential to fill the reservoir with room temperature water and insert the coffee grounds in a filter basket covered with metal or paper filtration.

Note: If there is grit at the bottom of your cup, it is not a good sign.


  • The convenience of freshly brewed coffee at the touch of a button
  • Extra functions like programming and auto-shutoff are available 
  • A drip machine can brew large pots of coffee
  • It is possible to develop a more subtle taste if kept hot for many hours.


  • Requires regular cleaning
  • It doesn’t do well without filters
  • Inexpensive
  • Less portable and take up a significant amount of counter space.

Percolator vs Drip Coffee Makers

Specifications PercolatorAutomatic Drip Coffee Maker 
Type of MachineStovetop or ElectricElectric
Ground Coffee SizeCoarse Medium
Brew Coffee Strength  StrongMild
Brewing Coffee Time5-8 mins3-10 mins
Brewing Capacity4-20 cups 4-10 cups 


Can drip coffee be used in a percolator?

Can drip coffee be used in a percolator

A percolator should not use drip coffee grounds. Because of the paper filter in a drip coffee maker, it can handle a finer grind. The metal filter in percolators will enable this fine grind to pass through, and you will end up with a bitter taste of coffee grounds in your cup of joe.

Does anyone still use a percolator?

Does anyone still use a percolator

The use of coffee percolators is decreasing with time. Percolated coffee often exposes the ground coffee beans to greater temperatures than other processes, and they may recirculate coffee through the beans making coffee with a bitter taste. If the water is not hot enough, the lower water temperature will prevent the acids in the beans from dissolving, leaving a weak and bitter taste.

Other Notable differences 

Ease of Use 

Traditional drip coffee makers are a good choice since they are functional and straightforward.

The whole process is entirely automated.

After correctly adding the coffee grounds and water tank, you’ll be able to make great coffee every time.

Coffee Percolator vs Drip
Coffee Percolator vs Drip

The usage of stovetop percolators, on the other hand, requires some practice. You may leave it unattended and wind up destroying your drink.

Temperature regulation is handled well by electric percolators, and after the process is complete, all of the equipment goes into “keep coffee warm” status.


You lose control over the machine when it’s automated, and this is especially true for modern drip coffee makers.

The convenience is undeniable, but it isn’t always the best choice when it comes to making your coffee as you want it.

Although this is essentially an automated process, high-end drip machines allow for the coffee brew’s strength and temperature.

You can regulate the quality of your coffee using a stovetop percolator.

To initiate the percolation process, you must reach a specific water temperature. It’s up to you how quickly you get to that temperature and how long you keep the boiling water hot.

You can purchase a glass percolator if you want a better look at the process.


Both of these coffee machines can make a large number of coffee cups simultaneously.

Compared to an espresso maker or an Aeropress, coffee percolators and drip coffee machines are more family-friendly.

There are drip coffee makers that can brew as many as 14 cups at a time, which is why they’re so popular in offices.

Many home coffee percolators are comparable in capacity to the standard 12-cup drip coffee machine.


The way coffee and water are blended in these two coffee makers dramatically impacts the flavor.

There is almost no difference between using a drip coffee maker and a pour-over technique.

The coffee is mild and smooth since the hot water only once goes through the ground coffee beans.

Using a percolator, you’ll receive a full-bodied cup of joe.

The coffee grounds are repeatedly drenched in water to produce a rich, full-bodied beverage.

The use of boiling water (or near-boiling water) is required to keep the method going, resulting in the percolated coffee being over-extracted or scorched.

Note: One thing to keep in mind is that the warming plate, which is one of the most prominent benefits of drip coffee machines, may be harmful to the flavor of the coffee.

Percolator vs Drip Machine Conclusion

It boils down to personal preference for percolator vs drip coffee makers.

Both coffee makers have their own set of advantages and disadvantages, as well as their own set of supporters and detractors.

Suppose you want a completely hassle-free morning routine (and, let’s face it, who doesn’t?) you can’t go wrong with automated drip coffee machines, which are available in a variety of sizes.

Using this technique of making consistent drip coffee is simple and takes nothing more than filling the container and turning on the drip machine.

If you intend to have a second cup of drip coffee, it will even keep your drip coffee warm.

Percolator coffee is perfect for people who want their first cup of joe to be hot and powerful to get their day started well.

If you choose the stovetop version, you’ll have the option of adjusting the brewing duration to obtain the desired strength.

Percolated coffee brewed on them grants you greater control and adds a classic vibe to your countertop.

Hoping this guide helped. 

Brooke Davis

Hi everyone, my name is Brooke and I’m a Barista and freelance writer. I love brewing coffee and my favorite coffee drink is without doubt an Americano (espresso with added hot water). When I’m not busy making or writing about coffee you’ll find me hanging out at the beach with friends in California where I am currently residing. Follow me on: Linkedin

Read These Next