Is Drip Coffee Better Than Percolator Coffee?

What are the most common coffee brewing machines in an average household?

I can think of at least two: drip coffee machine and percolator. And we have both of them. The French press is also a runner up. But in reality, the first two brewing machines are a staple in many homes.

The idea of brewing coffee at home is very convenient. You can enjoy freshly brewed coffee anytime of the day. This also works well if you want coffee first thing in the morning and you don’t like the idea of dressing up and hitting the coffee shop. You can also brew a whole pot of coffee and store it in an insulated mug for later consumption.

But, many are still wondering which one is better. Many say that drip coffee is better than percolator coffee. Still, there are people who will fight for percolator coffee.

Let’s break down the details and see the pros and cons of each brewing machine.

The history of percolator

It is arguably the oldest type of coffee brewing method. According to historical records, the percolator was invented by Count Rumford or also known as Benjamin Thompson, in 1753. He was an American soldier and inventor and he invented the percolator during his stint as the Minister of War for the British elector of Bavaria.

But it was not patented under his name. The first patent was awarded to James Mason for the percolator he made in 1865. The second patent went to Hanson Goodrich, a farmer who invented the stovetop percolator.

Americans fell in love with the concept of stovetop percolator. And it was so popular until the 1970s. Imagine, that’s almost a hundred years of percolator sovereignty.

But the popularity of percolator dwindled when drip coffee machine came in the picture.

The launch of the drip coffee machine

It was in 1954 when the world first saw the electrical drip brewer. The Wigomat was invented by Gottlob Widmann. He got the first patent for the drip coffee maker in Germany.

It was in the 1970s when drip coffee maker took over the coffee brewing world and replaced the percolator, due to the fact that it the boiling water over-extracted coffee making it bitter and burnt-tasting.

Percolator features

Percolator often refers to the type of pot used to brew coffee. The secret to percolator coffee is the boiling water that creates pressure as it passes through the coffee grounds to extract its flavor, taste and aroma.

Here are the main features of a percolator:

  • Brew quality – For percolator fans, you will hear them say that percolator coffee is more flavorful. They allude this to the pressure exerted by boiling water as it passes through the coffee grounds. Especially if you are using coarse ground coffee, the boiling water creates enough pressure to seep in between the particles of the ground coffee and extract all its flavor.
  • Durability – Percolator is made from aluminum/stainless steel. By principle, these materials are built to last for years and years. They don’t have any fancy parts or electronic parts. It is considered as a good initial investment for everyday home brewing.
  • Easy to use and clean – Brewing coffee with a percolator does not require much training. You just need to measure the correct ration of coffee grounds to water, turn on your stove and put the percolator or plug in the electric percolator and you will have freshly brewed coffee within minutes. After use, just rinse the percolator with water. For deep cleaning you can add some mild soap and rinse.

Drip coffee maker features

This is the most common type of coffee makers found in homes today. Most families get the 8 to 12 cups per carafe to maximize the use of the coffee maker.

Here are the main features of drip coffee maker:

  • Multi-function – Some models of drip coffee makers make coffee and dispense hot water for people who loves tea.
  • Carafe size – Drip machines come in 4, 6, 8 to 12-cup sizes. Some can even have two hot plates for two carafes.
  • Programmability – Some models are fully automatic. You can set it the night before and have it brewing your coffee on a specified time in the morning.
  • Flavor and temperature selections – You can also program the desired temperature and steeping time to create a more flavorful cup.
  • Carafe type – Most drip coffee machines have a glass carafe. But some model features insulated mugs for effective heat management.
  • Coffee grinder – Newer models feature a built-in coffee grinder.
  • Filter basket or paper filters – You can choose between getting a filter basket so you don’t have to buy paper filters. But be ready to clean it all the time.

Drip coffee maker or percolator: the verdict?

There will always be pros and cons when it comes to using different brewing methods. However, you can make a good choice if you consider certain factors, such as the following:

As they say, you can only tell one brewing method from the other if you try it and taste the resulting coffee. This is also true when it comes to choosing between drip coffee maker and percolator.

Drip coffee can preserve some of the subtle flavor and taste of coffee. You can still enjoy the fruity, floral or herbal notes of the coffee grounds you are using. Especially if you are using a permanent filter instead of a paper filter. Paper filter tends to absorb the flavor and you end up with a less bodied coffee.

Percolator takes pride in yielding a strong and bold cup of coffee. Thanks to the pressure exerted by the boiling water, water penetrates well on the coffee grounds and yields a nice, strong cup of Joe, perfect for kickstarting your day.

Both are convenient to use; but, a drip coffee is more convenient than stovetop percolator.

A drip coffee can be set to a certain time or a fully automatic drip coffee is as easy as click and brew. It turns off automatically when the brewing process is complete. You can leave it to brew, perform your task or daily morning routine and get back to it to enjoy a nice cup of coffee.

A percolator needs overseeing. Because it relies on boiling water, you need to check it from time to time until the water is boiling and making that “perk” sound. You can now turn it off, and pour the brewed coffee in your cup.

Handling and cleaning
Drip coffee is easy to operate. Likewise, the percolator is also easy to use. No rocket science here.

However, you need to be careful with a percolator, especially the stovetops, because some parts of it can be very hot to handle.

Meanwhile, you also need to be careful with a drip coffee because the carafe can be hot too.

The percolator is super easy to clean. You can run water, a little amount of dishwashing liquid, rinse well and you are done. You know that you can avoid getting stale coffee because all parts of the percolator can be washed with water.

The drip coffee is not that easy to clean. The carafe and the filter basket can be hand-washed. But the main chamber is should not be washed. Over time, minerals from water can build up and affect the taste of your coffee. You need to perform deep cleaning by using water and baking soda solution.

Price and affordability

No doubt both machines are very affordable. Either you buy will give you value for money.

In the end, it all boils down to you preference. If you want convenience, affordability and more flavorful coffee, go for the drip coffee brewer.

If you have more time and loves strong, full bodied coffee, go for a percolator coffee.


Head blogger at "Top Off My Coffee Please" and lover of great coffee.

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