Percolator vs Pour Over Coffee: A Comparison of Two Brewing Methods

There are so many ways to brew a quality cup of coffee, it can be difficult to keep up with all of the different methods. Two brew methods that seem to get forgotten often, despite the delicious results they can produce are the percolator method and the pour over method.

The two have a lot of similarities, but upon further examination, their differences really stand out.

A classic percolator can brew a really good batch of coffee, and stands out for its convenience and nostalgic touch. The taste of a good percolator brew cannot even compare to that of a perfectly crafted batch of pour over coffee, though.

Percolators have slowly lost their popularity over the years, with the rise of drip coffee makers. They have not been forgotten though, with the more modern twist, the electric percolator allowing them to stay relevant in the coffee brewing scene.

Pour overs on the other hand have been rising in popularity. There are many pour over kits on the market which make getting into the pour over method of brewing much easier. Here are the best pour over coffee makers you can buy these days; there’s a bunch of them to choose from.

And I say method because using a pour over is not like using a percolator, where you can add the water and grounds and either heat them on the stove or plug them in. Pour overs always require completing a series of steps before brewing.

I see how the two methods get compared. Pour over and percolators are both capable of making some of the best coffee out there. They both require a bit of attention and skill though, as overheating or over extracting will cause for a bad brew with either method.

The percolator is great for a lot of uses, and they can vary from the same uses a pour over may be best for. Many people who used to use percolators before the rise of drip coffee may enjoy using percolators for the nostalgia. They’re not outdated though, and many look so sophisticated they would look great in any kitchen setup.

The pour over may take more time and precision than the percolator, but the results are worth it. There are so many beautiful designs of pour overs it would be hard to find one that didn’t look great in a contemporary kitchen.

Let’s take a deeper comparison between the percolator and pour over brewing method.

The Difference Between Percolator and Pour Over Coffee

Before we can dive in to which brew method is better, it’s important to fully understand the similarities and differences between the two methods.

A percolator is a coffee pot made for brewing coffee by cycling the boiling water through the grounds until it has reached its desired strength. This was a popular brewing method before drip coffee machines took over, but still remains a frequently-used brew method in many coffee connoisseurs lives.

Unlike the percolator, pour over coffee is increasing in popularity as a brewing method. Pour overs are a lot like French presses, where you have to grind fresh coffee and add hot water. Instead of immersing the beans and water together, hot water is poured over the grounds in a controlled manner, a little bit at a time, to extract the flavor from the beans.

Percolators and pour overs are two brewing methods with many similarities and differences. If you’re looking into your options, or trying to get a better understanding of coffee brewing methods in general, read on for our comparison of pour overs and percolators.

Is Percolator Coffee Better Than Pour Over?

Percolator coffee is not better than pour over. There are some valid reasons why one might choose percolator over pour over, though.

Convenience is a huge factor. Percolators tend to be easier for certain situations, such as travelling or camping. They are available in electric or stovetop versions, making it real simple for someone to heat up in a variety of different situations.

Many prefer percolator over drip coffee, if even just for the nostalgic feel of it. Percolator coffee does tend to be more flavorful, and many percolator enthusiasts will argue that the taste is more bold than that of a pour over.

Percolators are also more durable than pour overs. They work with a collection of chambers, and use the boiling water to drip through the coffee grounds and get an even flow between the hot water and beans.

Stovetop percolators require you keep a close eye on the brew, so you don’t overheat the contents and end up with a burnt cup of coffee. The good news is a lot of electric percolators will stop when they reach a certain temperature, meaning the risk of overheating the contents will disappear.

Percolator brew method can produce a cup of coffee with a higher caffeine content than its pour over counterpart. A strong pour over can have the same caffeine content as espresso. This can be a high selling point for anyone who drinks coffee with caffeine content in the front of their mind.

Is Pour Over Coffee Better Than Percolator?

In my opinion, yes. I prefer the pour over because I enjoy the control I have over my brew. I like to buy higher quality beans, so it feels like I am getting the right use out of my purchase when I take the time to craft a delicious pour over.

While the percolator brew method promises convenience and a quick turnaround, the pour over brew method takes more time and precision to craft a more bold, rich drink.

The most important thing about a pour over is the quality of the ground beans to be used. They must be ground to the right consistency if you want a delicious cup. The good news is there are a lot of high quality grinders out there that will help you achieve the perfect grind. But if you’re not interested in purchasing extra gadgets, you may lean towards the percolator method.

Of course, with a grinder comes the need to understand the consistency you’ll want from your beans. If you grind them too coarse, the coffee will under extract and be weak and acidic. If you grind them too fine, the coffee will over extract and become bitter.

It’s also important to have paper filters, which adds another item to the list of things you’ll need to use a pour over. Still, I think the quality of the coffee is worth the few extra steps. There are also a variety of reusable paper filters that make this part even easier.

My favorite thing about the pour over is the control. You are guiding the way along each step, from the grinding of whatever amount you select to the water poured through, you are the one controlling the brew.

This can be good or bad, depending on what your goals for brewing are. If you are willing to learn a few things about the pour over, with much of it being similar to the French press method, you can easily make a much better cup of joe than a percolator could.

Another aspect of the pour over that makes it stand out over the percolator brew method is the gorgeous design many pour over coffee makers have. If you are someone who wants their coffee bar to look fine and cohesive, a beautiful pour over coffee maker would probably be a much better addition than a percolator.

Percolator or Pour Over?

Both methods of brewing include a bit of a learning curve. It’s small though, and either are do-able. My pick is the pour over, hands down.

That’s not to say the percolator is not a great choice. I like that the caffeine content can be higher with coffee brewed from a percolator, because I like to get the best bang for my buck and caffeine content is certainly a factor.

Comparing the two means really taking into account their similarities and differences. It’s not as simple as comparing drip coffee to percolator coffee, because there is not a clear “standard” like drip coffee. Still, comparing the two really highlights the variety in brewing methods available to us.

While the percolator is usually a simple one-piece machine, pour overs require a few different parts. If you’re trying to make coffee on the go, it may be easier to go with the percolator as you can just throw what you need inside the percolator and begin the brewing process, whereas with the pour over you’d need to store all of your separate pieces.

The difference in quality may be difficult to spot in someone who just drinks whatever coffee is around, but for the seasoned connoisseurs, the pour over tends to come out with higher regard. The control you have over the brew really allows you to craft a strong, bold and soothing cup of coffee.

When it comes down to it, the two methods both produce delicious coffee if done right. Knowing what you’re doing can be vastly more important that what method you are brewing with. Still, the pour over beats the percolator because the quality of a good pour over brew tastes significantly better than that of a percolator, despite the convenience of the latter.

Pour Over Vs Percolator Coffee: Two Great Ways To Perk Up Your Day

Pour Over Vs Percolator

Coffee lovers are often seeking the brewing method that can provide the best results.

Who can blame them? After all, there are so many brewing methods out there to try out!

Two that have been growing in popularity are the percolator and pour over methods.

One provides a stronger, more flavorful brew while the other offers a clean, less bitter cup that is often found to be.

Each one is well worth a try, and you may find that you end up enjoying both!

Read on to discover more about these great coffee-brewing methods!

Pour Over: Slow, Steady, and Smooth

Pour over coffee essentially refers to the process of manually pouring hot water over your grounds.Kalita Wave Dripper

This results in a highly-controlled process that can allow you to adjust the resulting brew to your specific tastes.

While the pour over method doesn’t tend to be an overly complicated process, it isn’t an automatic one.

Because of that, it tends to be preferred by those who have the time to spend on perfecting the brewing method to suit their needs.


  • Allows you to achieve a brew with less bitterness.
  • A great way to get the most out of high-quality coffee beans.
  • Relatively short brewing period.
  • You get the ability to experiment a lot.
  • Much of the equipment needed is aesthetically pleasing.


  • The filters needed for this method can be more expensive than typical paper filters.
  • Tends to require more attention because it’s not an automatic process.
  • Bleached filters tend to be less environmentally friendly.

What You Need

There are a few different kinds of equipment you can use for making pour over coffee, though they often tend to be pretty similar.

Essentially, you’ll need a kettle, a container with a dripper, filters and a mug to pour the coffee in after.

If you prefer to grind your own fresh beans, then you’ll also need a decent grinder and a food scale to help with measuring out the correct amounts.

One of the more common options is a Chemex container, which are commonly made from glass, but there are some other pour over container options out there as well such as the Bee House, Kalita Wave and V60.

The filters used in this method are also typically thicker than the paper filters you might use in a standard drip-style coffee maker.

For those who want to be extremely accurate, a timer can be a great idea as well.

Oftentimes, you can use a watch or a timer on your phone as well.

The Flavor

One of the most common features of pour over coffee is that it tends to be more pure and crisp than some of the other options out there.

This is largely due to the thicker filters, which keep more of the acid in the beans from getting into the final cup.

Depending on the kind of pour over option you choose, this filter might be a thick paper filter, a built-in metal filter or a cloth filter.

It’s going to be important to keep in mind that the different kinds of filters can result in slightly different flavors of coffee, depending on how much of the acid they let through.

You’ll also have full control over every part of the process, from the water temperature to the drip speed.

Because of this, there is a lot of room to experiment and find ways to adjust the process so that it works perfectly for you.

Unlike other options, this is able to ensure you get your coffee exactly the way you want it without having to worry about a machine taking control of the process.

How It Stands Out

Pour over coffee is a coffee style for your inner chemist.

It allows you complete control over every little aspect of the process, which means you can take your time to experiment and enjoy making different concoctions until you find your exact brewing method.

In addition, it’s a very precise method, which results in a clean brew.

Because of that, it’s a great choice for those who want to avoid the bitterness or chance of grounds ending up in your cup.

Many find that the flavor is smoother and more enjoyable than other options out there.

Percolator: Simple Pep

In contrast to the pour over method, using a percolator tends to be much simpler.

All you need to do is add water and grounds into the percolator of your choice, then wait for the water to heat and flow through the grounds.

This is a method that many use while camping, or just for achieving a little simplicity.

There are plenty who also prefer the flavor of percolated coffee to that of other methods, especially drip-style coffee, greatly.

In addition, you can choose between stovetop or electric methods, depending on your personal preferences.


  • Many users find the resulting coffee to be more flavorful and rich.
  • Tends to be stronger with regard to caffeine.
  • Easy to travel with and use outdoors.
  • Those who use this method enjoy the control they get over the brewing process.
  • It offer a unique, nostalgic feel.
  • Most percolators don’t require the use of paper filters.


  • Grounds may sometimes end up in the finished cup.
  • There can be a risk of over-extraction or the resulting brew tasting burnt.
  • Cleaning a percolator can sometimes be more difficult.

What You Need

In most cases, all you need for this method is a percolator and a mug for your coffee.

Most percolators include a built-in filter that keeps the grounds contained while allowing the boiling water to draw out the flavors and benefits.

There are also stovetop percolators, which work on your stove at home, over a campfire or on a camping grill.

These are typically great for those who want something they can easily take on the go, without having to worry about plugging it in.

For those who want the benefits of an electric device, there are also electric percolators.

This option allows you to keep your stove free, just hitting a button to get the coffee brewing.

Depending on what you need, you’ll surely be able to find the ideal option out there.

Percolators are typically very easy to use, and are often also dishwasher safe, making them easy to clean.

Many also find that they make a truly delicious brew!

The Flavor

Coffee made with the use of a percolator is often considered to be richer and more flavorful than other options out there.

When compared to pour over options, it may be stronger but it also can run the risk of allowing some sediment into your cup.

If that is something you’d prefer to avoid, then it’s going to be important to pay close attention to the kind of filter that comes in the percolator you choose.

Another option you have is pouring the finished brew through a paper filter after it has been made, to keep any loose grounds from making it into your cup.

Because of the brewing process in a percolator, it’s a great option for those who want something that will be strong and flavorful, though it may be more bitter as well.

How It Stands Out

Many who want to return to simpler times find a percolator to be the perfect way to do it.

The resulting coffee may be something much more reminiscent of the days before drip-style coffee makers were made.

Percolators are simple, easy devices to use and many people find that they really enjoy the resulting brew.

Similarly to pour over methods, you get a decent amount of control over the process, though it isn’t quite as exact a science as pour over can be.

Generally, it’s considered to be a happy medium between pressing a button for an automated process or having to time and measure each aspect as with Chemex and other pour over methods.

Which Is Better?

Largely, there are a few key factors to keep in mind as you consider whether pour over or percolator coffee is the ideal option for you.

The first is how much time you want to spend on the process.

While neither is as automatic as something like a Keurig, the pour over option can be much more labor intensive than using a percolator.

If you’re someone who wants control over every little part of the process, that might be a great thing for you!

However, if you just want simple, great tasting coffee then a percolator is highly recommended.

If you can, it’s a great idea to find ways you can try out coffee made through both methods to find out which one you prefer before buying your own equipment!

Good luck, and happy shopping!

Brian Mounts

Head blogger, editor, and owner of "Top Off My Coffee", a website that has been educating readers about coffee brewing techniques and equipment since 2012.

Wait, Wait...There's More!