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The Differences Between Regular Drip and Percolator Coffee

Have you ever wondered how percolator coffee and regular drip coffee are different? Both of these coffee methods are widely used, although drip coffee generally more than percolator coffee. Despite being less widely popular, percolator coffee is generally much stronger than most other methods, so many people use them for this reason.

Percolator coffee is a much older method and has been more or less phased out by drip coffee because how convenient the automation of drip coffee is compared to percolated coffee, as percolator coffee requires temperature management.

Here at Gamble Bay Coffee, we are dedicated to helping you get the most out of your coffee experience. The two brewing methods we are looking at today are quite different from one another, and the coffee they yield, even more so.

Let’s look at how these two methods are different and why the difference is important.

How are Percolator Coffee and Regular Drip Coffee Different?

PercolatorBefore we look at these two methods, we first need to go over how they are different.

  • There are two types of percolators, corded and stovetop. Stovetop percolators require more manual labor, as you have to watch it and manage the stove. Corded ones are easier because they allow for a more sit-and-wait style preparation.
  • Drip coffee runs through once, whereas percolator coffee runs through the coffee grounds multiple times. This makes percolator coffee much more potent than drip coffee.
  • The percolator method was much more common in older days, around the 1800’s up to around¬†1970. Drip coffee is a newer method.
  • Percolators use steam to do the job, while drip coffee just uses boiling water.
  • Percolators keep the beans/grounds in the same chamber as the water, giving it a bit of a rougher taste than that of drip coffee, which has separate chambers for the beans and the finished product.

The differences may seem kind of small and insignificant, but they are very important and, while the choice of which you prefer is ultimately up to you, these methods make a vastly different product.

That said, let’s look at each individually.

Is Percolator Coffee better than Regular Drip Coffee?

As I said, this is more of a preference thing, but largely I would say yes. Percolator coffee uses the same coffee grounds more than drip coffee does. So, overall, you’re getting more out of what you’re paying for than you would be with regular drip coffee.

A percolator uses a series of chambers. One chamber holds a large body of water. This large body of water comes to a boil and the steam from the boiling water comes through a small crevice and passes to the top of the percolator. When the steam starts to cool, the dew that comes down drips through the coffee grounds and back down into the boiling water to be reprocessed.

Now, because of the way this is done you might think the strength of the coffee would be uneven, but actually, the process is aided by a small plate in the pot called a spreading plate. The spreading plate ensures that an equal amount of water goes through coarsely ground coffee beans. That way your coffee always has an even taste.

This process ensures you get the most value out of your coffee, although some people may not enjoy the sheer strength that percolator coffee tends to have. The caffeine content is also roughly equal with that of espresso.

Earlier, I said it requires a bit of management. By this, I was referring to the temperature. It needs to be kept at a consistent temperature that’s just below boiling.

If it is heated too high, the beans/grounds will burn and be wasted, which will ruin the coffee. This is very easy to mess up if you are using a stovetop percolator.  However, electric percolators generally have a maximum temperature they can get to that is just right to avoid burning the beans or ground.

If you are interested in a percolator, even just to try it out, you can find some pretty inexpensive ones that work well. This Farberware Percolator is pretty inexpensive and is well worth the cash if you want a stovetop option. If you’re looking for an electric percolator, the Hamilton Beach Percolator is one worth checking out.

So, if you enjoy really dark roasted coffee with a strong scent and stronger taste, you will likely love percolated coffee.

Is Regular Drip Coffee better than Percolator Coffee?

If you are looking to avoid strong coffee, regular drip coffee is a perfectly fine choice. Drip coffee is the most widely consumed form of coffee, today, and is generally the consumer choice. Drip coffee is strong enough to really taste the coffee, but not too unbearably so.

Most drip coffee machines are around the same range as percolators, so neither will set you back all that much. The nice thing about drip coffee is that the machines range widely, you can find some advanced coffee makers that can be set to start automatically, including shortly before you wake up. There’s a large range of versatility when it comes to drip coffee makers because of how widely popular they are.

The downside to drip coffee is that it wastes a bit of the coffee compared to percolator coffee. Drip coffee only runs through the coffee once, so there is much less value in using one. So the big determining factor between the two is how strong you want the taste of your coffee. Either one will be a great choice, but the strength of percolator coffee may be a bit too strong for some people.

If you are looking into getting a good drip machine, I would recommend a coffee maker like this BESTEK one. It is inexpensive and has the programmable timer option I mentioned earlier.

So overall, I would say that if you can spare the time for it, percolator coffee can be the better choice if you can handle the strong taste.

So Which Brewing Method is Best?

percolator-coffeeFor getting the most value for your money, the percolator would be the best value. It makes the most out of the coffee it uses, but again, choosing drip coffee is better for those who can’t handle the stronger taste. I still recommend at least trying percolated coffee once or twice.

Now, percolated coffee may not be feasible for some people, because it does require a bit of time to prepare, the length depending on how strong you prefer your coffee, but, overall, it still takes a while.

Percolated coffee is also somewhat similar to French press coffee, in that it takes a bit of babysitting to make it properly.