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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.

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 They’re not outdated though, and many look so sophisticated they would look great in any kitchen setup.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.


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Gamble Bay Coffee

James Lambert

Owner and proprietor of the Gamble Bay Coffee Company. Its my mission to teach you how to make amazing coffee at home... no barista needed other than yourself.