Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Percolator vs Drip Coffee Maker – What’s The Difference?

Rebecca Hanlon
Last Updated: August 18th, 2023

Few things in life are better than a good cup of coffee. For many people, the morning routine begins with plugging in the coffee maker, listening for the sound of water bubbling and gurgling, and waiting for the aroma to fill the air.

Many homes house a classic coffee maker, a Percolator, or Drip coffee. Despite the newer trendier makers on the market, these two powerhouses are staples in the coffee world. So which should you choose?

With both being popular it can be hard to choose, read on to learn the differences between a percolator vs drip coffee maker and which is right for you.

Drip or Percolator?

drip or percolator

Since these two classic coffee makers have been around for centuries, it may be difficult to decide which is better, Drip vs Percolator coffee? The reality is they are both delicious and both have their own distinct qualities.

  • Polished Stainless Steel
  • Permanent Filter Basket
  • Easy Care
  • 5 Cup Brewing Capacity
  • Simple and Easy to Use
  • Easy to Clean

Percolator coffee makers are classic and can be used on stove tops or with electricity. Coffee is a strong brew that can at times be bitter. Using heat and gravity, the water and coffee cycle through the grounds until it reaches the desired strength.

Drip coffee makers have become the traditional coffee maker in most homes. The coffee produced is flavorful, savory, and free of grounds. Drip coffee makers are perfect for producing large quantities of coffee quickly.

How Are They Made?

To make coffee using a percolator, water is placed in a reservoir at the bottom of the kettle. A metal tube runs up the middle of the kettle and coffee grounds are placed in a metal basket that sits atop the tube.

Once the cover is placed on, water heats until it gains enough pressure to push it up through the tube where it pushes through the coffee grounds and back to the reservoir.

This action continues over and over until the percolator is taken off of the heat, or turned off if electric. This is what allows the user to control how strong the coffee gets.

Drip coffee makers use the same principle as pour-over coffee but with automation. Water is placed in a reservoir. A filter is then placed in the basket of the machine and ground coffee is placed within the filter.

Water is pushed up to the basket where it slowly drips over the grounds and through an opening into a carafe below.

What Are They Made of?

what they made of-drip or percolator

Both of these coffee makers use coffee grounds and water to create their unique brews, but the machines themselves have different components.

Percolators have three main parts, a lower chamber that houses water, an upper chamber that holds the coffee grounds, and a metal tube connecting them. They are typically made of metal and can be electric or work over stove tops or open flame.

Drip coffee makers have several components. The major parts are the water reservoir where the water is placed, a heating element to help draw the water up, the showerhead to drip the water over the coffee grounds, a filter compartment that holds the coffee grounds, and a carafe for the coffee to drip into. Since they rely on electricity they also have a power switch and electric heating elements.

How Are They Similar?

Percolators and Drip Coffee makers are both great for brewing large quantities of coffee at once. They each take around 8 to 10 minutes to fully brew, and depending on the Percolator they can both be electric and automated.

Though neither gives the control of a Pour Over or French Press method, they both do allow for some customization depending on the ratio of water to coffee used.

Price, Quantity, Taste, Brew Time, Power Comparison


  • Taste: Strong, robust, bitter
  • Quantity: 4+ cups
  • Cost: $20-$60
  • Brew Time: 8 Minutes
  • Power: Electric or Stovetop

Drip Coffee Maker

  • Taste: Mild, savory
  • Quantity: 4+ cups
  • Cost: $25-$300
  • Brew Time: 10 minutes
  • Power: Electric

While both coffee makers are seen as classic ways to make coffee, they do have their differences.

Percolators use a coarse grind and produce a stronger and more robust coffee, in part because the water continuously cycles through the grounds until removed from heat.

This also can result in a more bitter coffee. The cost is relatively lower, between $20 and $60 and they can produce anywhere from 4 to 20 cups, making it perfect for a large crowd. They can be electric or use a stovetop for power.

Drip coffee makers can vary in cost depending on features, usually anywhere between $25 and $300. The coffee they produce is savory and flavorful, though milder.

They use a finer grind and produce a smaller quantity of coffee, between 4 and 12 cups. They are almost always powered by electricity.

How To Drink Percolator vs Drip Coffee


Percolator coffee can be bitter, therefore people generally enjoy adding a sweetener such as sugar, and some kind of cream or milk.

While you may traditionally enjoy your coffee in the morning you can use Percolator coffee to make a great nightcap. Try the Midnight Coffee Cocktail!

How To Drink Percolator

Midnight Coffee Cocktail:

  • 6 oz Percolator coffee
  • 1.5 oz black rum
  • Irish Cream

In a double-walled glass mug, pour 6 oz of coffee fresh from the Percolator. Add 1.5 oz of your favorite black or dark rum and top with Irish Cream such as Bailey’s.

Drip Coffee

Drip coffee is sometimes enjoyed black (meaning nothing added to it), though many people enjoy adding a sweetener and creamer to it.

Drip coffee really is a great base to add anything that you enjoy in coffee. If you’re looking to have a little fun, use it to make a Coconut Affogato.

How To Drink Drip Coffee

Coconut Affogato

  • 1 scoop coconut gelato
  • 3 oz Drip Coffee

In a mug or dessert glass, place one scoop of cold coconut gelato and pour 3 oz of coffee over the top. Enjoy the hot and cold juxtaposition and the sweet and strong taste!


Percolators create a strong yet bitter coffee. If you enjoy that style you may want to try French Press coffee.

It has the same flavor profile with a slightly more oily mouthfeel. Similarly, the Aeropress will produce a strong coffee but only makes one cup at a time, making it ideal if you don’t need a full pot.

alternatives-percolator vs drip

Drip coffee makers use the same concept as a Pour Over to produce coffee, therefore a Pour Over or Chemex makes a great alternative.

The coffee will be slightly stronger and you won’t be able to produce large quantities, but both are perfect alternatives if you only want one delicious cup!

Percolator Vs Drip – FAQs

Which came first?

The Percolator was developed by Benjamin Thompson in the late 1700s starting as a stovetop device as an alternative to simply simmering grinds in water, before making its way to France in the early 1800s.

Drip coffee makers have been around for a long time as well, but were honed in the early 1900s as a way to produce a cleaner cup of coffee with fewer coffee grinds making their way into the final cup.

Which is stronger?

Percolator coffee tends to be stronger because the coffee continues to recirculate, causing it to get stronger with each cycle. However, Drip coffee’s strength can be adjusted by using a higher coffee-to-water ratio.

Which is the most popular?

Percolators remained a staple of the American home, but more recently Drip coffee makers have become ubiquitous and can be found in many homes and workplaces around the globe.

Percolators still remain popular with campers and those that prefer stovetop cooking, but Drip coffee maker is now standard in many restaurants and hotel rooms.

About The Author

Rebecca Hanlon

Rebecca has been a blogger for over 5 years, before that enjoying a number of jobs to fund her passion for travel. She's taught English as a foreign language, a part-time Barista, a waitress, and a tour guide.

Just so you know, if you click on a product on and decide to buy it, we may earn a small commission.

Leave a Comment