A Comparison of French Press Vs Percolator Coffee maker

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Johny Morrisson

French Press and Percolator both are classical methods for brewing coffee. They make coffee that tastes excellent enough to match any modern approach.

While the Percolator and French Press look much similar there are some obvious differences between these coffee makers.

The main difference is that the French Press is a full immersion brewing method that prepares a full-bodied cup of coffee with a rich mouthfeel, and the Percolator employs a continuous brewing process that cycles boiling water through the coffee grounds repeatedly to deliver a strong and bitter coffee drink.

French Press Vs Percolator

French Press Coffee Maker

The French press is an immersion coffee brewing method that involves soaking coarsely ground beans in hot water and pressing the coffee through a metal filter to make a full-bodied and flavorful drink.

French Press uses a glass, stainless steel, or ceramic jar with a plunger assembly and metal mesh filters to brew a cup of coffee.

French Press makes a rich and rich cup of coffee with a strong flavor and thicker mouthfeel. It is loved by strong coffee lovers who want to enjoy unique and unfiltered coffee flavors.

French press coffee maker

How to use a French Press Coffee Maker

  • Heat the water in the stove or electric kettle. (The best water temperature for brewing French press is 195-205 degrees)
  • Grind the coffee beans to coarse settings (Use only Coarse coffee grounds for French Press otherwise your drink will become bitter and muddy).
  • Add the coffee grounds to French Press and pour half of the hot water over it.
  • Stir the mixture gently for 30 seconds and pour the rest of the water.
  • Let the water steep for 4-6 minutes and after that press the Plunger slowly.
  • Pour the freshly brewed coffee into your favorite mug and enjoy.

Pros of French Press over Percolator

  • French presses produce a rich and full-bodied coffee with a strong flavor – Certainly better than a Percolator.
  • Unlike Percolator, French Press doesn’t over-extract the coffee.
  • You can easily find a good French press for under 30 dollars unless you want something of high quality.
  • French Press can be used to prepare iced coffee, cold brew, and also tea.
  • It’s relatively easier to clean a French Press compared to a percolator.

Cons of French Press

  • You can often end up with sediment in your coffee when brewing the French press (if you don’t know how to use it properly).
  • Compared to Percolators, French Press coffee makers are fragile, making them unsuitable for travel. Metal French Presses are available though and those are quite sturdy!
  • Requires a separate kettle or stovetop for heating purposes.

Percolator Coffee Maker

A coffee percolator is a vintage method of brewing coffee that was mainly used before drip coffee makers were developed. But it still has some devoted followers.

Basically, Percolator is a kettle-like coffee maker that continuously cycles boiling water through coffee grounds and the brewed coffee then drips back down into the pot, and the process is repeated until the desired strength is reached.

Percolator Coffee Maker

The repeated boiling process in percolators can result in over-extraction of the coffee, which eventually leads to a bitter taste.

Time is key here! If you let it percolate for longer you will surely complain about the bitter or burnt taste of your drink.

How to use a Percolator

  1. Fill the bottom part of the percolator with water.
  2. Measure and Grind the coffee beans to coarse or medium coarse settings.
  3. Pour the coffee grounds into the upper basket. Put the percolator together, guaranteeing the lid is on and everything is secured.
  4. Place the Percolator on the stovetop and turn the burner On to low or medium heat.
  5. Depending on the preferred strength, brew the coffee for 7 to 10 mins.
  6. Turn off the heat source in the percolator. Take the basket of coffee and remove the used coffee grounds.
  7. Serve and Enjoy!

Pros of Percolator over French Press

  • You can easily make large quantities of coffee in a Percolator. So, it’s a perfect coffee maker for gatherings.
  • Percolator is more suited for traveling or camping purposes. Battery-powered models are also available that make things easier.
  • Percolators are made of sturdy stainless steel material – Hence, you can’t break them easily!
  • Percolator is a classical coffee brewing method that will give you a vintage feel.

Drawbacks of coffee Percolator

  • The coffee brewed with Percolator doesn’t have a consistent taste as it isn’t a controlled brewing process.
  • It requires proper monitoring otherwise the coffee can easily get burnt or turn bitter because of the over-extraction.
  • It’s a little trickier to clean a Percolator afterward.
  • The brewing process is time-consuming compared to French Press.

Percolator vs French Press | (Head to Head)

1) Which makes better tasting coffee?

French Press makes better coffee than Percolator. Hands down!

The French press method involves steeping, which enables the coffee grounds to release their complete flavor and aroma, yielding a coffee that is bold and rich in taste. The presence of coffee oils and a somewhat gritty texture is a trademark characteristic of French press coffee, one that is highly appreciated by coffee lovers.

A percolator usually produces strong and bitter coffee (sometimes burnt as well) because of its cyclic brewing process and high water temperature.

As we discussed earlier, the percolator is one of the earliest methods of brewing coffee, and it is not designed primarily for taste but for brewing large quantities of coffee.

In terms of taste, French Press can’t be compared with a Percolator (It’s way better!)

2) The Ease Of Use

Brewing coffee in both French Press and Percolator is not as easy as making a pot of coffee in an automatic drip coffee machine. It does require some manual effort.

With French Press, you have to take care of the proper grind size (to avoid the sediments), the right steeping time, and then pressing of the plunger properly. All these processes require precision and accuracy!

With Percolator, you have to pay attention to brewing time and water temperature very critically otherwise, you will get a bitter and over-extracted cup of coffee.

Overall, using a percolator coffee maker is relatively easier than using a French Press. However, cleaning the percolators afterward does require more effort than cleaning a French Press.

3) Brewing time and Capacity

On average French Press takes around 5 minutes of steeping to prepare coffee. Adding the time for heating water and measuring and grinding the coffee beans, it would take around 10 minutes from bean to brew.

Percolators, on the other hand, is a one-pot device add the coffee grounds and the water and you will get the final brew in 5 to 15 minutes depending on the strength you want.

Different sizes of French Press coffee makers are available with a capacity of brewing 3 to 8 cups at a time.

The same is true for percolators, available in many sizes, but much larger models are also available for brewing 14 cups at once.

4) french press vs percolator for camping

The percolator coffee maker is an all-in-one system that can be used with any heat source and is made of quite sturdy stainless steel material, so we can say it is more portable than the French press. Also, you can use virtually any grind size with the Percolator.

With a French press, however, you will need to use a separate heating utensil and coarse coffee grounds (Separate grinder, ideally). Additionally, French presses (especially glass ones) are more fragile than percolators.

Overall, The Percolator coffee maker wins in terms of Portability and is certainly a better choice for camping trips.

5) Which one is the more Versatile coffee maker

French Press is more versatile than a Percolator coffee maker. The grind size, the water temperature, and the steeping time can all easily be adjusted to alter the taste of coffee according to your preference.

Percolators, on the other hand, are designed specifically for producing a strong, bold coffee flavor. You have only a little control over brewing parameters to adjust them according to your preference.

In addition to hot coffee, a French Press can also be used for iced coffee, cold brew, the milk-based coffee drink Cafe Au Lait, frothing milk, and making tea.

In terms of Versatility, Percolator can’t beat French Press!

French Press vs Percolator | What’s better for you?

Hopefully, this detailed comparison has given you insightful information about two classical manual coffee brewing methods: the French Press and the Percolator.

So, is Percolaotor of French Press Better?

I will summarize that in two sentences to make things easier

Percolator can’t beat French Press in terms of Taste and Versatility.

French Press can’t beat Percolator in terms of Brewing in large volume and portability

So Choose wisely!

My recommendation is to go with French Press as it is one of my favorite coffee brewing devices.

Also Read Other French Press Comparisons


What Kind of coffee is Perfect For French Press and the Percolator coffee

Medium or Medium Dark roasted Arabica coffee beans are perfect for brewing coffee with Percolator and the French Press.
The Percolator grind is the same as the French press, both brewing devices use coarse or medium coarse coffee grounds.

Which one is easier to clean French Press or the Percolator

French Press is relatively easier to clean than Percolator.
You just have to rinse the metal filters and the coffee jar with water and you are good to go.
With Percolator, you have to clean the perk tube and filter basket properly as they get clogged easily with the coffee grounds.

Johny Morrison is a founder and content creator at Coffee About. He knows everything there is to know about coffee and loves sharing his passion with others.

You can often find him sipping a single-origin pour-over, rich French press, or pulling espresso shots at home. Johny loves full-bodied dark roasts – the bolder, the better!

As a former barista, he takes coffee equipment seriously and enjoys experimenting with the latest gear. When he’s not brewing or blogging, Johny is scouting local cafes for his next coffee fix.

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