Percolator vs French Press: Which Brews Better?

By Evelina •  Updated: 07/04/21 •  7 min read

The Best Answer:

Both French Press and Percolator coffee makers produce excellent quality cups of coffee. If you are looking for a traditional coffee flavor, then the percolator would be the best choice as it has more surface area of hot water to make contact with the ground beans. French Press, on the other hand, will produce a smoother cup of coffee if brewed correctly.

Brewing coffee with both Percolator and French Press is very straightforward. You will need to heat up some water get your coffee maker and place the ground beans inside the device.

The only difference when brewing coffee is that with the Percolator you add the water at the bottom of the metal carafe and wait for it to boil.

In this article, we will talk about the differences between French Press and Percolator coffee makers. We will explain their brewing methods and what information you should consider before making your final buying decision.

The Percolator

french press vs percolator

The Percolator coffee maker is the old classic machine that was invented in 1819 by Joseph-Henry-Marie Laurens. The percolator is very easy to use, easy to clean, and is wonderfully suitable for camping trips or for making large amounts of coffee. This device can brew up to 12 cups of coffee at a time (depending on the size you buy). Percolators are usually made out of metal and have a plastic or wooden handle.

How The Percolator Works?

The Percolator essentially works by forcing boiling water through coffee grounds and then straining the beverage using a filter basket, usually made of metal mesh. The coffee will then be collected into a metal carafe, which is the one you use when pouring the coffee into your cup.

Percolators have a heating element built in the base, which can be powered via electricity or gas.

Percolator Water Temperature For Brewing

The ideal water temperature for brewing coffee in a Percolator is between 195 to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. In order for the coffee to brew properly and produce the most flavor, you need to use this specific water temperature.

If the water temperature is not maintained at the specified level, it will result in a more bitter taste.

Percolator Grind Size

The best grind size for the Percolator is coarse, as this grind size will allow the full extraction of the coffee (i.e. you get the most flavor out of the coffee). You should, however, avoid using a grind size that is too coarse to avoid over-extraction of the coffee.

Percolator Cost

The Percolator costs around $40-$60 on average, which is more expensive than the average French Press.

The price varies because nowadays we have both stovetop and electric Percolators. The electric one is more expensive than the stovetop for obvious reasons.

Percolator Coffee Flavor

The Percolator produces really strong coffee that often tastes bitter if the water temperature is not maintained at a specific level. This is because when the water is heated to a certain temperature, higher levels of acidity are extracted from coffee grounds.

This type of taste can be easily corrected by adding cream or milk, but you might not like that approach to the whole idea of drinking coffee; it kind of defeats the whole purpose of drinking coffee black.

Why Choose The Percolator?

The Percolator will brew you excellent cups of coffee. In fact, many people consider the percolator to be a great alternative for an espresso machine. Percolators are also easy to use; there is almost no learning curve for this device (it’s more difficult to learn how to make a decent cup of coffee with the French Press in my opinion).

The French Press

french press vs percolator

The French Press is a coffee brewing device, which has a cylindrical-shaped glass container with a plunger on top of it. The main ingredients to make a great cup are coffee grounds and hot water. With the help of the plunger, you can separate the ground coffee and water after brewing, resulting in a tasteful cup of coffee!

Read Also: The History of French Press

How The French Press Works?

The French Press works by using a plunger to push the ground coffee down to the bottom of the cylinder glass. The grounds will be placed on the bottom of the cylinder, while water is poured at the top. Once you press down on the plunger, this will force all grounds down and separate them from the coffee.

Read Also: French Press Brewing Guide

French Press Water Temperature

The water temperature for brewing coffee in a French Press is between 195 to 200 degrees Fahrenheit.

French Press Grind Size

To make a perfect cup of coffee with the French Press a coarse to fine grind size is required. The actual grind size mostly depends on the amount of time you want to let the coffee brew. The more you let the coffee steep, the finer will be your grind size.

French Press Cost

French Press prices start from $10 on average. It depends on whether you choose a glass or a stainless steel French Press and its size. This makes it cheaper than the Percolator, which costs $40-$60 on average.

Coffee Flavor

The French Press produces milder coffee compared to the Percolator. This is because the grind size is fairly fine. The finer grind size results in more surface area of water making contact with the ground coffee, producing a smoother taste.

French Press coffee releases more of the coffee flavors and aromas. The grounds from the brewing process will be released into your cup, giving it a pleasant smell and flavor.

Why Choose The French Press?

The French Press gives you the best extraction of coffee flavor and aroma. It is also great if you’re short on time. All you need to do is to combine your ground coffee beans with hot water and wait for a few minutes before pressing down the plunger.

The only downside is that you might end up with some grounds in your cup.

Read Also: How to clean the French Press

Frequently Asked Questions: FAQ

Do Percolators Make Better Coffee?

A Percolator can make a great coffee in a short amount of time, but the taste and quality are not as good as other methods such as French Press, V60, or even Chemex.

Can I use Regular Ground Coffee in a Percolator?

Yes! You can use regular ground coffee in a percolator. The percolator will brew a very good cup of coffee, but it will taste and seem way different from coffee that is brewed in various other methods.

Why does my Percolated Coffee taste Burnt?

If your coffee tastes burnt, you probably burned the coffee grounds. This sometimes happens when the device is left on for too long or heated to very high temperatures. One of the main reasons for this is that it takes a lot of time for a Percolator to heat up properly.

Last Thoughts

Both the Percolator and the French Press are great choices to make a decent cup of coffee, but I personally prefer the French Press for its flavor and aroma.

If you’re looking for a device that is simple, easy to use, and affordable then you shouldn’t think twice before getting yourself a Percolator.

On the other hand, if you really want to experience the great coffee flavor, I suggest getting yourself a French Press.


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Evelina’s passion for coffee could never been hidden. Having worked as a barista, she learned the true value of the coffee bean and its secrets. As she continued to evolve as a barista, so did her knowledge, techniques on making different coffee blends and most importantly how to operate every kind of gear when it comes to coffee. Having a degree in biomedicine and being a barista, allows her to provide our community with in-depth knowledge surrounding the topics of coffee.