AeroPress vs Percolator: Which One Makes Better Coffee?

By Evelina •  Updated: 04/29/22 •  10 min read

We always think that if something is complicated, it must be better. This couldn’t be further from the truth when it comes to coffee brewing methods. AeroPress and Percolator are two of the simplest ways to make coffee, yet they have different outcomes.

Today, we will explore the key differences between AeroPress and Percolator so that you can decide which one is the best for your coffee needs!

A Few Things About The AeroPress

AeroPress coffee maker

The AeroPress is a manual coffee maker that was created in 2005 by Alan Adler. It is a simple device that brews coffee using a plunger to press hot water through coffee grounds.

The cool thing about AeroPress is that it’s the most versatile coffee maker on the market. You can use it to brew coffee in various ways, from light and flavorful espresso-style coffees to cold brews and even teas!

It’s the ultimate coffee maker for beginners, and even coffee enthusiasts like myself love using it to create the perfect cup of joe.

You can also use different types of coffee beans with the AeroPress, from light to dark roast. This means that you can tailor your coffee to your specific taste preferences.

Overall the simple yet effective design of the AeroPress is what makes people fall in love with it (myself included).

Quick Overview Of The AeroPress:

AeroPress Pros

AeroPress Cons

What Exactly is A Percolator?

percolated coffee

A Percolator is a pot designed to brew coffee by constantly circulating hot water through coffee grounds. Think of it as a coffee pool where hot water constantly flows through the ground coffee.

It was one of the most popular brewing methods in the early 19th century before drip coffee makers and the first espresso machines came around.

Don’t confuse it with a Moka Pot, though. A Moka Pot uses pressure to brew coffee, while a Percolator doesn’t.

Nowadays, there are two types of percolators: electric and stovetop. The stovetop percolator is the more traditional type, while the electric Percolator is a more modern take on the brewing method.

These two types have the same advantages and disadvantages, with the only difference being that the electric one uses electricity to heat water (which is cooler, right?).

Quick Overview Of The Percolator:

Percolator Pros

Percolator Cons

Differences Between AeroPress And Percolator

DifferencesAeroPressPercolator
Grind SizeMedium-FineCoarse
Water Temperature175 degrees Fahrenheit200-205 degrees Fahrenheit
Brewing Time1-2 minutes7-10 minutes
CleaningSuper EasyIt can get messy sometimes
Cost$30$20-$200
Quantity1 Cup 3-12 cups
TasteMellow with strong notesRich, Full bodied flavor
Ease of UseBest for beginnersBest for advanced

Let’s face it. Even though these two coffee makers are completely different, they both have their own unique benefits. So, let’s put them to the test and see which one comes out on top!

1. Grind Size

The Percolator is a better option if you don’t have a grinder or don’t want to waste money on pre-ground coffee. This is because the Percolator needs a coarse grind size which is easier to achieve even without a grinder.

Yes, you heard me right! You can even use a blender to get the perfect grind size for your Percolator.

On the other hand, the AeroPress requires a much finer grind size. To be more specific, a medium-fine grind. So unless you have a top-notch burr grinder, the chances are that you will struggle with getting the desired consistency.

You can use pre-ground coffee, but the issue with that is one word: freshness! 

Admit it! When you want to invest in a manual coffee brewer, chances are you are doing it to control the flavor and quality of your coffee. So the freshness of your coffee beans is an important factor to consider.

Pre-ground coffee could be a few days or even weeks old by the time you use it. And this can affect the flavor of your coffee.

Key Takeaways: If you don’t have a grinder and still want to grind your coffee beans at home, the Percolator is a better option. It needs a coarse grind size, and even without a grinder, you can achieve that. On the other hand, the AeroPress requires a medium-fine grind size which you can achieve with a good burr grinder.

2. Water Temperature

aeropress vs percolator water temperature

Has anyone ever read the AeroPress manual? If not, may I recommend that you do? Because it is the only thing, you need to get started with this coffee maker.

And if you actually know a thing or two about AeroPress, you know that the ideal water temperature is 175 degrees Fahrenheit. This may sound too low, but the reason behind it is that this temperature will extract the coffee perfectly.

Since AeroPress is an immersion brewer, the water temperature is extremely important because it will directly impact the flavor. The time you let the grounds steep also determines the strength of your coffee.

So, always follow the instructions in the manual until you have a firm understanding of what you are doing. After that, you can play around with the recipe to change it according to your taste.

That being said, the water temperature for the Percolator is higher.

The best water temperature is between 200 and 205 degrees Fahrenheit. This is because the water needs to be hot enough to create the necessary circulation for the brewing process.

3. Brewing Time

Brewing coffee with the AeroPress is super fast. If you are in a hurry, this is the coffee maker for you. The whole brewing process takes about 1-2 minutes.

And that includes the coffee blooming you may want to do to let your coffee beans release their flavor.

However, the brewing time with the Percolator is longer. It takes between 7-10 minutes, and that’s because the whole process starts right after the water has reached its boiling point.

TIP: If you want your coffee fast, go for the AeroPress. If you don’t mind waiting a few minutes longer, the Percolator is the one for you. And yes, if you are a camping person, the answer is AeroPress!

4. Cleaning And Maintenance

While both coffee makers are easy to clean, the AeroPress takes the win for one reason: A mess won’t happen! 

Yes, with AeroPress, you will have fewer spills and less mess. That’s because it was designed for that! Since you only have to add the coffee grounds and water, you won’t have to worry about overfilling it or making a mess.

The Percolator is known to be the messier of the two coffee makers. That’s because you have to be careful not to overfill it and keep a close eye on the timing.

Timing can be your enemy with a percolator. If you don’t time it just right, your coffee maker may explode. Exploding coffee makers are not only dangerous, but they make a huge mess. So, if you don’t feel like dealing with the mess, AeroPress is your friend.

Important: When we say explode, I don’t mean that the coffee maker will literally explode. What can happen is that the water will boil over and make a huge mess. So, it’s important to be careful when using a percolator.

5. Cost

The cost can vary from coffee maker to coffee maker. However, in general, AeroPress is going to be less expensive.

Since the only company that makes AeroPress is the original company, you’re always going to find it for around the same price.

On the flip side, Percolators can be found at a variety of different prices. Factors like size, material, and quality can impact the cost. So, if you’re looking for a high-quality percolator, you will have to spend a little more money.

An AeroPress costs around $30, while a percolator can cost anywhere from $20 to $200. The only negative with the AeroPress is that parts like the rubber seal can wear out over time and will need to be replaced.

Also, the paper filters need to be replaced, so there is a bit of maintenance involved. But overall, the AeroPress is going to be less expensive in the long run.

6. Quantity

In terms of quantity, if you live in a big family and want to make coffee for everyone, the Percolator is going to be your best choice! This is because it was designed for larger quantities.

Again, the size of the Percolator will determine how much coffee it can make. But in general, percolators can make anywhere from 3 to 12 cups of coffee.

The AeroPress can only produce one cup at a time, but there is a secret way to make two cups. You have to brew a cup with less water and more coffee grounds.

The coffee ratio should be 1:4, so for every 1 gram of coffee, use 4 grams of water. So if you regularly use around 25g of ground coffee, this time, use 40g of coffee and 160 grams of water.

Once you pressed all the coffee out, split it into two cups and add hot water to it. It’s very simple but will do the job if you need two cups of coffee!

7. Taste

This is the most important factor when it comes to any type of coffee maker. And in terms of taste, both AeroPress and Percolators are excellent but in different ways.

The AeroPress will give you a coffee that has a mellow taste but with strong flavor notes. This is because the AeroPress uses a shorter brewing time and doesn’t allow the coffee to over-extract.

A Percolator is going to give you a rich, full-bodied flavor. This is because the coffee stays in contact with hot water for a longer time. So if you are looking for that classic coffee taste, go with a Percolator!

TIP: The coffee beans you use will also play a big role in the taste of your coffee. For AeroPress, go with a darker roast and for the Percolator, use a medium roast.

8. Ease of Use

Last but not least, let’s talk about the ease of use. This is where AeroPress shines! As I already said, this is the best coffee maker for beginners who want to make really good coffee without the hassle. It’s easy to use, clean, and store, which makes it a perfect choice for people living alone.

The Percolator is going to be something that would need some time and patience to master, especially if you want to learn how to brew a perfect pot every single time. But if you don’t mind the extra effort, then it will be a great coffee maker nevertheless.

Last Thoughts

As you can see these two brewing techniques are miles apart in terms of convenience and coffee results. So deciding which one is better really depends on your personal preferences.

However, if I had to choose, I would go with AeroPress. And that’s because it’s just so much easier to use and it makes quality coffee every time!

Also, it was my first coffee maker and it’s the one I love the most! So if you’re just starting your coffee journey, then I would highly recommend you go with AeroPress as well.

I hope this article helped you understand the difference between AeroPress and Percolator better. And if you want to learn about the different grind sizes for every brewing method don’t forget to get our free grind size cheat sheet below!

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Evelina

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.