Glass french press filled with coffee

French Press vs Percolator: Know 11 Major Differences To Know

Audrey Harrison
Home brewer

Coffee is not just a beverage, it's a ritual, a way of life for many. And every coffee lover has their preferred method of brewing.

Some swear by the French press, while others swear by the percolator. But what if you're torn between French press vs percolator and can't seem to decide which one to choose?

The French press and percolator are both classic options that have been around for decades, but their differences may not be clear to the average coffee drinker.

From the bold and rich flavor of French press coffee to the nostalgia-inducing aroma of percolated coffee, let’s explore the exact differences between French press and percolator coffee makers.

What is the French press?

The French press is a classic coffee brewing method that has been around since the late 19th century. It consists of a cylindrical glass or stainless-steel container with a plunger and a metal or nylon mesh filter.

To brew coffee, you put ground coffee and hot water into the container, stir, and then press down the plunger to separate the coffee grounds from the liquid.

What is a French press coffee maker good for?

One of the biggest advantages of the French press is that it produces a rich, full-bodied cup of coffee with a smooth and velvety texture.

This is because the coffee is steeped for several minutes, allowing the natural oils and flavors to fully infuse into the water. It’s also an excellent choice for those who want to be more involved in the brewing process and appreciate a more hands-on approach.

Limitations of French press coffee maker

However, French press coffee is not suitable for people who are looking for a quick and convenient brewing method. The brewing process takes several minutes, and the cleanup can be messy and time-consuming.

Additionally, the French press is not the best option for people who want a clear and sediment-free cup of coffee, as some fine coffee particles can pass through the mesh filter.

Pros and cons of the French press


  • Full-bodied, rich, and flavorful coffee
  • No paper filters required
  • Affordable
  • Easy to use


  • Gritty coffee with sediment
  • Longer brewing time
  • A coarser grind size required
  • Fragile and prone to breaking

What is a coffee percolator?

The percolator is an old-school coffee brewing method that consists of a pot, a metal basket with a tube running through the center, and a lid. The basket is filled with ground coffee, and the water is heated in the pot until it boils.

The boiling water is then forced through the coffee and up to a tube and then back down into the pot. This process is repeated until the desired strength is achieved.

What is a coffee percolator good for?

Percolator coffee is known for its rich, robust flavor and is perfect for those who prefer a bold cup of coffee.

The percolator is also ideal for brewing large quantities of coffee. This makes it a great option for people who need to brew coffee for a large group of people, such as in an office or during a party. 

Limitations of a coffee percolator 

Percolator coffee may not be suitable for those who prefer a clean, sediment-free cup of coffee. The repeated cycling of water through the grounds can result in a higher concentration of sediment in the final brew.

Additionally, percolator coffee can be prone to over-extraction, resulting in a bitter taste if not monitored carefully.

Pros and cons of the percolator


  • Strong flavor profile 
  • Easy to use
  • Brews large quantities
  • Easy to use and clean
  • Durable and long-lasting


  • Over-extraction leads to bitter coffee
  • May damage specialty coffee flavors
  • Not suitable for mild coffee preferences
  • Prone to accidents or burns‍

French press vs percolator: Quick comparison

The French press offers convenience, affordability, and a rich, aromatic flavor in just 4-5 minutes, whereas percolators brew strong coffee in 10-15 minutes. The French press is highly portable and easy to clean, making it an excellent choice for those on the go. On the other hand, they are less portable and require more thorough cleaning.

Let's explore more differences in detail.

1) Convenience

The French press is renowned for its user-friendliness. It's a simple and straightforward device that doesn't require much effort or attention. After steeping the coffee, you just need to press down the plunger to separate the grounds from the liquid. Cleaning is relatively easy as well, involving rinsing the container and filter. On the other hand, percolators can be trickier to use, demanding a watchful eye to avoid over-extraction, and they typically require more time and effort to clean.

2) Cost

If you're on a budget, the French press is a cost-effective choice. French press coffee makers come in a range of price points, making them accessible to a wide audience. Percolators, especially high-quality ones, tend to be pricier. This makes the French press a more economical option for those looking to enjoy quality coffee without breaking the bank.

3) Coffee Quality

The French press is often celebrated for the depth of flavor it produces. Because it allows the coffee's natural oils and fine sediment to remain in the brew, it imparts a rich, full-bodied flavor with a pleasant aroma. In contrast, percolators have a reputation for producing a very strong brew with a sometimes overpowering flavor profile. The choice between the two depends on your taste preferences.

4) Brewing Time

If you're in a hurry in the morning, the French press is the faster option. It typically takes around 4-5 minutes to brew a pot of coffee. Percolators, on the other hand, require more time, with brewing times ranging from 10-15 minutes. The longer brewing time can be a drawback if you're looking for a quick caffeine fix.

5) Portability

French presses are highly portable and ideal for on-the-go coffee lovers. They are compact, lightweight, and do not require electricity, making them a popular choice for camping and travel. Percolators, with their bulkier design, are more suitable for home use and may not be the best option for those who want to brew coffee while on the move.

6) Flavor

The French press is known for producing coffee with a more pronounced flavor and sediment. This can be both a pro and a con, depending on your preferences. Percolators, on the other hand, are often associated with a bold and strong coffee that may appeal to those who enjoy a robust brew but might be less desirable for those seeking a milder cup.

7) Ease of Cleaning

Cleaning the French press is relatively hassle-free. After use, you can simply rinse the container and filter. In contrast, percolators require more meticulous cleaning, involving disassembling the basket and tube, which can be time-consuming and less convenient.

8) Brewing Method Precision

The French press allows for precise control over variables like water temperature, grind size, and steeping time. This precision makes it easier to fine-tune the brewing process to achieve your desired flavor. In contrast, percolators, due to their recirculation process, may offer less control, making it challenging to achieve consistency in taste from batch to batch.

9) Coffee Sediment

French press coffee is known for its sediment, which can be a turn-off for some coffee drinkers. While this sediment adds to the flavor and richness, it may not be to everyone's liking. Percolators can also produce sediment, but the design typically minimizes the amount, resulting in a smoother cup for those who prefer less residue.

10) Capacity

French presses come in various sizes, making them suitable for single cups or larger gatherings. They can be found in sizes ranging from single-cup (12 oz) to 12-cup or more. Percolators also come in various sizes, but they are generally designed for larger batches. This can be a deciding factor for those who need to brew coffee for a specific number of people.

11) Durability

French presses are often made of glass, stainless steel, or plastic. The durability of your French press depends on the material used. Stainless steel models tend to be the most robust. Percolators are typically made of metal (stainless steel or aluminum), making them more durable in the long run. However, the downside is that they can be heavier.

What should you choose between the French press and the percolator?

Ultimately, the choice between French press vs percolator depends on your personal preference and lifestyle. If you prefer a full-bodied, rich, and flavorful coffee, the French press might be the right choice for you.

However, if you love strong, bold coffee and don't mind spending more time and effort on brewing, a percolator might be a better option. Consider your needs and tastes before making a decision, and enjoy your delicious cup of coffee!

Wrapping up

Both brewing methods have their pros and cons, and experimenting with different methods can be a fun and delicious journey.

And now that you know the difference between a French press and a percolator, it’s time to grab a cup of coffee and enjoy the rich and complex flavors that these brewing methods have to offer!‍


Audrey Harrison

Team TAB
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I am a coffee aficionado based in Seattle. I have devoted my passion and expertise to perfecting the art of home coffee brewing. I became known for my exquisite pour-over and espresso creations. I source coffee beans from local roasters and explores ...