Always wondered what the difference is between a Moka pot vs percolator?
While they're both a type of coffee maker, they approach coffee-crafting differently.
If you are having trouble choosing between a Moka pot and a percolator, I will break down their differences and features to help you decide.
Moka Pot Vs Coffee Percolators: What’s The Difference?
Is a Moka pot a percolator? Even though Moka pots and coffee percolators may seem quite similar, there are numerous differences between them.
The Brewing Process
One of the main differences between the two is the brewing process.
Before I got started experimenting with them both, I honestly thought that they both worked the same way. I grew up with a Moka and thought I knew what to expect.
But I was wrong!
While they are both coffee makers of sorts, they brew two very different types of coffee.
Both the Moka pot and the coffee percolator pass water through the coffee rather than letting the coffee grounds soak in water like a French Press coffee.
The difference here though, is the pressure. So how does the Moka pot work?
When it comes to the coffee brewing process for the Moka pot, you will add finely ground coffee into the small chamber at the base before filling the bottom with water and placing it over a stove.
As the boiling water rises, it is forced through the coffee up into the main chamber. Once the water has been boiled away, the coffee is ready.
With the coffee brewing process for the coffee percolator, the coffee is held in a basket by the lid (upper chamber) instead of the base.
When the water fills the percolator, it is forced through the pipe-like structure and into the coffee basket, where it slowly drains through the grounds.
As mentioned, the main difference between both brewing methods is the pressure. While Moka pots use high pressure, percolators drain slowly with the help of gravity.
When it comes to convenience, both Moka pots and percolators are easy to use and have relatively simple brewing processes.
When comparing the two, however, percolators are slightly easier as they don't need special fine ground coffee.
Overall, however, both are easy to maintain and don't come with any loose parts you need to remove.
If you're with many coffee drinkers, however, a percolator would probably be the better option as you're able to brew a larger batch of coffee at once.
I personally lean towards the Moka as I grew up with it in a small household. However, going to uni and living with other coffee lovers really showed me the percolator light.
Winner: Percolators as they don't need such finely ground coffee and are better at making large batches.
Flavor & Taste
When it comes to flavor, Moka pots tend to win against coffee percolators. Not only does a Moka pot produce rich coffee that's strong and bold, but it beats the percolator's flavor.
Taste-wise, the Moka pot coffee tastes quite similar to an espresso coffee.
It also isn't bitter and is exceptionally robust - making it a favorite for coffee lovers.
In fact, most coffee lovers will consider the coffee that a Moka pot produces to be delicious coffee. It lacks crema but more than makes up for it with bold multi-layered flavor no matter the beans.
Percolator coffee, on the other hand, can be hit-and-miss.
At times you might get a regular coffee brew, while other times, you could end up making a coffee bitter.
I would sometimes get frustrated with the flaky nature of the percolator but have learned to appreciate its drip coffee-style taste and simplicity.
If you want to make concentrated coffee that's both a strong coffee and an espresso-like coffee, then you definitely want to go for a Moka pot.
In comparison, a percolator pot produces regular strength coffee that tastes like your regular cup of coffee from a drip machine. Just add steamed milk, and you're good to go.
Winner: Moka pots are more consistent in making strong quality cups of coffee.
The Design & Construction
Even though both coffee makers have a very similar design - looking like stylish kettles- they're quite different in design and construction.
What is a Moka pot? Moka pots have three parts - a bottom chamber, a filter basket, and a top chamber.
The bottom chamber is where you place the water, and the filter basket is where you put the fine grind. Moka pots are usually made of either aluminum or stainless steel.
Percolators, on the other hand, are typically made of aluminum, stainless steel, glass, or enamel.
It can look different depending on the manufacturer and comes with a separate coffee basket and tube.
With the percolator, you would place the colder water in the kettle before brewing and the tube goes down into the water while the coffee basket sits on top.
I love window shopping for glass and enamel percolators since they can be so cute (so many pastels!) but have a soft spot for the durable minimalism of the Moka.
Winner: Moka pots are often made of more durable materials.
Coffee Grind Sizes
Even though both the Moka pot and the percolator look like coffee pots, they produce two very different types of coffee - thanks to the pressure and the coffee grind sizes.
While the Moka pot uses finely ground coffee, percolators use medium-coarse to medium-ground coffee.
Moka pots use fine grounds, as they brew coffee similar to an espresso machine. Both a Moka pot and an espresso machine use pressure to brew the coffee.
Percolators use coarse grounds. The reason behind the coarser grind is that the coffee basket doesn't have a filter, so using coarse grounds helps to reduce the risk of over-extraction.
Sometimes it's nice to be a little more rough and ready with bean grinding, but I've been trained to turn to fine - it's a habit that's hard to shake! So Moka pots tend to work better for me and my ingrained barista training.
Winner: Percolators are more forgiving in regards to grind size, focusing on roughly medium-ground coffee.
Both these stovetop espresso makers are exceptionally durable as they're typically crafted with sturdy materials such as aluminum or stainless steel.
Coffee percolators can also be made with enamel or glass, so if you decide to go with one of those designs, you would need to be extra careful as it's more fragile.
I'm a clumsy person - as much as I would love to use my cute percolator more often, the Moka has my back.
Winner: Moka pots are made of more durable materials than percolators.
If you're someone that plans on brewing coffee while you're outdoors or on the go, you would want to consider getting a percolator - especially if you're a coffee lover that enjoys having multiple cups in one sitting.
As a percolator is more efficient, you won't have to worry about constantly making coffee. With a Moka pot, on the other hand, it would only be able to brew a specific amount of coffee at a time.
As someone who only recently got into the great outdoors, my percolator has been very helpful on those weekend getaways with friends. However, my Moka is great for those couple or solo trips into the woods.
Winner: Percolators are better for making multiple batches, which works well on camping trips.
Value For Money
One of the good things about these coffee makers is that they're both relatively affordable and cheaper than coffee machines and espresso machines.
Since Moka pots are essentially a stovetop espresso maker, you're getting espresso-like coffee at home without the added cost.
The only downside to them is that you can only make a few ounces of coffee at a time.
Both the Moka and percolator have been good value to me at different points in my life. The percolator was the best value while I lived with a bunch of coffee enthusiasts while the Moka serves me best now that I just live with my partner.
Winner: Moka pots make espresso-like coffee at a fraction of the cost of espresso machines.
How A Moka Pot Works (Overview & Is It Right For You?)
Using a Moka pot to brew coffee is a straightforward process. You use hot water to produce concentrated brewed coffee that's relatively delicious.
Steps For Moka Pot Brewed Coffee
- 1Fill the lowest chamber with water
- 2Add fine coffee grounds to the filter basket
- 3Place the Moka pot on the stovetop to heat the water
- 4After 5 minutes or so, the steam from the hot water will push the coffee up into the funnel and into the upper chamber
Pros of the Moka Pot
Cons of the Moka Pot
Overall though, when it comes to flavor, the Moka pot wins.
It makes a coffee almost on par in depth and richness to an espresso - though it doesn't have the creamy flavor from the crema.
It's also fun to use, and is a step up from a drip coffee machine.
While it isn't the espresso you would get from an espresso coffee maker, it's similar, and you will also be avoiding uneven extraction.
How Percolators Brew Coffee (Who Is This Machine For?)
For a percolator, you're looking at more of a "set it and forget it" method. It uses a small amount of pressure, and the brewing method is also straightforward.
With regards to the heat source, you're looking at a stovetop as well.
Steps For Brewing Coffee With A Percolator
- 1Add the medium grounds to the filter basket on the top of the percolator
- 2Add water to the lower chamber
- 3Set it over a heat source and the boiling water will rise through the tube and slowly drip over the coffee grounds
Pros of the Percolator
Cons of the Percolator
A percolator is great if you're looking to make coffee over an open fire, but it's not necessarily the best option if you're particular about your coffee.
In terms of construction, however, they are robust, simple to use, and are cheaper than drip coffee makers. There's also a modern percolator - an electric version.
When it comes to how much coffee you'd like to drink, if you need more coffee and are constantly on the move, a percolator is exactly what you need.
Common Moka Pot Vs Percolator Questions
Does a percolator make espresso?
No, percolators aren't made to brew espresso, though they can make a powerful cup of coffee. In fact, percolators typically make a large amount of coffee that's good for filling a coffee pot.
Can you make regular coffee in a Moka Pot?
Yes, you can technically make regular coffee in a Moka pot. Most individuals prefer making Moka pot coffee that's blended and has a perfect extraction yield.
Why does my Moka Pot coffee taste bitter?
If your Moka pot coffee tastes bitter, you're likely using coffee beans that are over-roasted or stale, or you've over-brewed your coffee.
Can I use regular ground coffee in a percolator?
Yes, you can, but it's not recommended. If you don't use medium-coarse grounds, you run the risk of having grounds in your coffee.
How long do you steep coffee in a percolator?
It depends on the strength you'd like your coffee to be, but ideally, you'd want your percolator coffee to have percolated for about seven to 10 minutes in even heat - something you won't need to worry about with electric percolators.
When it comes to a percolator vs Moka pot, it's obvious that they both have different brewing methods and produce two different types of coffee.
Both Moka pots and Percolators are fantastic purchases. If you're someone that enjoys coffee that's similar to espresso, a Moka pot is the way to go.
On the other hand, if you like consuming large amounts of coffee at a time, a percolator would be the better choice.