View Full Version : Percolator vs. French Press

11-02-2004, 12:53 PM
I broke my french press coffee pot a few weeks back and I'm thinking of replacing it with a percolator. Does anyone have an opinion? Do percolators make as good coffee as a french press? I'm considering a percolator because I like to make a full pot and I have no way of keeping my coffee hot in a french press. I also can't afford an electric french press.


11-02-2004, 01:13 PM
I used to have a percolator but no more. The problem is with an electric one, it keeps perking and the coffee gets pretty strong and also tastes burnt. You could use one on the stove but I don't know how long it would stay hot when you remove the pot.

The best pot that retains heat, without getting a burnt taste, is a thermal pot. Most of those are electric, however.

If you want to stick with a non-electric, you might try the Melita, where you pour boiling water over the grounds in the fileter and it drips into the pot.


11-02-2004, 01:27 PM
I really like my french press but I hate all the grounds that still end up in my coffee no matter how slowly and evenly I press.

Have you found a way to get around all the grounds? Since I didn't intend to hijack your thread I'll add my opinion that I like the french press better for not having the "overcooking" and bitter taste that you can get with the percolator.


Laura B
11-02-2004, 01:40 PM
Emilie, I just bought a great french press by Frieling from Williams-Sonoma that is thermal and stays hot for several hours.

http://ww1.williams-sonoma.com/cat/pip.cfm?pkey=xsrd0m1%7C15%7C0%7C%7C%7C%7C%7C%7Cfre nch&gids=e086&cmsrc=sch

As far as preventing grinds from winding up in the coffee, you just have to make sure that the coffee is very coarsely ground.

11-02-2004, 01:45 PM
Laura I never thought I could fall in love with a coffee pot but I'm coming extremely close after looking at that one... ::drool::

Okay so I think I'm leaning closer to a french press. As for the grounds at the bottom, I grind my coffee medium coarse and I don't wind up with a lot of sludge but what I do wind up with I pretend as if it's Turkish coffee and drink it anyway. :p


Laura B
11-02-2004, 02:07 PM
Originally posted by Kahlico
Laura I never thought I could fall in love with a coffee pot but I'm coming extremely close after looking at that one... ::drool::

:D I got the large one, and it is beautiful!

11-02-2004, 02:20 PM
Tastewise, I definitely prefer the French Press.

11-02-2004, 02:27 PM
Between the 2? French press. But if you are going that route, have you considered a gravity drip thingy? I'll find a picture (really hard when you don't know what it's called!)

11-02-2004, 02:32 PM
Haha! It's a filter cone!


11-02-2004, 02:33 PM
Oh, and to keep it hot? A good thermos will do the trick.

11-02-2004, 02:40 PM
I have a percolater and I love it, but I generally only use it for company, not daily use. Mine switches to just a warm setting after it is done perking, so I have not experienced the burnt thing, but I think if taste were priority french press coffee is generally better.

That thermal french press is the bomb! I totally want one now!

11-02-2004, 03:24 PM
Pardon my ignorance, but is this like a 'Bodum'(or are they one in the same) - appears has the same theory i.e. the plunger.........just curious..............

Little Bit
11-02-2004, 03:31 PM
I have/use one of the drip cone thingys that you put on top of a cup, and really like it, except when I need to make more than one or two cups at a time.

When I lived alone, I made the coffee in my french press, then transferred it into a warmed thermal carafe, straining it along the way to get rid of the extra grounds that always manage to slip through.

This reminds me I need/want to replace my old french press that got broken ages ago. Automatic drip coffee just doesn't do it for me anymore.

Laura B
11-02-2004, 04:11 PM
Originally posted by birdyone
Pardon my ignorance, but is this like a 'Bodum'(or are they one in the same) - appears has the same theory i.e. the plunger.........just curious..............

Yes, Bodum is one brand that makes a french press.

11-02-2004, 04:34 PM
I have a Bodum which is years old and did really like it at the time - it works well with a very coarse grind yes/no?

I currently have a Cuisinart Grind & Brew, which I love and HATE cleaning, but well worth the chore. The only thing that I have noticed is that when I get the beans/water ready and timed (as in the machine) the night before - it doesn't seem to taste as 'fresh' as if I had prepared the morning of...........anyone else have this experience with the Cuisinart?

11-03-2004, 03:32 PM
I considered a "drip cone thingy" but when DBF comes over he likes several cups of coffee. I think I'm going to stick with a tried and true french press.


11-04-2004, 09:10 AM
I'm found some other thermal French Press coffee makers at this site (http://www.aabreecoffee.com/bargain-coffee-makers.html) They also had some non-thermal ones on their clearance page starting at $16.00 with free shipping.

Editing to point out that the clearance presses are listed on the linked page -- the Kenya ones are the $16 and $19 ones. They also carry 4 sizes like the one Laura posted with free shipping -- might save you a few bucks. Look under the coffee makers tab. It was the first one on the page when I looked.

We use a drip filter cone over a thermal pot for coffee for a group when not using the espresso maker. It has generall done well, but once in a while, the coffee grind is too fine and it takes forever (like the one time I took it to a friends house and felt like an idiot -- never fails, does it?). Anyway, I am wondering if any of you have tried both the drip cone and a French press and have opinions on the two. I am wondering about getting a French press to try in lieu of the drip cone. Certainly a more appealing visual if you are entertaining.

11-04-2004, 10:03 AM
I have an opinion, Beth! :p :D

The Melitta drip cone makes completely different tasting coffee than the french press. The french press has a lot more caffeine and a lot more acid and oils (because there's no filter, and the coffee steeps in the water for a long time). Not necessarily a bad thing, but definitely different. I like french press coffee sometimes, but the Melitta brewed coffee is much smoother and is easier on my stomach acid-wise and has lots less caffeine (because it's only in contact with the water for about 3 minutes).

But for french press you should grind your beans coarsely and for Melitta style you should grind your beans medium fine (like on a 1-10 scale, 1 being espresso grind fine and 10 being completely coarse, maybe around a 4).

Bottom line is totally personal preference as far as which to like better.

11-04-2004, 10:39 AM
I'm glad I read this. My husband just said let's try one because someone talked about bringing one camping next time and he thought he'd like it. He doesn't like acidic coffee and has a more sensitive stomach, so I am thinking that maybe packing the thermos and the drip filter may be the way to go. We might still buy an inexpensive one and try it -- I think we paid almosty that much for a pot of coffee served in a french press at a restaurant last spring! :o It was a nice brunch -- I'm not complaining, just rationalizing that it might be worth the price to experiment.

11-05-2004, 01:36 PM

I just read Consumers Report and they rated coffee makers. They said that the pod is expensive because you have to use the coffee makers packets and that the small Melita that makes 1-2 cups is a better way to go. If you want to put it in a thermos, you could brew and then transfer to the thermos.


11-05-2004, 01:50 PM
Originally posted by Grace
The french press has a lot more caffeine and a lot more acid and oils (because there's no filter, and the coffee steeps in the water for a long time). Not necessarily a bad thing, but definitely different.

I love pressed coffee and for a long time it was my sole way of brewing, but a year or two back there were a number of health warnings for the reasons you cite (acid and oils) and it was suggested that pressed coffee be limited to one cup a day. Given my age and other risk factors, I slowly weaned myself off and pretty much limit its use to weekends now. :(


11-05-2004, 08:30 PM
Originally posted by Grace
I have an opinion, Beth! :p :D

:eek: :eek:

11-06-2004, 05:18 AM
am i the only other person here besides birdyone who brews coffee? sheesh. as for the water question, birdy, yeah, i've read that if you put the water in the night before it does alter the taste of the coffee. i do it anyway 'cause at 5 a.m. my tastebuds would never be able to discern the difference. but i know that my freshly-made afternoon coffee has better flavor.

11-06-2004, 06:50 AM
No, I'm sure most folks brew, and I know there are lots of folks here ho have posted about that same coffee maker (Grind & Brew -- I firt typed Brined and Grew -- maybe I need coffee frist :o ). But this is a thread about percolators, which are not so common as they were (I can't think if anyone who uses one other than a stovetop camping version), and French presses -- which more folks are commenting on.

DH saw the one on clearance at the site I linked to -- I think it was the Kenya, and he wants to try it. Since we usually brew espresso, it would be for occassional use in our house. I'm thinking that we have the drip cone and a thermos, and that would work even for camping.

11-06-2004, 07:34 AM
Bob, I found these articles online. There was also one suggesting coffee might offer some protection against skin cancer (didn't read the full text -- not going to count on that one no matter what it says.). Do you remember seeing anything more than this? Have you noticed any difference since drinking less French Press coffee?

As to this thread, I am thinking that both percolated coffee and French press would be considered unfiltered unless you use filters in a percolator (I've seen them, but my parents never did), so between those two methods, this particualr issue would not make a distinction.

Running & FitNews, May, 2000

If you favor your coffee made in those elegant French press coffeepots, it may be time to switch to a filtered method. A randomized, crossover trial comparing unfiltered coffee against other beverages like water, tea, and hot chocolate showed elevated homocysteine levels in the coffee group. Homocysteine has been shown to be a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Unfiltered coffee also contains diterpenes, cholesterol-raising substances, which are removed when coffee is filtered. Your best bet would be to cultivate a taste for tea, especially green tea, which numerous studies have shown to have heart-healthy and cancer-preventing benefits. If you choose to stick with coffee, use a filtered method.

(American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2000)

Coffee Health Myths Explained
by Ryan Jacobs

For a long, long time, researchers have been investigating the impact drinking coffee has on the human body. This article focuses on some of the more common misconceptions related to coffee and health. It is important to realize what the studies are actually saying and not to draw incorrect conclusions based on reading the study.

1. Unfiltered Coffee Increases Health Risks

Two recent studies have been published citing that drinking coffee which is unfiltered as in the French Press method are associated with an increase in LDL (bad) cholesterol and or homocysteine levels.

The first study, by Dr. Marina Grubben et al, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition was conducted in the Netherlands. It involved studying 64 healthy adults drinking six large cups of unfiltered coffee or another beverage during a two week period. The results showed that there was an increase in homocysteine levels of 10% in individuals who consumed the unfiltered coffee. They linked this to an increased risk for heart disease by 10%.

In another study, participants drank unfiltered coffee for two weeks and were compared to those who drank filtered coffee. There was an increase in serum LDL cholesterol of 2mg/dl for those drinking unfiltered coffee. After two weeks, they switched to filtered coffee and the serum cholesterol returned to baseline.

These studies, while interesting, don't tell us anything about long term effects. A two week study does not give us an answer to the long term risk of drinking unfiltered coffee. In the homocysteine related study, the control group didn't even drink coffee. Yet the way this has been reported is that it is healthier to drink filtered coffee. A more recent study has shown that homocysteine levels did not drop when drinking filtered coffee. There has been trouble isolating the cause. Is it the caffeine? Who knows? More research is needed.

Copyright 1999-2003 INeedCoffee is a project of Digital Colony

11-06-2004, 07:43 AM
Originally posted by Aubergine
am i the only other person here besides birdyone who brews coffee? sheesh. as for the water question, birdy, yeah, i've read that if you put the water in the night before it does alter the taste of the coffee. i do it anyway 'cause at 5 a.m. my tastebuds would never be able to discern the difference. but i know that my freshly-made afternoon coffee has better flavor.

No, I brew as well. But when I'm looking for something a bit richer, more flavourful, and I'm making one cup, I use my french press or my drip cone. Thingy.

11-06-2004, 08:12 AM
Beth, thanks for posting the article. Now I won't have to shudder when I drink French Press ;). I suppose drinking it every day could cause problems, but we mainly drink it on special occassions with rich desserts. It's definitely not our morning drink. Also, I when I lived alone and had a kitchen the size of a postage stamp, I used the drip cone and it was fine. It's definitely perfect camping gear!

Aubergine, we brew too. My husband prepares the coffee (water/grounds) the night before and it starts automatically before we wake up. I had no idea adding the water earlier altered the taste, so thanks for the info. I'll have fun comparing and contrasting my morning cup with my afternoon cup.

11-06-2004, 08:41 AM
If the water does not get into the grounds, the only difference should be that chlorine and other gasses could escape from the water. That would probably be a good thing. But if some of the water drips into the grounds, then it would start a cold water pre-brew and release some of the flavor...that could change the way it tastes.

I don't think they are intended to drip water into the grounds before the brew cycle begins, but I guess it would depend on whether there was any kind of valve to prevent the added water from pressuring water the line out on the other end. It the maker isn't intended to be started with a timer, it might not have even been a consideration in design. Not that it would neccesarily be included with a timer start.

11-06-2004, 09:32 AM
Maybe it's because I'm young and wreckless but I'll drink 2 or 3 cups of french press coffee everyday. ;) There is something fun about taking time out in my morning and plunging myself a cup of coffee. That and I don't have room for a coffee maker on my counter. My counter is the size of a cutting board. :p I can just store a french press in my cabinet when it's not in use.

11-06-2004, 02:39 PM
This from Comsumer Reports:

Until recently, the general feeling was that 1-3 cups of coffee a day wouldn't hurt most adults. Now it's starting to look as if coffee might actually be good for something besides keeping adults alert. Epidemiological studies by researches at Harvard and the Mayo Clinic have linked the consumption of caffeine in coffee to lower risk of Parkinson's and gall bladder diseases. People who drank decaffeinated did not get these benefits. But both regular and decaf offer some portection against type 2 diabetes. Scientist speculate that coffee's antioxidants, as well and magnesium and phytoestrogens are resoponsible.

They also say to get a good cup of coffee the coffee is what is important not the machine.


11-06-2004, 09:53 PM
Well, it was a big day for coffee in out house, sort of. We found a French press for $14 at Marshall's while my husband was searching for moreof the jalapeno stuffed olives I had gotten him. There was also a $9 one, but we liked this one better and decided to try it.

Earlier in the day, we also ordered the espresso maker we'd been thinking about for a week or so. The delay was enough for me to find a refurbished one and get a significant savings. We'll compare the French press and our cone drip until it comes.

We loved our old espresso maker, but not the grounds and splatters on the counter, so after 4 years and ready for some service, we used this as an excuse to get the new one ahead of plans -- which was after the new countertops, which are not even picked out yet.

11-10-2004, 11:24 PM
Well, we decided we weren't really too fond of French press coffee, but the espresso maker for some reason came shipped overnight and we got it yesterday instead of Friday. We didn't have time to try it yesterday, but watched the video and set it into place. Made our first cups tonight. I think the coffee is good, but it's noisier than I expected. I'm going to have to call and make sure nothing is wrong with it.

11-11-2004, 08:08 AM

Some coffee makers are very noisy. My expresso pot is not electric, so I can't address that, but I have heard the Cuisinart coffee pot which makes a real racket.

Hope you like the pot otherwise.


11-20-2004, 02:31 PM
Sami, if you see this and have time, do you think you could check what the consumer reports say about the coffee makers with thermal carafes? Are there certain brands or models that are clearly better than the others?

I am trying to decide which one to get for my parents and am feeling quite overwhelmed by reading on-line reviews. Sometimes it seems like half the people love it and the other half hate it.

I would also consider the grind and brew type with the thermal carafe, but I wonder if it is worth the extra money. There is about a $100 difference in the Cuisinart models.

If anyone else has any comments that might help, that would be great. Thanks!

11-20-2004, 05:04 PM
I have the Melitta and I just use any other pods from other companies. I also use just a regular tea bag for tea, just push it into the holder. I love it for a quick cup of coffee or tea. Heats in 1 1/2 minutes.

11-20-2004, 05:05 PM
I also have the Cruisart grind and brew thermal pot for our morning fix. Love fresh ground coffee in the morning.

11-20-2004, 09:05 PM

The coffee pots were reviewed in December 2002 and I need to go to the library to see it. Since I am heading to MA on Tuesday, I am not certain I will have time.

Do your parents live in an apartment or in a house? If the are in a house and not sleeping on the same floor as the kitchen, the Cuisinart Grind and Brew should be good. If they sleep on the first floor with the kitchen, then the noise of the grinding, in the morning, is very loud.

If I don't get to the library beforehand, will there be time enough after I get back next week?


11-21-2004, 05:31 AM
No, the coffee pots and coffee are reviewed in this December's 2004 issue. I just finished reading it. The best coffee pot was a Braun KF400 at $20.

The best coffee was Caribou whole bean or Eight O'Clock coffee 100% Columbian ground.