Percolators and moka pots may look very similar, and even operate similarly (on a stovetop) but they actually brew coffee in very different ways.
And the coffee they produce tastes noticeably different, too.
In fact, aside from being strong, the coffee made with either brewer can taste very different. Since they both have a similar, old-fashioned design aesthetic, it's easy to mistake one for the other when you're looking for coffee brewing equipment.
Let's look at the key differences between these two types of coffee makers:
The moka pot is a coffee maker that uses steam pressure to brew coffee. It's a delicious way to make coffee, and it's also pretty easy to do. I highly recommend trying it out if you haven't already.
In a way, a moka pot is essentially a "stovetop espresso maker." It's a good choice for anyone who loves freshly brewed espresso, but doesn't want to go to the hassle and expense of buying an expensive machine. (An AeroPress works well for this, too.)
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The moka pot works by boiling water in the bottom chamber, which then forces steam up through the ground coffee in the middle chamber. This produces a strong, rich coffee that gives true espresso a run for its money, and can be enjoyed without having to leave the house or buy an espresso maker.
That's a lot of information. Let me break it down for you:
A moka pot is a coffee maker that uses steam pressure to brew coffee.
It's pretty easy to use, and makes a delicious cup of coffee.
A moka pot is like a "stovetop espresso maker." It's perfect for anyone who loves espresso but doesn't want to buy an expensive machine.
The moka pot works by boiling water in the bottom chamber, which then forces steam up through the ground coffee in the middle chamber. This produces a strong, rich coffee similar to espresso.
A percolator is a type of coffee maker that brews coffee by passing hot water through ground coffee beans. Here are some more details about percolators:
Percolators come in both stovetop and electric models.
Stovetop percolators typically have a glass knob on top that allows you to see the coffee as it brews.
Electric percolators usually have a heating element that keeps the coffee hot after it's brewed.
Percolators can brew anywhere from 2-10 cups of coffee at a time.
Percolators brew coffee by passing hot water through ground coffee beans. This produces a strong, rich cup of coffee.
Percolators are typically more affordable than other types of coffee makers, making them a great option for budget-minded shoppers.
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Moka Pot vs Percolator
Both moka pots and percolators can produce strong, flavorful coffee. But as I mentioned, there are some key differences between these two brewing methods:
Moka pots typically produce coffee that is richer and fuller-bodied than coffee brewed with a percolator. Percolators can also sometimes make coffee taste bitter due to the way they extract flavors from the beans, and they're associated with a "cooked" or "overcooked" coffee taste.
In general, moka pots are considered to be easier to use than percolators, making them a better choice for novice brewers. (Moka pots are less prone to over-extract coffee grounds, making them a safer bet for brewing great-tasting coffee.)
Moka Pots are usually more convenient and portable to take on the go, though either is a solid option for making coffee while you’re roughing it at a camp site.
So, what's the bottom line? If you're looking for an easy-to-use coffee maker that produces rich, flavorful coffee, go with a moka pot.
If you're okay with a bit more of a learning curve and want to experiment with different brewing methods, go for a percolator.
Keep in mind that moka pot coffee is often described as rich and dark, while percolator coffee can be more bitter without the richness. Other than that—as always—it's really up to your personal preference which brewer is better!