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Drip vs Percolating
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Discussions > Coffee > Machines > Drip vs...  
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spontz
Senior Member


Joined: 3 Sep 2003
Posts: 13
Expertise: Beginner

Posted Fri Sep 5, 2003, 7:57am
Subject: Drip vs Percolating
 

I'm just curious what the pros and cons of each might be, in your collective opinions.  I was recently hollered at by a friend for daring to use an automatic drip coffee maker instead of a French press.  He then said that at the very least, if I had any decency at all, I'd use a percolator.

Well, I know all about the wonders of a French press and how it will change my life and make the heavens rain blessings upon me and cure Aunt Maisie's gout if I use one, but I'd not heard before that a percolator was a better or more civilized choice than a good automatic drip machine.

So what do you folks think?  Am I betraying my coffee by running it through a drip coffee maker?
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phaelon56
Senior Member
phaelon56
Joined: 11 Feb 2002
Posts: 1,144
Location: Syracuse, NY
Expertise: Professional

Espresso: LM 4 group , Isomac Tea,...
Grinder: Major, Super Jolly,...
Vac Pot: Bodum Santos
Drip: Fetco, Melitta
Roaster: Sivetz , Diedrich
Posted Fri Sep 5, 2003, 8:40am
Subject: Re: Drip vs Percolating
 

Press pot (French Press) vs. drip coffee is a matter of taste. More of the essential oils remain in the coffee using the press pot method but some of us find to be a bit too much on the heavy or robust side for that reason.  A metal mesh filter in an auto drip maker is a good compromise between paper filters and press pot. Many will also contend that a Melitta or Chemex style manual cone drip system is better than an auto drip pot but this may be in part simply due to better water temp control and/or the concial shape of the drip system.  

Again....  it's all about what tastes good to you. I have no patience for self professed "coffee snobs" who believe that what they like is the only answer. We have all kinds of knowledgeable, patient and open minded folks in this forum. Many of us, including myself, might be thought of by less coffee savvy friends or family members as "coffee snobs" simply because we know what we like and make great efforts to find and make good coffee (and espresso).  Like many, I'm open to anything that tastes good and always open to trying new prep methods for coffee.  I'm not a big fan of press pot coffee but that doesn't mean it's not good - it's just my taste preference.

That said....  percolators are generally considered to be at the bottom of the quality scale when it comes to producing good coffee. Excessively high or low temperatures are not good - the best coffee is produced in a  certain brewing temp range that is a bit below the boiling point. Percolators, by design, boil the coffee to send it up through the tube and allow it to drip down through the basket. Once again, however, some folks who are accustomed to the taste of percolator coffee may actually prefer it to all others, bu then again, my parents drink month old Folger's decaf from a giant can and just love it.

As for what seems to be widespread consensus among the coffee enthusiast community, here are the methods of choice in order of "quality", starting with what is often perceived as the best method.

1) Vacuum pots

2) Press pots - preferably one that is thermal cased and keeps coffee at the best temp

3) Melitta and Chemex style manual drip systems. Metal (gold mesh) filter considered best, unbleached (tan) paper filter is next and white bleached filter is least preferred.

4) Auto drip maker - best are higher end models that have good high and stable water temps with short enough brewing time and also a thermal carafe.  Filter choices and advantages of each are identical to manual drip system

5) Percolators

Personally, I'd put a different system in fifth place - it's a small windsock-shaped cloth filter attached to a wooden handle and a metal hoop. Popular in many Hispanic cultures for making cafe con leche type drinks - the coffee grounds are allowed to steep in water that has just come off the boil and then poured into the filter.

 
Owen O'Neill
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CremaGuy
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Joined: 22 Jul 2003
Posts: 227
Location: Renton, Wa.
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Anita HX
Grinder: Rancilio Rocky
Drip: Pitcher/Strnr, Presto...
Roaster: P1 Poppery (modified), FR+...
Posted Fri Sep 5, 2003, 8:45am
Subject: Re: Drip vs Percolating
 

spontz Said:

I'm just curious what the pros and cons of each might be, in your collective opinions.  

So what do you folks think?  Am I betraying my coffee by running it through a drip coffee maker?

Posted September 5, 2003 link

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CremaGuy
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Joined: 22 Jul 2003
Posts: 227
Location: Renton, Wa.
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Anita HX
Grinder: Rancilio Rocky
Drip: Pitcher/Strnr, Presto...
Roaster: P1 Poppery (modified), FR+...
Posted Fri Sep 5, 2003, 8:57am
Subject: Re: Drip vs Percolating
 

I agree in general with what Owen said.
Regarding Press Pots I'd add....
Some folks find the amount of sediment in FrenchPress Coffee to be intolerable (I'm one of them) - this seems to be especially a problem when the beans used are over-roasted (like starbucks), as the over-roasted coffee is a stomach irritant for some people. Others don't mind the sediment.  When I can't get/make espresso I use drip.  
It's a well-established fact that the high temperatures and re-boiling that takes place in percolator extraction are detrimental to the taste of the coffee.  But if the coffee is fresh-roasted and ground properly, percolator coffee is undoubtedly better than stale coffee extracted by drip process.  It's amazing how low the quality of coffee has become today - here at my workplace, for example the drip coffee is made from stale grounds and left to "cook" after brewing for hours.  How people can drink it is amazing to me.  So I just make my coffee in a single-cup drip funnel after grinding it with a zassenhaus hand grinder.

Patrick

P.S. Disregard previous post ...I pushed the button too soon.

spontz Said:

I'm just curious what the pros and cons of each might be, in your collective opinions.  I was recently hollered at by a friend for daring to use an automatic drip coffee maker instead of a French press.
So what do you folks think?  Am I betraying my coffee by running it through a drip coffee maker?

Posted September 5, 2003 link

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spontz
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Joined: 3 Sep 2003
Posts: 13
Expertise: Beginner

Posted Fri Sep 5, 2003, 9:05am
Subject: Re: Drip vs Percolating
 

Heh... good, I can tell my friend he's off his rocker. :)

At the moment I'm using a Braun AromaDeluxe drip machine, and it makes the best coffee I've ever made at home, but that's only because it's the first coffee maker I've owned that's better than those Mr. Coffee things you can buy at Wal-Mart.  I just purchased a Zassenhaus wall-mounted hand mill, thanks to the advice of people on this forum, and I can't wait for it to arrive.  It was a tad pricey, though, so my Braun machine will have to last until I can dredge up another hundred bucks or so to spend on coffee hardware.

Thanks for the advice!  Now I can do some good research while I wait for my bank balance to recover enough to buy one of these machines. :)
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spontz
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Joined: 3 Sep 2003
Posts: 13
Expertise: Beginner

Posted Fri Sep 5, 2003, 9:13am
Subject: Re: Drip vs Percolating
 

phaelon56 Said:

3) Melitta and Chemex style manual drip systems. Metal (gold mesh) filter considered best, unbleached (tan) paper filter is next and white bleached filter is least preferred.

Hang on, hang on... these are seriously considered to be better than automatic drip machines, and almost as good as French press?

I expected everything better than automatic drip to cost $100.00, minimum, for a low-end model.  After all, a good drip machine costs around $150.00.  The vacuum coffee makers met those expectations, being about $200.00.  But is this accurate, that a $10.00 coffee pot with a filter on top is *better* than one of those high-tech drip gizmos?

If so, I don't think my bank account needs to recover at all! :)
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CremaGuy
Senior Member


Joined: 22 Jul 2003
Posts: 227
Location: Renton, Wa.
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Anita HX
Grinder: Rancilio Rocky
Drip: Pitcher/Strnr, Presto...
Roaster: P1 Poppery (modified), FR+...
Posted Fri Sep 5, 2003, 10:36am
Subject: Re: Drip vs Percolating
 

Oh yes,  I didn't read/consider Owen's item's 2,3, and 4 carefully.  I think I understand what he was trying to say but the meaning might not be clear...

Item #2. Press Pots: Though I'd agree with Owen's positioning of press pots ( though the setiment issue is subjective) I'd have to agree with those who say that the thermal cased press pots are problematic.  If the coffee is not removed from the press pot after the 3-4minute time, it continues to extract resulting in over-extraction.  If you're going to separate the coffee from the grounds after a few minutes, the thermal casing becomes of questionable value.

Items #3,4.  Manual Drip vs. Auto drip  - I think what Owen is trying to communicate here (and I agree) is that **MANY** of the auto drip machines are known to produce water at the wrong temperature (usually at least about 10degrees too cool) for proper extraction.  Chemex and Melitta Manual systems place the responsibility for temperature on the user who is assumed to be using a thermometer or some other means of ensuring the correct extraction temperature.  But ultimately Drip is Drip if the temperature is correct and the water is evenly distributed over the grounds.  I'd also agree with Owen about the brown vs bleached filters.  But the sediment issue comes up again in connection with the SwissGold filters: they produce coffee with more sediment than the paper filters.   Undoubtedly, the reason Owen is saying they're slightly better than paper is that there's little or no taste associated with the filter itself but for those of us who are sensitive to sediment (as I am), the sediment becomes a bigger issue than the relatively minor taste associated with the paper.  If the sediment isn't an issue, the SwissGold is probably better than the paper.

Patrick


phaelon56 Said:

2) Press pots - preferably one that is thermal cased and keeps coffee at the best temp

3) Melitta and Chemex style manual drip systems. Metal (gold mesh) filter considered best, unbleached (tan) paper filter is next and white bleached filter is least preferred.

4) Auto drip maker - best are higher end models that have good high and stable water temps with short enough brewing time and also a thermal carafe.  Filter choices and advantages of each are identical to manual drip system

Posted September 5, 2003 link

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phaelon56
Senior Member
phaelon56
Joined: 11 Feb 2002
Posts: 1,144
Location: Syracuse, NY
Expertise: Professional

Espresso: LM 4 group , Isomac Tea,...
Grinder: Major, Super Jolly,...
Vac Pot: Bodum Santos
Drip: Fetco, Melitta
Roaster: Sivetz , Diedrich
Posted Fri Sep 5, 2003, 10:36am
Subject: Re: Drip vs Percolating
 

spontz Said:

Hang on, hang on... these are seriously considered to be better than automatic drip machines, and almost as good as French press?

I expected everything better than automatic drip to cost $100.00, minimum....x]

Posted September 5, 2003 link

Yes they are considered to be CAPABLE of delivering better results if properly used. This means keeping them clean (as you should with any coffee equipment), adding a bit of just off the boil water first to infuse the grounds, then pouring the remaining water over. They're cheap because there's not much to them - just the cone and something for it to drip into.  I found a $6 thermal carafe at Wal-Mart and my Melitta cone sits on top of it very nicely.

They're not as popular as drip makers simply because they're messier and require a bit of extra effort.  There's much to be said for throwing some fresh ground coffee into the basket of a drip maker, hitting the brew switch and then making breakfast or reading the paper while the machine does the work.

 
Owen O'Neill
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spontz
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Joined: 3 Sep 2003
Posts: 13
Expertise: Beginner

Posted Fri Sep 5, 2003, 11:42am
Subject: Re: Drip vs Percolating
 

Ah, OK.  I wondered about that, since it's basically the same process.  I don't mind a bit of extra work to get a great cup of coffee, but I think sitting and watching a thermometer, waiting for the water to hit precisely the right temperature, would drive me 'round the bend fairly quickly. :)
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coffiend
Senior Member


Joined: 4 Sep 2003
Posts: 19
Location: Bellingham, WA
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Oscar
Grinder: Rocky
Vac Pot: Bodum ESantos Mini
Drip: Aeropress
Posted Fri Sep 5, 2003, 11:53am
Subject: Re: Drip vs Percolating
 

I would agree with Owen's rankings as well, with some additions and tips. The addition would be cold water proccess coffee ala the Cold Water Toddy  http://www.toddycoffee.com/  . I drank this exclusively for a couple of years in the early 80's and burned out a little on this method, but it does produce one of the smoothest, most convenient ways to get a quality cup of coffee . I'd rank it just under the vac pot. Btw, if your stomach is sensative to the acid in coffee, theres no better way than the Toddy to get a low acid brew since hot water never touches the grounds.(Many people dont realise its the acid in coffee that upsets their stomachs, not caffeine)  
    The tip I'd supply is to pre-wet the paper filter when making drip with hot water, then discarding the pre-wet water. This gets rid of the 'paper' taste in both brown and white filters.
   Percolators are an abomination and should be banished from the face of the earth.

 
Coffee UP!
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