Percolators produce coffee that is stronger and more bitter than the beverages produced by electric drip coffee makers. Since the 1970s, drip coffee makers have proven far more popular. However, percolators are still appreciated by a significant subset of coffee aficionados.
An old-fashioned and traditional coffee maker, the non-electric percolator works by drawing boiling water up a stem and through a basket containing coffee grounds. In non-electric models, this process continues until the percolator is removed from the stovetop or heat source. Care must be taken to stop the brewing process before the coffee becomes overly strong or takes on a burnt flavor. Less common, electric percolators feature automatic brewing cycles, but they have largely been supplanted by electric drip coffee makers.
A drip coffee maker works by gradually spraying heated water through coffee grounds contained in a filter basket. As it is filtered, the resultant coffee is collected in a pot or carafe. The drip coffee maker only passes water through coffee grounds one time, while percolators move water through the grounds multiple times. This creates the distinctive, bitter taste of percolator coffee. Since traditional percolators do not use electricity, they remain extremely popular for camping and other outdoor expeditions.