The answer to, ‘Which type of coffee filter should I use?’ depends on a various
priorities you have. If protection of the environment is a priority you may want to
avoid throw away filters and opt for a largely permanent filter like a metal filter.
Perhaps you’re on a limited budget so you’ll opt for a drip coffee machine that does use paper filters though some are more environmentally friendly than others. A Vietnam style drip coffee pot will allow you to use a metal filter and won’t break the bank, though you won’t get an espresso.
A good-quality filter can add a lot to your brew and take away almost nothing.
Whether you’re an occasional or a dedicated coffee drinker, who like a specialty coffee, the type of filter you use makes a difference in the final taste and aroma of your cuppa.
In this article, we’ll discuss different types of filters and what they have to offer
as well as their pros and cons. Read until the end to to find out which filters could suit your needs and which are the dregs – if any.
Table of Contents
What is a Coffee Filter?
A coffee filter is a barrier that is used to separate (sieve) ground coffee from water when brewing, allowing coffee flavors and often oils to pass through. Using a filter when brewing coffee is a pretty common practice, though some people drink their coffee unfiltered. This is a personal preference and depends on the type of coffee being brewed, the taste of the coffee, and the tastes of the people consuming it.
Coffee filters can be made from a variety of materials, including paper, metal, traditional cloth and plastic.
The quality of the filter that you use to brew your coffee can have a big impact on the
taste and aroma of the coffee. Different types of coffee filters are better at filtering out different substances.
Paper filters are the most common type of coffee filter and can be made from unbleached or recycled paper. Paper filters are usually round and have perforated sides to allow for a cleaner, lighter and quicker extraction of coffee grounds. The biggest advantages of using paper filters is that they’re cheap and save on cleaning time. This makes them a great option for people who are brewing multiple cups of coffee or people who don’t want to clean out their coffee pot or coffee machine often.
However, please note bleached paper filters produce toxic chlorinated organic compounds, including chloroform, a known carcinogen which unfortunately find their way into our water ways so if you are environmentally aware opt for unbleached paper filters (they often have a more yellow hue).
Paper filters are able to remove most of the oils from coffee, meaning that you end up with a lighter and smoother tasting brew which may or may not be your preference. It should also be said Paper filters are good at removing chlorine from drinking water.
- Save on cleaning
- Popular bleached paper filters are not environmentally sound.
A good example of a paper filter machine in use today … affordable Mr Coffee on Amazon is a typical drip coffee machine with a filter basket and a handy dual water windows so you know when to fill up (We may get a small commission for purchases).
While plastic filters remove some of the oils from coffee, meaning a lighter cuppa they too remove chlorine from water. This means that your coffee will have a much cleaner taste. Plastic filters are reusable, which is a huge plus for the environment. You won’t have to keep buying paper filters and they’re usually easy to clean.
Cloth Coffee Filters: History and Pros and Cons
The history of using cloth as a coffee filter is almost as old as the history of coffee itself,
when it was still a privilege of aristocrats and not yet an affordable drink for the
general population. Coffee was available only in exclusive cafes and subscription clubs at that time. The very first documented evidence of using a cloth to brew coffee dates back to the end of the 17th century.
French coffee brewers placed ground coffee in a linen bag and infused it in the water,
thus getting rid of the final gritty sip that was prevalent in Turkish coffee which was the early standard. In Thailand cloth filters are still hugely popular today and organic cloth filters can still be used.
Pros of a Cloth Filter
- Environmentally Friendly
- It can be a messy job whereby the filter needs regular cleaning.
Check out these eco friendly hemp cloth filters available on Amazon (we may get a small commission for purchases).
Metal filters simply are not good at filtering all the Micro-fines which are tiny granules of coffee that are small enough to slip through the holes of the filter. This, however, is a benefit for coffee drinkers whom like a darker coffee. The lesser filtering process gives the cup a darker, more cloudy appearance which is ideal for specialty coffees such
as Mandheling from Sumatra.
Metal Disc Filters
Metal disc filters are made of stainless steel and are placed inside a filter basket in your espresso machine. The filter is held in place with a spring. The coffee grounds and oils go through the disc with high pressure forming your espresso.
Most espresso machines come with a metal disc filter nowadays, which are modeled on the commercial espresso machine style. Metal disc filters are best for giving you a stronger espresso because more of the coffee oils are squeezed through the disc into the espresso. If you want a stronger espresso, metal disc filters are a good choice. But you must clean the disc regularly so the taste doesn’t become bitter from the old coffee particles. Espresso machines are coming down in price and are small enough not to leave a large footprint on your desk top.
- Jets of Steam can be pushed through tiny holes creating espresso
- Not hard to clean
- More maintenance than paper filters
Filters are an essential part of coffee and will always be necessary, no matter how much coffee tech advances. They keep coffee clean and also protect the coffee machine from being clogged. In this article, I’ve discussed different types of coffee filters. We’ve looked into paper, metal, and plastic filters and what they have to offer as well as their pros and cons. Choosing the best filter depends on what you want from your coffee, your budget and taste.
If you’re looking for a darker coffee such as a specialty coffee a metal or plastic filter would be a good choice so you taste more unfiltered oils and flavors.