Choosing the right coffee filter can be confusing, often sparking a huge debate within the coffee community. Paper filters are by far the most popular, however even within the paper category you’ve got options! From the differences in bleaching to alternative filter materials, here we’ve got the low down on the different types of filter and which are best for your brew.
Bleached or Unbleached?
There’s been heavy debate about whether bleached filters make a difference to the taste of coffee. In theory bleaching shouldn’t affect the taste, however, the bleaching process to make bleached filters appear white often uses harsh chemicals. There are different methods to bleach the filter paper, from using chemicals such as chlorine, to using oxygen to whiten them. If you’re looking for the best quality of bleached filter, try finding a filter that is bleached using oxygen.
We generally prefer unbleached biodegradable filters as they are more environmentally-friendly due to having been through less manufacturing steps. However some natural filters can leave a slight paper taste. If you’re using an unbleached filter, try adding the filter to your coffee maker, pouring a little hot water onto the filter first and then discarding the water. This will help remove any taste of paper coming through.
The paper vs. metal coffee filter topic again sparks much debate! Many coffee lovers will say that a metal filter just doesn’t produce the same taste as a paper filter, making the coffee more fuller-bodied and leaving oils/ sediment in the cup. Paper filters generally leave the coffee brighter in flavour and lighter in body.
However the benefits of metal filters include having a better overall environmental impact than paper filters, due to their reusable nature. They also cost more up front, however will likely save you money in the long run. There are many metal filters on the market that fit different brewing apparatus, such as the Able Kone for Chemex.
There are a rising number of cloth filters now available for coffee makers, such as these Hario cloth filters for woodnecks. Many use cotton, and we’ve seen some new filters using hemp, a sustainable plant source, which is stronger than cotton. Though cloth filters aren’t quite as good as paper filters in letting oils/ sediment through, they’re generally considered better than metal filters. Like the metal filters, they generally produce a slightly deeper and richer taste than paper.