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Types of Coffee Filters and Which to Choose

What do you think of when you hear “coffee filter”? Maybe just the traditional about coffee filter papers, right? Well, there are various types of coffee filters that you might not know – or maybe you have not noticed before!

In this Portfolio Coffee blog, you will learn all about the coffee filter varieties and which one is the best for you depending on the type of coffee you want to make!

The Importance of Choosing the Right Filter

The Importance of Choosing the Right Filter

Although you might not think about them too often, coffee filters are a very important part of the brewing process. They have the power to directly impact the taste of the coffee you are making as well as its clarity.

Commercial filters are made from different materials and come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some types of coffee filters are reusable, and others are not. And there are some filters that are easier to clean than others too.

As all these features of the filters can affect your brewing process and the resulting coffee flavor, it is important that you – as a coffee lover - get to know all the types of coffee filters that you have at your disposal.

Find out about the diverse types of coffee filters, make a wise decision based on your coffee preferences, and enjoy a better cup of joe thanks to the wonder of the right filters.

Types of Coffee Filters by Material

Types of Coffee Filters by Material

In this article, we are going to look at the two main types of coffee filters and we are going to differentiate them depending on the material they are made from. We are going to see how they work, how to clean them, their pros and cons, and more.

But first, you need to understand in which instance you will need to use them. This depends on the coffee makers you have available to you – or that you are planning to acquire in the future.

Filters made of paper will be used for Pour-Over (V60, Kalita, Bee Hive), Chemex, Aeropress, and Automatic Drip Machines. Meanwhile, filters made of metal will be used for Espresso, French Press, Moka Pot, and some kinds of Aeropress and Siphon.

Paper Coffee Filters

Paper Coffee Filters

Coffee filter papers are – as we have said repeatedly now – the most common option when you think of a filter for your coffee. Maybe because in our modern and frenetic times, automatic drip machines are the most popular choice for making coffee.

The paper that is used for making this type of coffee filter is thin to retain coffee grounds – so they will not go into your coffee cup – but porous enough for water to pass through smoothly.

One of the features that can make you choose coffee filter papers over other types of coffee filters is that they can absorb coffee oils. During the brewing process, the oils that are responsible for giving coffee its particular flavor are extracted from the coffee grounds.

So, if you prefer a clearer and lighter cup of coffee with a soft taste instead of a stronger bitter one, devices that use coffee filter papers like pour-over and Chemex are the right choice for you.

Are Coffee Filter Papers Reusable?

 Unfortunately, coffee filter papers are not reusable but disposable. This means you will need to make sure that you have enough of them in your kitchen cabinet to restock.

Cost should not impose a major barrier as paper coffee filters are generally affordable. Although coffee filters papers  are one of the cheapest types of coffee filters, there is concern over the environmental impact they create.

But the good news is that there are two main types of coffee filter papers, and one is more eco-friendly than the other.

Bleached and Unbleached Coffee Filter Papers

bleached Coffee Filter Papers

Also named after their colors, bleached (white) and unbleached (brown) coffee filter papers are the two most common types that you will find in the market.

To better understand their differences, let’s start with the basics. Paper used to make coffee filter papers is brown by nature, so if you come across white coffee filter papers that means they have passed through a bleached process to render them white.

The bleaching process applied to natural coffee filter papers does not make coffee taste different. Chlorine and oxygen are the only two substances used to make these types of coffee filters, and chlorine is utilized in such minimal amounts that you have nothing to worry about.

So, what is the difference between bleached and unbleached coffee filter papers then? The main difference is that unbleached coffee filter papers are less processed and therefore use fewer processes, and are, therefore, more environmentally friendly than bleached coffee filter papers.

Do Coffee Filter Papers Leave a Papery Taste on Coffee?

Coffee filter papers can pass on a papery taste to the resulting coffee if you do not use them properly. To avoid drinking coffee that tastes like wet cardboard – or even worse, offering it to your guests! – follow the simple steps below.

First, rinse the coffee filter papers with hot water before using them. Wet these types of coffee filters completely and let water pass through them. Then, discard any remaining water and the initial papery taste will be washed away as you see it go through the kitchen sink. 

Do I Have to Clean Coffee Filter Papers?

Do I Have to Clean Coffee Filter Papers

Nope. An advantage of coffee filter papers being disposable is that you do not have to clean them after using them.

Just remember to make the pre-rinse process described above and you are ready to use your coffee filter papers to make light-bodied and smooth-tasting cups of joe.

Which Coffee Variety Goes Better with Coffee Filter Papers?

‘Specialty coffee’ is the recommended grade to use with coffee filter papers. Thanks to the clarity that coffee filter papers provide when absorbing oils, you can better differentiate the subtleties of these coffee flavor notes.

On the other hand, brewing methods that do not use paper filters, let more oil particles into the resulting coffee, and therefore it has a thicker texture. This heavier body can make it difficult to distinguish the flavor notes of specialty coffee.

So that being said, single-origin, light-roasted coffee varieties like La Quebrada single origin Nicaraguan coffee or Bombe Sidama single origin Ethiopia coffee are great choices for using with coffee filter papers.

Metal Coffee Filters

 Metal Coffee Filters

It might be hard to conjure up a mental image of metal coffee filters but we will consider them along with you there. How do the Moka pot or the espresso coffee machine work? Have you ever placed coffee filter papers into a French press?

The coffee makers listed above - plus some kinds of Aeropress – are able to prepare our favorite cups of coffee thanks to the metal coffee filters they have inside. These types of coffee filters are typically made of stainless steel or aluminum.

The metal mesh of these types of coffee filters is the one in charge of filtering the coffee grounds and separating them from the resulting coffee. Metal meshes contain larger pores than coffee filter papers, allowing coffee oils and other tiny particles to pass through.

As you have read above, more oils mean more flavor and a stronger body. So, if you prefer to have a nice cup of beautifully bitter-tasting coffee in the mornings to wake you up, metal coffee filters may be ideal for you.

Are Metal Filters Reusable?

 Are Metal Filters Reusable

Yes, they are. The second most exciting advantage of metal coffee filters – beyond enhancing the coffee flavor – is that they are reusable. In other words, you do not have to ever worry about being out of filters to make your coffee, which might happen if you rely on methods that require paper coffee filters.

Consequently, they are a more environmentally friendly option too. Usually, you are going to have just one metal coffee filter per coffee brewing device and that’s all, meaning fewer resources required to get that caffeine fix. Just take care to look after it properly to ensure it lasts and does not affect the taste of your coffee.

How Often Do I Need to Clean Metal Coffee Filters?

We are not going to lie here, taking care of these types of coffee filters can be a little laborious sometimes. But it’s so worth it!

The natural oils that we have mentioned before can get rancid quickly if you do not make a simple habit of cleaning your metal coffee filter after every use. Furthermore, a deeper cleaning once a week or at least once a month is advisable, too.

But do not worry. As with any new habit, the more you do it, the more you are going to get used to it. After a few times cleaning your metal coffee filter, you will find yourself perfecting the process and doing it better and faster.

Guide to Everyday Cleaning of Metal Coffee Filters

 Everyday Cleaning of Metal Coffee Filters

To start the simple cleaning of your metal coffee filter, you will need to remove the remaining coffee grounds from the metal mesh first. You can hit the metal coffee filter gently over the trash can so the coffee grounds will be dislodged.

If you want to preserve the coffee grounds for any kitchen or beauty use, you can store them in an airtight container. But if you are planning to discard them, please do not put them down the kitchen sink, as coffee grounds are hard to break up and they can easily get stuck and clog the piping system.

After this, rinse the metal coffee filter with boiling water to remove the remaining coffee oils and let it dry by air or wipe it with a microfiber cloth for storage for the next use.

Guide to Deep Cleaning of Metal Coffee Filters

Remove the coffee grounds from the metal coffee filter, as you would for the everyday cleaning routine. Then, separate the metal mesh from the other parts of the metal coffee filter and rinse them all with boiling water.

Prepare a solution of 1/3 white vinegar and 2/3 water, place the metal coffee filter parts in an appropriate container, and pour the white vinegar and water solution over them. Leave the metal coffee filter in this solution for a couple of hours – or even overnight if you prefer.

When the time has passed, rinse the metal coffee filter parts with running water and let them dry or wipe them with a microfiber cloth. After all the parts are dried out, join them again so your metal coffee filter is ready for the next use.

Which Coffee Variety Goes Better with A Metal Coffee Filter?

These types of coffee filters are known to produce a full-bodied, strongly flavored, and deeply aromatic coffee, thanks to the natural oils that they allow to pass through.

If you would like to taste all the benefits of these types of coffee filters, make sure you are using coarse coffee grounds in the first place. Finely ground coffee can pass easily through the large pores of the metal coffee filter and leave sediments on your coffee.

To make the most of the heavy body, bold flavor, and extra aroma that metal coffee filters provide, remember to choose dark roasted – and coarsely ground specialty coffees like this Inga Aponte single origin Colombian coffee or the Fazenda Sucuri single origin Brazilian coffee.

Final Thoughts About Coffee Filters

 Final Thoughts About Coffee Filters

What do you think of the different types of coffee filters that we’ve studied and reviewd in this blog? Are you ready to choose between devices that use coffee filter papers or the ones that work with the help of a metal mesh filter?

Remember the coffee filter you choose will impact your coffee’s characteristics like flavor and body and will dictate how much time you will need to dedicate to cleaning them, if applicable.

You can also make a big difference by choosing a more environmentally friendly coffee filter, so take your time to analyze the different types of coffee filters and select the one that fits you the best!

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