Filter coffee

Paper vs Metal Coffee Filters: Which Should You Choose?

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 The question of which filter you should use to brew your coffee has always been open to debate. Some will vouch for paper filters, while others will prefer metal ones. Both filter types are inherently different from each other and can make a significant difference to your cup of coffee.

In this article, we’ll explain why metal coffee filters are perfect for people who like it strong while paper filters work the best for light coffee lovers. We’ll also tap into how coffee filters work, the differences between metal and coffee filters, and the benefits of using coffee filters.

Let’s get into it.

What Are Coffee Filters?

When you brew coffee, you basically add crushed or ground coffee beans to hot water. It’s a simple process, but there is one problem. Some of the coffee grounds may not dissolve fully and can end up in your mouth while you drink your morning coffee. Given the bitter taste of coffee grounds, this isn’t exactly pleasant.

That’s where coffee filters come in. They help remove leftover coffee grounds from your coffee. There are several types of filters you can use for this. We are going to focus on the two most popular choices: Paper filters and metal filters.

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  • Cone-shape ensures uniform extraction for pure coffee flavor
  • Thicker (20-30% more than the competition) specialty fiber filter design keep bitter elements, oils, and grounds in their place (and out of your cup)
  • Will fit most other cone-shaped filter coffeemakers
  • Fits CHEMEX Coffeemakers CM-1, CM-1C, CM-1GH

What Are Paper Coffee Filters?

Preparing coffee using a paper filter

A paper coffee filter is made from crepe paper. It is also referred to as a disposable coffee filter. If you remember learning about crystallization in chemistry, then you are probably already familiar with the use of disposable coffee filters.  You can place the filter in the basket of your coffee brewer. This is usually above the pot that holds the brewed coffee.  

The filter is semi-permeable and works as a strainer. It holds the solid coffee grounds and allows the liquid coffee to pass through into the pot below. You can add a scoop of coffee grounds into the filter and pour hot water on top of them. As the water drains through the filter, it is able to absorb the color, flavor, and aroma of the grounds to give a nice cup of brewed coffee. You can also use this filter to make a cold brew.

There are primarily two types of paper filters: Bleached and unbleached filters.  

Bleached filters

They are made out of paper that has been subjected to the bleaching process. This means that they are treated with chlorine and oxygen to appear white.

Unbleached filters

These filters are made out of natural, untreated paper. Since it is unbleached, this coffee paper is slightly brown in color. This filter is more environment-friendly than bleached filters. Color is the primary indicator for bleached vs unbleached filters. If the filter appears too white, then it has been treated with chlorine.

There are several different sizes of disposable coffee filters available as well. Most people will use sizes two and four for brewing coffee.

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Pour Over Filter for Hario V60 and Chemex - Reusable Coffee Filter for Hario V60 Filter and Chemex Coffee Filter
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  • BETTER TASTING COFFEE: The metal coffee filter has a dual filtration system, with a high quality stainless steel mesh on the inside, and a laser-cut filter on the inside. The dual filter technology ensures that the most essential coffee oils and nutrients pass through to your coffee, while preventing any grounds from getting into your cup. Our customers rave that this cone coffee filter makes much better coffee than traditional paper filters!
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What Are Metal Coffee Filters?

Metal coffee filter

Metal coffee filters are made out of a fine metal mesh and have a hard plastic frame. They work in the same way as a disposable filter. However, unlike disposable coffee filters, metal filters are reusable. That’s why we also referred to as permanent coffee filters. Like the disposable filter, these filters can also be used to prepare a cold brew.

Metal coffee filters come in various types. If you are looking for a cheaper option, then you can buy a filter made out of nylon material. The other major kind of metal coffee filter is made out of gold. Permanent filters made out of stainless steel are also popular.

Paper Filters vs Metal Filters: What Are The Differences?

When it comes to brewing coffee, paper and metal filters may appear to work in the same manner. However, there are several significant differences between these two filter types. These include:

Cleaning up

Paper filters offer a lot of convenience in terms of cleaning up. All you have to do is fold up the filter carrying the coffee grounds and throw it in the trash. In the case of metal filters, you need to dispose of the coffee grounds in the trash and rinse the filter until it is clean. Of course, easier to say than to do, and it can be hard to get the coffee grounds out of the filter. They end up sticking to the insides of the filter, and you will have to use a paper towel or a rag to wipe them out. Some will still end up sticking inside, and you will need to rinse the filter with water to get these out.

Reusing the Filter

You cannot cannot reuse paper filters. If you have a lot of coffee, then you can imagine the amount of paper you are going to waste. Thus, paper filters aren’t the most environment-friendly option.  Metal filters, on the other hand, are reusable. A single filter can last for several years.

Type of Coffee making Methods

Disposable filters are mostly used for drip methods. Brew methods that make use of paper filters include automatic drip machine, pour-over cone drippers, Aeropress, and pour-over flat bottom drips.

You can use permanent filters for a variety of brewing methods as well. These include pour-over, French press, Moka pot, Espresso, percolator, Aeropress, and Duo Coffee Steeper. A special metal filter called phin is also used for Vietnamese coffee.

Making coffee using a filter

Removing Sediment

Whether you’re using paper or metal, the whole point of a filter is to prevent the coffee grounds from slipping into the pot of your coffee maker. So which does it better? Our vote would go to paper. Disposable filters make use of very fine and thick paper. You won’t see any holes at all in this type of filter. Consequently, these filters do an excellent job of retaining almost all of the coffee grounds while allowing the sediment-free liquid to pass through.

The level of sedimentation varies for permanent filters and depends upon the brewing method. For example, if you are brewing coffee with a French press, then you will find a lot of coffee grounds in your cup. On the other hand, if you are brewing using a Duo Coffee Steeper or a Kone filter, then the level of sedimentation will be relatively low.

Removing Oils

Another important difference between paper and metal coffee filters is the way they remove oils. Coffee grounds release oily substances called diterpenes. Disposable filters absorb these oils and prevent them from entering into your coffee. Permanent filters cannot absorb these oils. These oils can contribute to your bad cholesterol levels. They act as a stimulator for your LDL. Therefore, if you need to keep an eye on your cholesterol, then using a paper filter is the better choice.

On the other hand, these oils also impart a rich flavor to your coffee that cannot be found in disposable filter coffee. Thus, depending upon what you prefer, permanent filters will give you a stronger cup of coffee.

The Price

Price is an important consideration when choosing between metal and paper coffee filters. A pack of disposable coffee filters will cost between $3.00 and $5.00. This may seem not much, but since you need to keep buying them, the overall cost can come out to be pretty high.

Permanent filters are expensive, but they are usually a one-time purchase. Filters made out of stainless steel or gold last for a long time, which means you get better value for your money.

The Taste

You can get a light and vibrant cup of coffee if you use a disposable filter in your coffee brewer. Permanent filters will give you a full-bodied cup with a smooth yet complex flavor. However, the coffee oils can also make your coffee more bitter than necessary.

What Are The Major Benefits of Coffee Filters?

We mentioned earlier that coffee grounds release oily substances called diterpenes. There are two in coffee— Kahweol and Cafestol. As per a study published by Harvard, these compounds can block a cholesterol-regulating receptor found in the intestines. As a result, the intestines are unable to regulate the amount of cholesterol absorbed and excreted by the body. This can cause a significant hike in your blood cholesterol levels. According to an article published in Science Daily, drinking 5 cups of unfiltered coffee daily for a month can increase your cholesterol levels by 6 to 8 percent.

Out of the two diterpenes found in coffee, Cafestol also acts to increase your low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels. This can cause a hard plaque to form along the inner walls of your blood vessels. As a result, this may obstruct the blood flow, and that puts you at an increased risk of high blood pressure and a heart attack. You can also suffer from a stroke.

Metal vs Paper: Let’s Sum It Up

Overall, there are several differences between metal and paper coffee filters.

Paper coffee filters are:

Coffee pot
  • More convenient in terms of cleanup
  • Better for your health
  • Better at removing sediments
  • Costly in the long run
  • Less environment-friendly

Metal coffee filters are:

  • Environment-friendly
  • Cheaper in the long term
  • Difficult to clean
  • Not as effective in removing sediments
  • Not good for your cholesterol levels

If you do not have any immediate health concerns and prefer a full-bodied cup of coffee with a rich flavor, then we suggest you go for metal coffee filters. On the other hand, if you love a light and clean brew that will not affect your health, then paper filters are the way to go. You can experiment with both types and see which one you prefer!