When it comes to coffee making supplies, coffee filters are one of the most underappreciated tools. Despite its humble and unassuming appearance, a coffee filter can greatly influence the taste of your morning brew. So if you’re trying to brew the best gourmet coffee, then coffee filters should definitely be on your coffee supplies and equipment checklist. With homebrewing becoming more accessible, a good coffee filter should definitely be available on your breakfast bars and at home cafe set-ups.
Whether you’re debating between drip coffee versus pour over coffee, looking for a better filter, or wondering how a coffee filter works its magic on your cup of coffee, read through this short and comprehensive guide to coffee filters:
What is a Coffee Filter?
A coffee filter is a vital equipment for brewing coffee using the pour over method. With a coffee filter, you are able to trap coffee grounds for a smoother and finer brew. Although paper coffee filters like the Hario V60 filter paper are the most common, coffee filters can also be made from metal or cloth.
Depending on what material your coffee filter is made from, there will be slight variations on your brew’s overall taste. Of course, each material also has their own pros and cons. While these differences may not be very pronounced, they can elevate your coffee experience.
If you’re trying to maximize your coffee filter usage or if you’re trying to find out which filters work best for your coffee then read on.
Types of Coffee Filters
While there are many different types and brands of coffee filters available on the market, these filters still generally fall under two main categories: disposable or reusable.
Disposable coffee filters are almost always made of bleached or unbleached paper. By virtue of paper coffee filters being disposable, they are only used once. A huge selling point for disposable coffee filters is that you don’t have to clean them. Once you’re done brewing your cup, you can simply throw away the used filter--making it an excellent option for coffee lovers who are looking for a hassle-free and convenient way to make their favorite drink.
Reusable or permanent coffee filters, on the other hand, provide a sustainable alternative to your pour over coffee filters. Reusable coffee filters are usually made of cloth or metal and need to be cleaned each time they are used. With cloth and metal coffee filters, you reduce the need to continuously buy disposable filters which helps you save up in the long run.
Aside from these general categories, types of coffee filters may also be categorized based on the following:
Coffee filters can be made of various materials. Among the most popular materials used are paper, metal, and cloth. Similar to how each brewing method has pros and cons, different coffee filters have their own distinct quality.
Here are some of the salient features of different coffee filter types:Paper
Paper coffee filters are the most common type of coffee filter on the market nowadays. Made of tightly woven paper, this particular type of coffee filter is designed to keep very fine coffee grounds from slipping into your brew. Paper coffee filters come in packs as they are single use coffee filters. Coffee made with paper filters has a clean and smooth taste that coffee lovers will appreciate, regardless of whether the filter uses bleached or unbleached paper.
Paper filters are cheap and easily accessible in most coffee supply stores. If you’re just familiarizing yourself with coffee filters or if you’re looking for a relatively inexpensive grocery store find, then a paper coffee filter would be a good option for you. Keep in mind, however, that in order to make excellent coffee, you need to have quality coffee filters too.Cloth
If you want to brew a rich and robust cup of coffee, then a cloth coffee filter might be perfect for you. Made of muslin or cotton, cloth filters are also known as “coffee socks” due to their appearance. While cloth coffee filters generally function the same way as metal and paper filters do, the material allows for more oils to be extracted from the grounds, resulting in a deliciously smooth and strong brew. A cloth coffee filter is more environmentally friendly than paper filters and is marginally cheaper than having to regularly buy paper filters.
An important thing to consider when getting a cloth filter is that it requires meticulous cleaning as it builds up mildew. If you’re using a cloth filter, make sure to thoroughly clean it after each use and to make sure that you keep it damp in between uses.Metal
Metal coffee filters give you the strongest and boldest brew among the types of coffee filter. Although metal coffee filters still have a mesh that prevents the sediments from falling in the brew, some coffee grounds may still escape as it is not as fine as cloth or paper filters. On the other hand, the material’s structure doesn’t fully filter out the coffee oils resulting in a decadent full-bodied brew that coffee connoisseurs are sure to appreciate.
Metal coffee filters are the most expensive option among the three, however, its reusability and ease more than make up for its cost. If you’re investing in a coffee filter for long time use, then a metal coffee filter is the way to go.
Coffee filters have three shapes to choose from. Each shape is conducive for a specific brewing method, which makes each shape quite unique. Coffee filters usually take any of these three main shapes: a cone, a basket, or a disk.
The most recognizable shape for coffee filters is a cone. A conical coffee filter is often used for manual brewing methods such as the pour over method. The cone shape of the filter assists in letting the water flow freely through the grounds.
Basket coffee filters are shaped like cupcake wrappers, with its flat bottom and crinkled edges. Best suited for manual brewing methods such as drip coffee, this coffee filter may result in a brew that has an uneven extraction because of its shape.
Disk coffee filters are flat circular filters that are usually used for Aeropress coffee.
While disk filters only come in one size, cone and basket coffee filters come in a range of sizes that suits your coffee needs.
Conical Filter Sizes
01: suitable for a single serving
02: suitable for 2-4 cups of coffee
04: suitable for 8-12 cups of coffee
06: suitable for 10+ cups of coffee
Basket Filter Sizes
Junior: makes about 4-6 cups of coffee
Large: makes about 8-12 cups of coffee
How to Use Your Coffee Filter
Using a coffee filter can vary, depending on what equipment you are using to brew your cup of coffee.
If you are using a coffee machine to brew your coffee, all you have to do is simply place the filter in the filter section of the machine. Make sure to read the brewing instructions carefully and pick the appropriate material for your coffee filter.
On the other hand, if you are using a manual brewing method such as the pour over method to make your coffee, here is one of the best ways to ensure that you make a delicious brew:
- Place the filter in your container.
- Prepare the filter by soaking it with boiling water. Make sure to discard the excess liquid once your filter is thoroughly soaked.
- Add in your coffee grounds. Make sure that you measure your coffee grounds!
- Set a timer and begin pouring your hot water over the filter in a circular motion.
- Allow the coffee grounds to brew for a few minutes.
How to Clean Your Coffee Filter
If you’re using disposable coffee filters, then you don’t really have to worry about cleaning coffee filters. However, if you’re using reusable coffee filters, maintaining coffee filter hygiene is a must. Whether you’re using a cloth or metal filter, ensuring that your coffee filters are clean is essential when brewing coffee.
Here are some notes to remember when cleaning your reusable coffee filters:
Cleaning Metal Coffee Filters:
Cleaning and sanitizing metal coffee filters isn’t the most tedious process. With a little scrubbing and a thorough rinse, metal pour over coffee filters are usually good to go. However, avoid being too harsh on your metal coffee filters as this may cause unevenness and scratches on your filter.
Here are some tips on handling metal filters:
- Use a non-abrasive scrubby pad, mild soap, and warm water to gently clean the filter.
- If you are trying to get rid of stains, you may use some white vinegar and a soft toothbrush to scrub the stains away.
- Make sure to clean both sides of the filter after each use to prolong your metal coffee filter’s life.
Cleaning Cloth Coffee Filters:
Unlike metal and paper filters, the cleaning process for “coffee socks” is a bit more tedious. Aside from ensuring that your cloth filters are thoroughly cleaned, it is important to make sure that the filter stays damp in between uses.
Here are some tips on cloth filter maintenance:
- Discard the grounds and rinse out your filter until you can visibly see the water is clear once more.
- Soak the filter for five to ten minutes at least once a week to discard lingering coffee oils and other residue.
- Diligently rinse out the filter after each use to avoid mildew and to prolong the filter’s life.
Enjoy the Perfect Brew at Home!
A good coffee filter is something that should be in every coffee lover’s arsenal. Whether you wish to try out a manual brewing method, like the pour over method, or a more automatic process, high quality coffee filters are a great way to ensure that you have the perfect cup of coffee each and every time.
Browse through our selection of coffee supplies, equipment, and coffee grounds to make your coffee making process at home a delight.