Last Updated on May 16, 2022 by John Moretti
The type of filter that is used to brew a cup of coffee is one of the most vital and impactful aspects of the brewing process. Every type of filter produces different characteristics in the cup. Metal and paper filters are two of the most commonly used filters internationally, but how do they compare, and what are the benefits of using each type of filter?
Paper coffee filters provide better clarity, less texture, a smoother mouthfeel, and an overall lighter and more complex brew. Metal filters produce a muddier, less complex, more intense, more textured, full-bodied brew. Paper filters are disposable; metal filters can be reused, reducing waste.
Each type of coffee filter has its own characteristics and affects the brew differently. Even the smallest aspects of brewing coffee have a drastic result in the cup. The filter used is one of the biggest aspects of the brew, which makes it one of the most important. Let’s find out how paper and metal coffee filters affect brew and what some of the pros and cons of these filter types are.
Paper Coffee Filters
Paper coffee filters are some of the most popular coffee filters internationally. These filters are affordable and easily available, and there is a wide variety of paper filters that affect the brew in different ways. There are even paper filters designed for specific coffee brewers and brewing processes.
Using paper coffee filters is wasteful, as each filter can only be used one or two times before it must be discarded. Most paper filters are single-use only and thus generate a lot of waste.
However, paper filters remain a favorite in the coffee community due to the characteristics of the coffee brewing that they provide.
The biggest reason why paper coffee filters are preferred among many coffee enthusiasts is that paper filters provide incredible clarity in the cup, both flavor clarity and physical clarity.
This clarity is a result of the very small pore size of paper filters. The tiny pored within the paper mean that very few fine coffee particles, very little oil, and no larger particles from the coffee make it into the cup.
The clarity provided by paper filters makes the coffee easier to taste and makes identifying specific and unique flavor notes easier to do. For this reason, many prefer paper filters, as the coffee produced tends to taste more complex and have more character.
Let’s identify some of the major pros and cons of using paper coffee filters.
The Pros And Cons Of Using Paper Coffee Filters
Paper filters can produce excellent coffee, but there are some drawbacks to using this type of filter that come along with the positive aspects of brewing paper filters.
The pros of brewing coffee with paper filters include:
- Delicious flavor clarity.
- Crystal clear brewed coffee.
- Easily identifiable flavors and tasting notes.
- Smooth mouthfeel and texture.
- Lighter-bodied coffee.
The cons of brewing coffee with paper filters include:
- Paper filters must be thrown away and so are very wasteful.
- Paper filters remove all oils from the brewing, reducing the texture of the cup.
- The taste of paper can be present in the brew if the filter is too thick.
Metal Coffee Filters
The main alternative to paper coffee filters is metal coffee filters. There are metal filters available for almost every variety of coffee brewer and brewing device that requires filters, and this filter type comes with its own list of advantages and disadvantages.
One of the biggest reasons why metal filters are good for brewing coffee is because they provide a uniquely textured brew. The pores in metal filters are much larger than those of paper filters, which allows significantly more particles and oils into the brew.
This results in a less clear and less clear tasting cup of coffee, but it makes for a brew that is rich, densely flavored, heavily textured, full-bodied, and with a velvety, thick mouthfeel.
The texture and deep richness that come with using metal filters can be a shock at first, especially if you are used to brewing with paper filters.
The other major advantage of using metal coffee filters is that these filters are reusable. Using reusable metal filters drastically reduces coffee brewing waste and is cheaper in the long run compared to buying paper filters every week.
Metal filters are easy to clean, they provide a rich cup of textured coffee, and they are not wasteful. For these reasons, metal filters are preferred by many coffee lovers. Let’s highlight some of the important pros and cons of using this type of coffee filter.
The Pros And Cons Of Using Metal Coffee Filters
Metal coffee filters can be great to brew with, but they do have some disadvantages as well. No filter is perfect, but metal filters can be more difficult to brew with than paper filters. Let’s discuss the pros and cons of these filters more in-depth.
The pros of brewing coffee with metal filters include:
- More oils from the coffee make it into the brew.
- The brew is more textured, rich, and full-bodied.
- Metal filters do not affect the taste of the coffee.
- Metal filters are reusable.
- Metal filters are not wasteful.
- Metal filters are easy to clean.
- Metal filters are cheaper than paper filters long-term.
The cons of brewing coffee with metal coffee filters include:
- Metal coffee filters can make a brew muddier.
- Brewing with these filters reduces clarity.
- Metal filters are more expensive to buy outright.
- Metal filters are not available for every brewer.
- Using metal filters can make the brew taste more intense.
In the end of it, paper and metal coffee filters are both very effective for brewing coffee, but which is best for you comes down to how you prefer your coffee to taste and feel when drinking.
Metal filters offer great texture and intense flavor, while paper filters provide more complexity, less texture, and more flavor clarity. To determine which you prefer, buy a set of both, brew with them, and focus on finding differences between them. The filter that is best for you will quickly become apparent!