For coffee drinkers, the essential question following which bean to brew is the type of filter you plan to use. This is even more important if you plan to buy a new coffee machine soon. Paper coffee filters and permanent coffee filters have their unique advantages and disadvantages that must be considered before making a decision.
Certain filters may even have an effect on how the final cup of coffee tastes. While most modern coffee machines come with permanent filters, you can still choose between paper or permanent for your regular brews.
Why Do People Use Paper Coffee Filters?
Paper coffee filters are an easy-to-use option that allows for quick clean-up. They are biodegradable, so they won’t clog up landfills or contribute to excessive waste. It is the most common type of filter used in both commercial and residential drip brew machines.
They make clean up quick and easy, which is one of the main reasons people use this type of filter. A single pack of filters will usually last someone who drinks coffee every day for at least two months. So aside from the need to keep the coffee grounds out of your cup of brew, the main reason people use paper filters is simply their affordability and ease of use.
Do you Need a Paper Filter With a Permanent Filter?
If you are using a coffee machine that comes with a permanent filter, you don’t have to use a paper filter on top of it. Permanent filters are very good at filtering out coffee grounds, but they are not as effective as paper with blocking out the natural oils. If you want to add an extra layer to reduce the number of coffee oils that go into your brew, you can use a paper filter in addition to your permanent filter.
Which is Better: Unbleached or Bleached Paper Coffee Filters?
There are two types of biodegradable paper coffee filters; bleached and unbleached. Most people won’t notice the difference between the two, but for some, there is a noticeable difference in taste. Unbleached paper coffee filters have the habit of leaving behind a very slight aftertaste in the coffee after brewing.
For intense coffee flavors, this aftertaste may go unnoticed. However, a lighter roast may make it easier to identify. The taste is simply of the paper pulp itself, which can be strong depending on the source of the pulp. Bleached paper coffee filters remove all traces of the pulp taste, leaving a blank slate for your drip-brew. Other than personal preference, there is no difference between the two.
Which Paper Coffee Filter Is The Best?
All paper coffee filters are generally the same regardless of the brand. The main difference comes down to bleached filters and unbleached filters. Unbleached coffee filters usually are brown. This is because they are made from wood pulp and wood, of course, has a tan or brown color.
Treated wood pulp has the color bleached away, which is how you get white coffee filters. Brown filters are easier on the environment because they have not been treated with chemicals, so they break down faster. However, unbleached filters can pass along the taste of the wood pulp.
Bleached filters have no taste but take a bit longer to biodegrade. We suggest that you stick with mid-range paper coffee filters regardless of the paper color. Very cheap filters are prone to tearing, which will leave you with a mess in your coffee machine or on the floor.
What Are Permanent Coffee Filters Made Of?
Permanent coffee filters are made mainly of metal. Most higher-end filters will be crafted out of surgical-grade stainless steel, though some may feature a nylon and steel mix.
There are also permanent coffee filters that have a layer of gold over the stainless steel mesh. This helps filter more oils from each brew and prevents too much flavor transfer as the filter ages.
Which Are Better- Permanent Coffee Filters Better or Paper Coffee Filters?
An excellent permanent coffee filter not only enhances the taste of your coffee but will also be easy to clean. In reality, permanent filters will start to leave additional flavors in your brewed coffee after about 20-30 brews. This is not due to a breakdown in the product but rather from the natural coffee oils and micro-grounds from your previous pots of coffee.
As far as being sustainable, they are better than using paper filters, but they do take more time and effort to maintain. A high-quality filter can run anywhere from $25 to $100, which is more affordable in the long run than paper filters. Both permanent and paper filters have their benefits and drawbacks, making the final result boil down to personal preference.
Are Paper Coffee Filters Cheaper and Healthier?
The most significant advantage of using a permanent filter is your overall savings. Paper filters are generally cheap, but if you brew two pots a day for a month, you will have already saved more than the cost of your permanent coffee filter versus paper filters.
Overall, paper filters will not be a cheaper choice for households or offices that brew more than one pot of coffee each day. That being said, cost-effectiveness is not the only thing paper filters have to offer. Metal filters are cheaper. You will eventually notice a flavor transfer after a certain number of brews, leading to an unbalanced taste. Since apaper filter prevents the coffee oils to enter through it, it will prevent alteration of the coffee’s flavor no matter how many times you brew.
Paper filters also have the added benefit of capturing higher amounts of coffee oil. While you may be wondering why there would be oil in your coffee, it is a natural byproduct of the bean that gives each cup its rich flavor. Coffee oils are known to raise cholesterol levels, so if you are looking to have a healthier cup, chose paper filters. Metal filters capture some oils but nowhere near as much as paper oils, which is often why each brew’s taste will change over time with permanent filters.
Which Type Is Easier To Clean- Paper or Permanent Coffee Filter?
Of the two, paper filters are going to be the easiest to clean and maintain. Once you are done brewing a pot of coffee, all you have to do is remove the paper filter and toss it into the trash or your compost pile. Permanent filters need a bit more attention after each brew.
Depending on the type and material, you may need to soak your filter following each brew to get rid of oils and micro-grounds. It is important to use gentle soap and to rinse them completely, or you will end up with soapy bubbles in your morning cuppa.
Are Permanent Coffee Filters Better For The Environment?
Paper coffee filters are crafted out of crepe paper and are fully disposable. Paper filters are biodegradable in nature, so you can toss them in your compost heap instead of putting them in the trash.
Unbleached paper filters are created through an oxygen process and have a slightly brown color. These are considered better for the environment than bleached paper filters, which use a chlorine process.
How To Use A Permanent Coffee Filter
Metal filters are simple and easy to use. In fact, they operate in the same way as a paper filter. Only the clean-up is different. Before putting on a pot of coffee to brew, it is a good idea to wipe down your permanent filter to get rid of any leftover oils or residue. Next, add coffee grounds to the filter following your preferred recipe and brew your pot of coffee as usual.
The main difference in the brewed cup is that you will get more micro-grounds in each cup than you would with a paper filter. This will mean a thicker cup of coffee, but not so thick that it resembles Cuban coffee. Instead, each cup of coffee will feel a bit heavier instead of having a crisp and clean taste.
Cleaning permanent coffee filters is the next step, and although this isn’t the easiest thing, it’s not all that hard. Once your coffee is done brewing, you will need to allow the used grounds to cool and then dump them onto your compost heap or into the waste bin. Make sure that you get them all out, or you will end up with a clogged sink later down the road. Then wash your filter and leave it out to air dry before your next use.
Gold vs Stainless Steel Coffee Filter – Which is Better?
Most permanent coffee filters are made out of stainless steel, though some lower-end models may use nylon. Stainless steel filters are affordable and offer an eco-friendly way to have your coffee without the need for wasteful paper filters. In addition to stainless steel permanent coffee filters, there are also gold-tone permanent coffee filters. The goldtone filters are simple stainless steel filters with a layer of high-quality 24- karat gold plated foil.
In most modern drip brewers that come with permanent filters, gold-tone is the preferred choice. The advantage of gold-tone filters is that your coffee will be able to keep its natural flavor brew after brew. With regular stainless steel, the taste may start to change over time due to trapped oils and micro-grounds.
Gold coffee filters also are an effective shield that prevents both oils and grit from passing through, similar to paper filters but without the waste. Gold-tone filters also help boost the natural antioxidant properties of coffee and reduce the grounds’ bitterness at the same time.
What Can You Use Instead of a Coffee Filter?
If you are not a fan of paper coffee filters or permanent coffee filters, you may be wondering about other options. Perhaps you are out of filters and need to find a quick alternative. Paper towels are a common item in most kitchens, and you can use them as a coffee filter in a pinch. If you have fine wave paper towels, you will be able to catch even more micro-grounds and sediment than a regular paper filter.
Another quick alternative is a clean sock. Sounds gross, yes, is it practical, also yes. Most typical weave socks are great alternatives that can be used to filter regular or medium ground coffee if you happen to be low on filters. Make sure the sock is clean, toss in a few scoops of coffee grounds, and then run hot water over it. The result is a perfect brew that hopefully doesn’t taste like feet.
Parchment paper is another common kitchen staple, but unlike the others, you can’t use it to filter coffee. Parchment paper is designed to prevent leakage, sticking and help keep your food safe while baking. Most often, it is coated with a layer of wax or a similar chemical. Not only is this not safe for running hot water through, but the paper will also actively work to prevent seepage.
How Many Times Can a Permanent Coffee Filter Be Used?
A reusable or permanent coffee filter made from stainless steel or a gold-toned filter is quite sturdy. High-quality models will cost between $15 and $75. Most models will last as long as seven years with proper care and maintenance. The actual longevity will depend on the model; some will advertise a brew number such as 2000 pots of coffee, while others will give a specific time frame before the filter should be replaced.
Permanent coffee filters are a cost-effective way to get your coffee while also being environmentally conscious. They are a bit of a hassle to clean, but if you have the patience, the trade-off is not so bad. Paper coffee filters are mess-free and also healthier overall, thanks to their ability to trap higher amounts of oil. The coffee you brew through paper will also be much sweeter and brighter than that produced by metal filters.
When it comes to coffee filters, the best choice comes down to paper filters or metal filters. Both offer a diverse set of advantages, but overall, it will come down to which fits your taste and your lifestyle. People who prefer easy clean-up and love the taste of a bright acidic cup of coffee will be best suited to paper coffee filters. If you don’t mind a heavier coffee and have the extra time to dedicate to cleaning your filter and machine, a permanent coffee filter will meet your needs.