Many coffee aficionados or just anyone who’s been around the industry for some time has heard a thing or two about coffee filters.
Bleached or unbleached filters, paper or metal filters and arguments over different manufacturers do dominate a lot of coffee blogs.
We’ll look at all the variants with a little introduction about each if this is the first time you’re coming across them.
A History Of Coffee Filters
Coffee filters have been around for a long time now, many organic filtering methods were used in the past but the coffee sock is the most popular one.
Made of cotton and folded into a sock-like filter, the coffee sock was very common until very early in the twentieth century when paper filters were beginning to get increasingly popular.
Melitta Bentz, a coffee lover in East Germany started trying out paper of different sizes and materials to remove as much grounds as she could from her coffee as other methods weren’t working.
She found the perfect solution in her son’s blotting paper which held the most grounds and then applied for a patent.
In July 1908, the Melitta Bentz Company was founded and this contributed to the rising popularity of paper filters at the time because other companies got into the market.
Bleached Vs Unbleached Coffee Filters
Bleached coffee filters are filters that have been whitened. Chlorine or oxygen can be used in bleaching.
The technology is at an advanced stage currently so using a bleached paper won’t change your coffee’s flavor neither will it hurt you.
Emissions during manufacturing can be harmful to the environment so oxygen-bleached papers are the eco-friendly devices.
Unbleached coffee filters are brown just like the color of their source material, wood, so most of the white paper you see around (not just coffee filters) are bleached papers.
Filter Quality and Thickness
These are two features many people don’t check when buying a coffee filter but they can affect your coffee’s taste.
Even when you’re on a budget, try to buy your filter from the trusted brands so you don’t get something of poor quality.
The papery taste that comes with most of the unbleached filters is a problem that has to do with quality and using a bleached filter solves that.
Thick filters will trap oils and some part of your flavor out of the drink so you should consider this if you need a lot of those to get a good drink but if you’re brewing with a strong grind and you need to step down its flavor, you’ll need that trapping effect and a thick filter will be perfect for that.
Filters that are too thin will trap grinds that are larger than average and let most of your water in.
Bleached coffee filters generally have to go through more processing than the unbleached variants but surprisingly, the unbleached papers are more expensive, maybe this is due to the natural feel they come with.
Oxygen bleached papers are thicker and slightly more expensive than the chlorine ones.
Paper Vs. Metal Coffee Filters
One problem you’ll face if you drink a lot of coffee is having to buy a lot of paper filters since you can’t reuse them.
Metal filters are reusable and are the budget option in the long run but they don’t come without problems.
Metal filters have to be washed after each use and it can be quite a hassle if the grounds get sticky but paper filters just need to be discarded.
Paper filters also remove more cafestol, a substance which raises the levels of bad LDL cholesterol in your body but since no metal filter has to be processed by bleaching, unbleached paper filters, which will remove cafestol and prevent bleaching agents in your drink is the healthy option.
The Best Option?
The answer to that is quite subjective, some coffee brewing machines don’t accept certain filters and issues around cost, safety and environmental friendliness can affect your choice.