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Does the type of coffee filter you choose make a difference in the flavor of your coffee? There’s a lot of evidence that coffee filters do indeed make a difference in the final product — and not just in flavor. Paper coffee filters, for example, capture cafestol, an oily chemical in coffee that promotes the development of LDL — the so-called bad cholesterol. If you’re trying to control cholesterol, choosing paper coffee filters is a healthy decision. If you’re concerned about the environment, on the other hand, you may prefer to choose reusable cloth coffee filters or permanent mesh filters rather than toss out a paper coffee filter every time you make a pot of coffee. Check out the different types of coffee filters available and the pros and cons associated with each one to help you decide the best coffee filters for you to use.
Paper Coffee Filters
Paper coffee filters are the most commonly used and most popular type of coffee filter on the market. As noted, they remove cafestol from coffee as it passes through the filter. Paper filters are meant to be used once and thrown away. While they’re generally inexpensive, the cost of using paper coffee filters adds up, especially if you opt for better quality paper filters that are less likely to break or tear.
Easy to clean: You throw away the paper coffee filter — with or without the spent coffee grounds — immediately after you brew your coffee. There’s nothing to wash out or clean, though you may want to wash the filter holder after each use to remove coffee residue.
Remove oils that increase cholesterol
Paper filters are the only kind of filter that removes cafestol or diterpenes, coffee oils that have been connected with higher LDL cholesterol
Paper coffee filters are biodegradable, so they will decompose in composts and landfills.
Unlike cloth coffee filters and permanent nylon or metal filters, paper coffee filters don’t stick around long enough to grow bacteria or collect residue.
Damaging to the Environment
Used coffee filters do decompose, but it takes time. Until they do, they contribute to the cluttering of landfills. In addition, millions of trees are cut down annually to make paper coffee filters. Choosing a permanent filter or cloth filter doesn’t contribute to deforestation.
Types of Paper Coffee Filters
White coffee filters (bleached coffee filters)
White coffee filters have been bleached with chlorine, natural oxygen or some other chemical to get that bright, white color. They are generally cheaper than brown natural coffee filters, but the chemicals used can end up in the environment. In addition, some people say they can taste the difference — that bleached coffee filters give coffee an “off” flavor.
Natural brown filters (unbleached coffee filters)
Brown is the natural color of paper. Natural brown coffee filters have not been processed or bleached. While most people will tell you that there is no difference in the quality or flavor of coffee made with bleached and unbleached filters, many people believe that they can taste a difference.
These days, you can also buy paper coffee filters made from bamboo, which grows far faster than the trees typically used to make paper.
Permanent Coffee Filters
Tired of throwing away coffee filters — and your money? Permanent coffee filters cost more up front than paper coffee filters, but they can be used over and over for years. While you may be able to buy 10 boxes of coffee filters for the price of one permanent gold, titanium or nylon coffee filter, you’ll still be using your permanent coffee filter long after you toss out the last paper coffee filter.
As long as you clean it regularly, you’ll get years of use from a permanent coffee filter.
Permanent coffee filters allow more coffee oils and coffee through than paper filters. That results in coffee with a fuller body and richer flavor.
Permanent filters are the most ecologically friendly option. They don’t contribute to deforestation or produce any waste to choke landfills.
Permanent coffee filters must be cleaned after each use to remove coffee residues that can breed bacteria and ruin the taste of your coffee. It only takes a few moments, but it’s an added step in your daily coffee routine.
Even the finest mesh allows more coffee through the filter, so you’ll usually end up with some sediment in the bottom of your cup or carafe.
Permanent Filter Options
Gold Permanent Coffee Filters
Most gold permanent filters are made of stainless steel mesh with gold plating. The better quality gold filters may be plated with genuine 23-carat gold. They’re the better option in permanent coffee filters as long as you’re vigilant about cleaning them.
Nylon permanent coffee filters
The other common option for permanent coffee filters is nylon. They cost less than metal coffee filters but won’t last as long and may add a slight acidic taste to coffee as they get older.
Cloth Coffee Filters
Cloth coffee filters are fairly easy to find in small neighborhood stores that feature international foods, such as neighborhood Cuban or Spanish markets. They may be made of hemp, muslin or cotton fabric, and usually fit on a metal hoop attached to a handle. To use them, you simply pour the unfiltered coffee through the fabric into a carafe, mug or cup. Some beautifully handmade coffee makers feature a cloth coffee filter.
Great tasting coffee
At least when the coffee sock is clean. The larger pores in cloth coffee socks let more coffee through, which results in a more flavorful cup of coffee with fuller body.
Many cloth coffee filters are an environmentally sound option. Look for filters that are made with sustainably grown plants and fibers.
You can often find cloth coffee filters for $2 to $3 at local stores or online.
Cloth coffee filters must be rinsed with water after each use, but will eventually stain and retain some of the coffee oils.
Cloth coffee filters last longer than paper filters but not as long as permanent metal or nylon filters. Expect to replace a cloth coffee filter 2 to 3 times a year.