Assuming you don’t drink instant coffee, you probably use some filter while preparing your caffeinated beverage of choice. But did you know that your choice of a filter can have significant implications for the taste of your morning cup of joe? Though most coffee filters are made of either paper or metal, one can easily find an endless list of variations within these broad categories. Besides affecting the taste, these variations can also have different impacts on your health and the environment around you. In this article, we’ll explore everything you need to know about metal and paper filters. We’ll go over the different types of filters within these names and their merits or demerits to help you decide which pick is the best one for you.
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Paper filters are the more confusing of the two because of the broader range of choices available, and so we’ll cover it first.
Paper filters can be either bleached or unbleached. Among the former, chlorine and oxygen are the two most common chemicals used for bleaching filters. Bleaching requires an additional step in the manufacturing process that turns paperwhite. This prevents it from inducing a papery taste on your coffee that is often caused by unbleached filters.
It is strange that though, unbleached filters require one less step to process, they are still generally more expensive than bleached filters. Something about natural paper filters seems to provide many coffee drinkers with a richer taste due to the sensory association of brown paper with organic and natural coffee. As such, many aficionados advocate for unbleached filters despite the papery taste we mentioned earlier.
On the face of it, a filter is merely meant to segregate the coffee grounds from liquid before it reaches your cup. Paper filters go a step further and absorb many of the oils and aromas of coffee as well. The metal filter lets these oils filter through while keeping mostly only the grounds back. This helps your cup of coffee retain the rich, complex flavors imbued within the coffee beans. It also adds a thicker layer of texture to the coffee.
Another key hallmark of metal filters is that they do not need to be repurchased regularly. It also minimizes paper waste, since a metal filter needs to be cleaned before its next use. A filter of decent quality can last for years and years before the slow buildup of coffee corrupts the filter.
Recent reports have shown that metal filters are good at one more thing: keeping harmful LDL cholesterol at bay. Given the dire consequences of excess cholesterol, this factor can well be crucial to many, especially those from older generations.
Paper or Metal Coffee Filters?
The answer to this question depends on how you like your coffee. Taste is one of the main contentions here. Do you prefer a thinner brew that is less oily and tastes refined, or are you one for thicker, richer coffees with flavors to ponder upon? Paper filters will give you the former, while metal filters are more suitable for the latter.
Besides the taste, however, the cost is another crucial factor to consider before making a choice. If you drink multiple cups of coffee a day, the cost of paper filters will start to add up fairly soon. It might be worth considering a metal filter instead. The filter might be a little hefty on the pocket initially, but they require only a few minutes to clean and are much more economical in the longer run. With proper care, they will last for several years.
Lastly, if you don’t find either one to suit your fancy, you can also consider cloth filters. These are relatively new and haven’t quite caught on in the same way as metal or paper filters. However, some of them, especially Bolio’s hemp ones, offer a decent filter that makes coffee that tastes somewhere between that of its alternatives.
If it all comes down to taste, metal filters are your best bet. This permanent filter can easily be cleaned and ensures zero paper waste. Despite the initial cost, it is a worthy investment for regular coffee drinkers. Paper filters, on the other hand, offer a much cleaner and refined tasting coffee that is often thinner in texture and contains somewhat subdued flavors. The cost of repurchasing paper coffee filters makes them more suitable for casual drinkers who only indulge once in a while. However, the bright acidity of paper filtered coffee will give you the same buzz as a metal filtered one. Regardless of which filter you buy, you’re assured good coffee with no grounds.
Thank you for reading! Let us know in the comments below which method you prefer. Be sure to also check out our piece on “Different Types of Coffee Filters” to see our pick on different kinds of filters.
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