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Permanent Coffee Filter vs. Paper

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Over the years I have been led to believe that paper coffee filters are the only filters you should use if you truly appreciate the flavors of coffee. Ask any coffee connoisseur, and they will probably tell you the same. However, recently I am starting to rethink and question the old debate of permanent coffee filter vs. paper.

With the new permanent coffee filters in the marketplace, I find that the taste is a lot better when compared to using paper filters. The problem with paper is that they absorb a lot of the coffee oils that ultimately contribute to the flavor of your coffee.

However, using the permanent metal filter, I have found that my coffee is far more enjoyable and has a much richer flavor and fuller body. So if you’re on the fence I strongly suggest that you give a permanent coffee filter a try, I think they’re better than using the paper filters – if you enjoy a bold cup of coffee that’s full of flavor.

The Differences Between the Two Coffee Filter Types

If you are unsure of exactly what these two types of coffee filters are I’ve provided a few details below. Also, I have briefly talked about the gold coffee filter, which is another good permanent option for filtering your coffee.

Paper Coffee Filters

coffee blooming in a paper filter

Paper coffee filter or sometimes referred to as disposable filters are made from crepe paper and are the perfect option for quickly making a carafe of coffee without the hassle of cleaning up afterward. Once your brew is done you just remove the paper filter and throw in the trash.

Paper filters may be more convenient but not so good for the environment. Yes, they are biodegradable but if you consider yourself an environmentalist the paper filters probably aren’t going to help you to save the planet. If you’re worried about the effect of waste and ultimately the environment, then I would definitely recommend permanent coffee filters as a better alternative – more on those below.

There are typically two types of paper coffee filters, those that are bleached and those that are unbleached. For many of you reading this the taste difference between the two is going to be unnoticeable, however, some coffee connoisseurs will quickly tell you that unbleached filters can destroy the taste of your coffee. To be honest, the slight difference is really not all that evident, and it really boils down to your personal taste on which coffee filters are best.

Permanent or Reusable Coffee Filters

Gold-tone coffee filter

One of my pet hates with paper filters is when you are trying to find replacements in your local store, getting the right size can be a pain in the ass challenge if you have a new coffee maker or if your regular brand of filters is sold out. With permanent coffee filters, you don’t have that problem because once you’ve purchased the permanent filter, you wash it and simply re-use it.

If you want to brew coffee the cheapest way while keeping the full flavor of the coffee, the one-time investment for a permanent coffee filter is worth the price, once you have it, you don’t have to worry about buying coffee filters in the foreseeable future.

Typically, a pack of paper coffee filters costs around 2 or 3 bucks, this doesn’t sound like much, but when you sit back and work out the costs over a year then the one-off cost of a permanent coffee filter seems like the far better option, right?

Permanent or reusable coffee filters come in various styles and types, the cheaper filters are typically made out of a nylon material. But gold-tone coffee filters (made out of gold) are becoming the latest must-have for coffee lovers. Let’s take a closer look at these gold coffee filters below.

Advantages of a Gold Coffee Filter?

Gold coffee filters are now a standard in the best coffee makers, and coffee lovers and some coffee blogs swear until they’re blue in the face that they give an improved taste to their coffee. I’m still on the fence, I have tried gold-tone coffee filters, and while they do seem to allow more sediment to flow through the filter basket along with more flavor oils, I don’t it’s barely noticeable when compared with the cheaper nylon variety. Have you tried the gold-tone? What are your thoughts? Leave me a comment below.

One of the main benefits of gold coffee filters that I cannot argue with is their longevity. For a one-time investment of around $30, you can buy a 24 karat gold plated coffee filter like this one that’s far more durable than the other types. To be honest, it should last you for many years without needing to be replaced, so it will actually pay for its self-overtime.

Are White or Brown Coffee Filters Better?

If you decide that paper coffee filters are your filter of choice, GREAT – but it can get even more confusing when you are faced with both white and brown coffee filters at your local store, which ones are better? And which ones should you buy?

Most of the cheap paper coffee filters are bleached using a chemical such as chlorine; I personally would stay clear of bleached white coffee filters if you value the taste of your coffee and even your health. However, if you can’t live without white paper filters try looking for some Melitta coffee filters as they are whitened using a natural oxygen process.

Brown paper coffee filters are the healthier option as they tend not to be processed using chemicals (just like brown bread and white bread) but always double-check the packet to be 100% sure. Want to know more check out this bleached vs. unbleached coffee filters article.

Which Is the Healthier Option? Paper or Permanent Filters

Ok so after a bit of research there does seem to be some health issues regarding paper and permanent coffee filters. The concern is regarding cholesterol; it appears that paper filters trap more oily substances in the coffee called diterpenes (1) whereas permanent filters allow more of these diterpenes to filter through.

When consumed these oily compounds essentially block cholesterol-regulating receptors in the intestines. The intestines can then no longer correctly regulate the amounts of cholesterol absorbed and excreted which can lead to elevated blood cholesterol levels. Since paper coffee filters trap most of these diterpenes, they can decrease the risk of coffee-related cholesterol increases in the body.

Now I don’t want to scare you, but as far as I’m concerned the risks are small (but I’m NO Doctor), and the pros outweigh the cons. I still prefer to use a permanent coffee filter over a paper one, and I don’t plan on changing back to paper anytime soon. What’s your favorite type of coffee filter?

(1) Science Direct.

Mark Morphew

Mark is the Editor-in-Chief at the popular coffee blog - Bean Ground. He's been active in the catering and hospitality industry for over 20 years. When he's not fiddling around with a new coffee gadget, you'll find him busy working on his other passion, web development. You can discover more about Mark here.

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