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Home|All About Brewing - Coffee Filters
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Coffee Filters

The type and brand of coffee filter that you use can easily be as important to the end taste of your coffee as the coffeemaker or water that is used. While your coffeemaker may dictate the shape of filter that you need to use, there usually remains many options that you need to choose from that can influence the flavor of your coffee. The following summarizes the types of filters that are available and the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Filters for Automatic and Manual Drip Coffeemakers

Most of the coffee consumed in the United States is produced via the drip method: hot water is poured over medium-grind coffee contained within a filter; the water steeps and drips through, yielding coffee. The only impediment to the water's passage is resistance from the ground coffee and the filter. The most common form of the drip method is auto-drip where water is heated in one chamber, piped over grounds contained in a filter, and the brewed coffee then drips down into a serving carafe.

Cone Versus Basket Shaped Filters

The shape of the filter that you need to use is dictated by the shape of the filter holder within your coffeemaker. There are two different shapes of holders/filters…Cone (round top gradually tapering down to the bottom) and Basket (circular holder/filter with a flat bottom).

In general, cone shaped holders with cone shaped filters are recommended as the design ensures optimal coffee saturation and extraction versus basket shaped holders/filters. Improved extraction results from the concentration of coffee on the bottom of the filter which then creates turbulence as the water hits the grounds thus creating saturation over the entire surface area of the ground coffee. Most higher-end coffeemakers are equipped with cone shaped filter holders.

Paper Versus Permanent Filters

Regardless of whether your coffeemaker requires a cone or a basket shaped filter, the next choice you need to make is whether to use paper filters or the permanent filters that come with a many coffeemakers. In general, to brew the most flavorful cup of coffee, it is highly recommended that paper filters be used.

Paper Filters

Paper filters are the most common and best way to brew coffee utilizing the drip method. Paper filters do the most thorough job in removing particulates and thus effectively trap bitter sediments for a smoother less bitter cup of coffee. In addition, paper filters allow you to use any type of grind while permanent filters require courser grinds. Finer grind coffees have a larger surface area exposed to the water so it provides a richer cup of coffee. Some permanent filters also transfer foreign taste and odor to your coffee. In addition to better flavor, other benefits of paper filters include:

Easy Clean-Up
Once used, paper filters are easily removed from the coffee maker and then disposed. Permanent filters must be thoroughly washed out after each use.

More Sanitary
Paper filters are used only once. Permanent filters are used repeatedly for years and often get quite grimy after repeated use.

Potentially Healthier
Scientific studies have indicated that paper coffee filters play a crucial role in eliminating the cholesterol raising factor of coffee. Permanent filters, on the other hand, allow the cholesterol raising oils to filter into the cup.

Environmentally Friendlier
Paper filters are 100% biodegradable while permanent filters are not.

It should be noted that not all paper filter performs the same. Avoid cheap filters! Cheaper paper filters can impact the taste of your coffee by either transferring foreign flavors and/or via over extraction or under extraction. Other disadvantages of cheap paper are they can easily result in a mess by either bursting or clogging.

If using a paper filter, we recommend Melitta Cone Coffee Filters which are the only filters that have patented flavor enhancing micro-perforations that provide the perfect extraction for a richer more flavorful coffee. All Melitta cone filters are also double crimped so they are guaranteed never to burst.

Type of Filter Paper

Typically, filter paper comes in either white or natural brown. Melitta also offers a paper filter made from bamboo, which is a naturally renewing resource.

White filters
All paper in its natural form is brown in color. In order to become white, it must be processed. Many cheaper filter papers are bleached with chlorine in order to achieve its white color. Melitta coffee filters are 100% Chorine Free, as they are whitened naturally using oxygen.

Natural Brown
Natural brown filters are not processed to achieve a whiter color. With premium filter paper, such as those by Melitta, there is no difference in taste from using white versus natural brown versus bamboo. The choice is only a matter of preference

Size of Filter Paper

The correct size of filter to use is dictated by the size of the filter holder within your coffeemaker.

Basket Filters
Typically, basket filters fit all six to twelve cup basket style coffeemakers. There are also "Junior" size baskets which are available for four to six cup coffeemakers.

Cone Filters
Cone filters come in sizes designated by a number. These numbers correspond to the following types of coffeemakers: #1 Size Filter: Fits 1 cup electric and non-electric cone coffeemakers
#2 Size Filter: Fits 4 to 6 cup electric and 2 cup non-electric cone coffeemakers
#4 Size Filter: Fits 8 to 12 cup electric cone coffeemakers
#6 Size Filter: Fits 10 cup non-electric cone coffeemakers

Alternative Uses for Coffee Filters

- Cover bowls or dishes when cooking in microwave.
- Clean windows and mirrors - Sparkling shine without the lint.
- Filter broken cork from wine by pouring the wine through a coffee filter to remove broken cork pieces.
- Recycle frying oil by straining oil through a sieve lined with a coffee filter.
- Weigh chopped foods. Place chopped ingredients in a coffee filter on a kitchen scale.
- Line a plant pot with a coffee filter to stop the soil from leaking out.
- Snack holder - Use to hold servings of popcorn, pretzels etc.