Paper, Cloth or Metal?
We compared filters made of three different materials trying to understand their pros and cons and which to use when?
That’s the first question that you need to ask yourself. There is a clear incentive to switch to a re-usable, you save on cost (in the long run) and it’s kinder to the environment. The obvious downside is the additional steps required to clean the filters after each use and periodic maintenance.
Metal filters get clogged over-time and are relatively harder to clean after every use.
Cloth filters will require you to store them in water, give them a deep clean after every 15-20 uses and can potentially spoil if you accidently let them dry out too many times.
So ask yourself, does it suit your style (life-style, or more specifically coffee-style?).
All this is even before we talk about the most important thing,
Below is a quick summary of our test of a metal and a cloth filter, using a paper filter as a baseline:
We brewed our Ethiopian Yirgacheffe Beans with the exact same brew ratio, grind and pouring technique:
The results are pretty self explanatory, the metal filters are obviously not as fine as paper or cloth and will let more ‘Solids’ pass through, this would mean a heavier body and a relatively higher bitterness (So if heavy bodied robust brews are your thing, you’d prefer this over paper hands down).
The difference of aromas between paper and metal is down to the lack of absorption of natural coffee oils, oils contribute hugely to the coffee aromas and to a small extent the texture & mouth feel.
Paper and cloth tend to absorb more of the coffee oils, metal doesn’t absorb any at all.
This contributes to a different aroma and mouth-feel.
In our brews, paper and cloth filters are closely matched and 9 out of 10 times you may not even notice the differences. We repeated our tests with at least 3 different coffees with varying roast profiles & flavor notes, the paper and cloth filters were very closely matched.
* Re-use of paper filters is another topic we would love to elaborate in another blog.
If you are in the market for re-usable filters, value the flavor profile you get out of paper but don’t mind the extra steps required to clean, go for a cloth filter. You could check out WOBH Filters for some high quality re-usable cloth filters.
Metal filters will give you a slightly heavier body and comparatively less clear brew. So the choice is yours!
We do recommend that you taste and try out different filters as coffee is highly subjective to taste.
We loved doing this comparison and we hope you learned something out of it too.
A special thanks to Wobh for sending us the cloth filters used in the test!
Happy Brewing :)