All Coffee Filters Are Not Created Equal

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You head to the kitchen, grab the coffee filters and canister of coffee, and whip up your morning brew. Ahhhh! Your eyes open, your blood quickens, you are ready to face your day! Though you probably get the same results from this routine every day, you can actually improve the taste of your morning brew simply by considering a different sort of filter. You can start with White paper, brown paper, cloth, gold fiber, stainless steel, plastic… and the list goes on. Yikes! You say. You had no idea there were that many choices for a simple coffee filter. Believe it or not, there are more, but we chose only the most popular, simple and easy to find varieties for this article. Let’s start with the plain old disposable paper filters. There are two varieties. White filters and brown filters. They have the same straining style and are the most widely available. The main difference is whether you want them “au natural” or bleached, whitened or “oxygenated” to make them pristinely unblemished. All white coffee filters have been chemically processed. Think about it. “Paper is to not white, as cheese is to not orange.” Regardless of how you feel about chemical processing, white filters will change the flavor or your coffee depending on the types of chemicals, degree of saturation and method of brewing. No bleaching for you, you say? No problem. Many consumers are turning to all-natural paper filters which may, or may not, be chemical free. Keep in mind that not all brown filters are created equally. Read the packaging to be sure the filters are untreated and don’t assume color alone means they are process free. If the filter is untreated, it will not alter the flavor of your coffee and you will get a better flavor. The upside to paper filters is that they are fast, easy, inexpensive and perfect for almost every coffee maker. Just fill the paper filter with coffee, place it into the basket, add water and…poof…coffee. Drop the used filter into the trash and it will biodegrade. A growing “green” solution is cloth filters. These handy little guys are washable, reusable, moderately inexpensive and relatively free of chemicals depending upon your washing habits. They are generally made from muslin or cotton and are adaptable to many types of brewers. Just pop them into the basket, brew your pot and rinse them for the next use. The downside is you have to be sure to check the size and cut before you purchase so that the cloth fits your machine. Stepping up to a change in flavor is to invest in the gold filter. This type is a gold metal fiber mesh filter that you just rinse and reuse. They are durable, moderately priced, easily cleaned and maintained and widely available for most coffee makers. If you are going to use this type of filter, plan on buying filtered or distilled water as tap water will quickly change the results. Over time, the flavor of your coffee can suffer as it takes on the mineral and elements of your tap water. These filters are generally great for several years before requiring replacement. Finally, if you want to go for the top of this group, there is the stainless filter. This is a permanent filter combining gold and stainless steel designed to last as long as your coffee cravings. These require no paper filters and are simply emptied into the trash or compost pile and then rinsed with water to use again. These gems are fairly impervious to most tap water changes but that always depends upon your particular water sources and filtering systems. The down side with these filters is that they are generally made for specific types of pots and they can be a little pricey depending on your system. The perfect cup of coffee is in the palate of the beholder. For most coffee drinkers, plain paper filters are suitable for everyday, off to work brewing. However, if you are like me, and you experiment with different strengths, blends and grinds of coffee, you will want to try different filters to find what works for you and your particular coffee style and taste.

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