Welcome to the Redber Guide to Coffee Filter Papers! In this guide we will take you through the history of coffee filter papers, the different types of coffee filter papers and the correct method to use coffee filter papers!
Coffee, one of the most traded commodities, has wide range of flavours all influenced by different regions, roast, processing, grinding and even brewing.
Even with hundreds of years of history behind coffee, we are still inventing new ways in which to brew it and every year new brewing types and techniques are being created. One of my favourite new inventions came in 1999 when we saw the Presso (now called ROK) created being one of the first non-electric espresso makers to create 9bar pressure for a perfect extraction.
However, one of the longest standing brewing methods which is still one of the most popular ways of home brewing as well as commercial brewing, and this is the simple method of filter coffee using a coffee paper filters.
When it comes to buying coffee paper filters the choice of different shapes, sizes and materials can leave us confused and frustrated. Whether you need bleached or unbleached, flat bottomed or v-shaped, this guide will help you to find the right one for you.
History of coffee paper filters and the dripper
The traditional method of filtering coffee through a dripper came about over a hundred years ago in 1908 from a housewife in Germany. Her name was Melitta Bentz. The common brewing method of her time was to wrap loose coffee grounds in a cloth and boil them in water. This method produced an over-brewed, bitter cup of coffee, leaving a great amount of residual grounds in the bottom of the cup making it unpleasant to drink.
Tired of this bad brewing method, Bentz decided to try something new, so she punched holes into the bottom of a brass cup and fitted a piece of blotting paper from her son’s school notebook inside. She took her fresh ground coffee and placed it in the paper, filling the cup and covering the grounds with hot water, and letting it drip through the holes into another cup below. It is during this moment of curiosity that Bentz would find she had made a sweet and clean cup of coffee. She began commercial manufacture of her dripper in 1908 and her first employee was her husband. However, in 1914 manufacture had to be put on hold due to metal being requisitioned for weapons during the war and paper was rationed.
After the war had ended Melitta could reopen her small factory. But this factory did not stay small for long. By the mid 1920’s she had over 80 employees and this included her two children, Horst and Willy. Horst & Willy took over the running of the company in 1930 when Melitta decided to retire. Even in retirement though, she always kept an eye on the business and even brought in new employee benefits ensuring all staff were given Christmas bonuses and she even increased yearly holiday allowance from 6 days to 15.
In 1954 coffee was once again revolutionised in Germany. Gottlob Widdman introduced and patented his ‘WigoMat’ instant coffee dripper and this was the birth of the filter machine. The WigoMat was so popular since it was the first coffee brewing method that introduced the idea that water temperature used for brewing should not be boiling and it dramatically improved on the previous taste. In years to follow the Wigomat’s competition increased yet it remained the most popular instant drippers for over 20 years.
Not only has the dripper been reinvented through time but we have also seen coffee paper filters go through many changes. Melitta has always been at the forefront of filter paper innovations. In 1989 Melitta was the first company to introduce unbleached filters papers made from unchlorinated pulp. In 1999 they introduced micro fine perforations on the filters papers to prevent sediment and unwanted oils from entering the cup. And to keep up with their sustainability responsibilities they introduced their Bamboo filters in 2007.
Bleached vs Unbleached
‘Which filter papers are better, bleached or unbleached?’ this is a question we get from our customers on regular basis. However, the answer is not simple, and it really depends on the result you are looking for from your cup.
As all paper starts-off as brown, it must undergo a bleaching process to whiten it. There are two main methods for bleaching paper, one using Chlorine gas the other Oxygen bleaching. Historically the chlorine gas process has been a health concern, but it is now widely accepted that in such low quantities than that used, it causes no harm and very little traces of chlorine are left in the paper. Chlorine gas is used mainly in the cheaper coffee filters. If you are still concerned, you can watch out for filters that are marked with “TCF” (Total Chlorine Free) on the packaging, which means that the paper has been bleached 100% without chlorine. All filter papers on our website are Chlorine Free!
The second process is known as oxygen cleansing and this process is chemical free and considered to be better for the environment.
The Pros and Cons of Bleached Filter Coffee Paper:
- Typically cleaner taste
- Less unwanted ‘papery’ taste
- Worse for the environment due to chemical use and extra processing.
Unbleached filter papers are undeniably a slightly more sustainable option than that of bleached with less processing at paper mills and being chemical free. You will, however, get a slightly papery taste from unbleached papers. Another downside of the unbleached papers is that there is sometimes some wood fiber left in the filters, which may cause blockage in the pores and uneven extraction. Hence it is vital to wet the unbleached paper before brewing.
The Pros and Cons of Unbleached Filter Coffee Paper:
- More sustainable
- More natural look
- Coffee can be given a papery taste.
- Wood fibres can cause uneven extraction.
To decide which paper filters you would use it is a matter of weighing the above pros and cons and deciding for yourself what aspects relate to your requirements.
Did you know?
Paper filters - brown or white (not chlorine bleached), can be thrown into your compost heap or brown caddy along with the coffee grinds. But make sure you tear the coffee filter paper into smaller pieces, so it decomposed faster.
Paper Coffee Filter Paper Size and Shape
It is far more important to choose the right sized filter paper for your brewing equipment than the colour of the filter paper. The filter paper sizes:
- 1 Cup / 1k - These are mainly used in one cup drippers such as Hario V60 01
- 2 Cup / 2k / 1x2 - Used for two cup drippers e.g. Hario V60 02
- 4 Cup / 4k / 1x4 - The best selling coffee filters, used in most domestic filter coffee machines
- 6 Cup and higher - Mainly used for catering and office filter coffee machines
Most domestic filter coffee machines take 4 cup filter papers. The shape of the filter you need to get depends on your filter coffee machine. If you have not invested in the filer coffee machine yet, it is worth looking at the machines that take conical filter papers as they are considered better than the basket filters.
Basket Coffee Paper Filters
The basket filters are typically used in commercial coffee machines as they can hold larger volume of coffee grinds. The basket filters have a round flat bottom. When the water flows through the grinds, it does not flow evenly making less tasty coffee.
The V-shaped filters are used mainly for Hario Coffee Drippers, or Chemex when folded. The conical shape of filter paper enables the water to flow more evenly through the ground coffee making a better brew. The conical filters come in either v-shape or flat bottomed.
Flat Bottom Coffee Paper Filters
These are used for Coffee Filter Machines including Melitta, Moccamaster, Bravilor but also in Clever Drippers.
Disc Paper Filters
These are used in Aeropress. The shape of this filter is not so essential to the brew since the Aeropress combines almost all the brew methods into one to make for a great coffee.
Paper Coffee Filters vs Metal Coffee Filters
Metal Coffee Filters are usually made of stainless steel or aluminium. The advantages of using metal filters are the durability, overall cost in the long run and no wastage.
There are also few disadvantages. The main disadvantage of using metal filter is that it may transfer some unfavourable taste and aroma to the coffee. Secondly, the metal filters are not fine enough to catch all coffee particles, causing the body of your coffee to be heavier than you would have with paper filter. Lastly, they are not as easy to clean, and are not dishwasher safe.
Our top 5 coffee filters
The Melitta Coffee Coach coffee filters are the latest addition to Melitta filter range. The filters feature cleverly embossed markings on the inside of the coffee filter which serve as a guide so you can ensure you are always using the perfect amount of ground coffee, ensuring no more waste or weak coffee.
A great alternative to the paper filter. The Swissgold filter has 23 carat solid gold plating is inert so prevents any tainting of the taste of the coffee.
Melitta Groumet Intense coffee filters have three Aroma Zones to the popular aroma pores. Each aroma zone has a different number of aroma pores, resulting in the coffee passing through each Aroma Zone at a different speed during the filter brewing process. The aroma thus unfolds, is refined, and is then finally rounded off to a perfect finish.
The Filtropa filters are high quality filters manufactured from specially compound paper, completely free of taste and smell. Filtropa filters are bonded without the use of any glues or chemicals so they are 100% natural and the paper stock is certified dioxin-free. Filtropa uses an oxygen-based whitening process which produces a totally chlorine free bleached filter.
The Chemex filters are thicker 20-30%, making the filters sturdy and in the same time keeping coffee oil and grinds in their place. They also fit most cone shaped coffee filters.
How to brew with a dripper? What ratios to use?
For ratios of coffee to water, it is a good rule of thumb to use 60gms of coffee to 1000ml of water. I do however, like playing with my ratios (only slightly) depending on which coffee I am using.
In case you are new to using a dripper here are some simple steps you can follow to achieve a great brew!
Directions (Melitta Filtercone 1x4):
Place the filtercone over cup with filter paper inserted
- Pour boiled water over filter paper to wash paper and then remove excess water from cup this step also warms your cup so you don’t lose temperature from a cold cup!)
- Grind 18gms of your favourite coffee and place into filter paper
- Boil water to 92c (if kettle does not have temperature control, leave for 1 minute after boil)
- Pour 100ml water in a circular motion, ensuring all grinds are wet, and leave for 1 minute to bloom
- After a probably long minute has passed pour in the remaining 200ml
Best coffee regions and taste profiles for filter?
Although every person is entitled to their own taste preferences, I have always found that certain coffees are better suited to filter brews. I aim to stay away from darker roasts (Italian, French, Vienna) since the heavy, smokey, more roasty flavours of the coffees seem to be emphasized through a dripper. In general, I prefer to really taste the origin flavours of a coffee and the filter process allows you to do just that. It does not only emphasize offensive flavours from the coffee but also brings out sweetness and body. Typically, I prefer to use well balanced, sweet coffees and even slightly more acidic coffees. You will find these characteristics in most African coffees which usually lean towards the brighter side of coffee. And even Central and Latin American coffees due to the sweetness and body they bring to the table.
Our top 5 filter coffees:
Fresh clean well balanced and uniformed with sweetness of delicate honey, apple/pear, citric lime/grape hints of black pepper and cinnamon, liquorice/aniseed, refreshing after taste of blackberry fruits.
White grape, lime, coconut, nectarine, floral. Good body and intensity.
Perfectly balanced with sweet caramel and exotic fruit. It finishes with a subtle citrus like acidity and a hint of hazelnut. The aroma of the coffee is sweet and the body smooth. It makes for a really pleasant drink however it is brewed.
Sweet microlot coffee from Brazil Minas Gerais with a pronounced flavour of tropical fruit & caramel, creamy smooth body and lingering aftertaste.
A sweet coffee with flavours of mixed berries and chocolate. with a lovely round body, balanced acidity and rich sweet lingering finish.
Our top 5 recommended filter coffee machines
1. Melitta Epos (£289.99 - £299.99)
The Epos has to take number one spot for me. This in essence, is a pour over machine rather than a filter machine. But that’s what makes this such an interesting piece of home equipment. With one of the most stylish designs Melitta has ever produced and it comes in two colour option (black and gold or silver). In regards to actual brewing this machine only gains points. You have full control of the brew and can set the strength, cup size and grind setting (yes it has a built in grinder!). And when the filter cone is in place and you start brewing, the water dispense arm rotates back and forth in a circular motion, dispensing out of three outlets to ensure you evenly wet all the grinds and get a perfect extraction. If you are looking for a high end, kitchen talking piece to get your morning brew right every time then the Epos is for you!
10/10 Design 10/10 Brew 5/10 Price
2. Moccamaster KBG Select (£199.99)
The Moccamaster KBG Select has been one of the top filter brewers for decades and this is taking number two for me. Carrying the Speciality coffee association seals of approval it definitely lives up to the brew that is promised. Dispensing at an optimum brew temperature and even the hot plate is set to maintain this temperature. A very stylish piece and will fit in any environment due to the wide range of colour options available. And with the latest Select model you can now brew a half pot so you waste less coffee when brewing at home. With its slick, traditional design, this can be a focal point of any kitchen or office environment.
8/10 Design 10/10 Brew 7/10 Price
3. Melitta Aroma Fresh Grind & Brew (125.00)
The Melitta grinder brew may not be winning any style awards however, it can definitely take them home for convenience and brew. With an adjustable grinder that can be tuned for taste and programmable grind amount for strength you can really find your personalised perfect brew with this machine. It also has a timer feature that can be set for an automatic brew time and also set the time in which the hot plate stays on for. With this filter machine you can literally wake up and smell the coffee!
6/10 Design 9/10 Brew 8/10 Price
4. Bravilor Junior (196.00)
For a first take on a domestic machine, Bravilor really nailed this one! Years of experience in the commercial market has led to a home use filter machine, with great brew technology and sleek design. Another Speciality coffee association approved filter machine that allows for a slowed down brew time, even dispense of water from the brew head and ideal brewing temperature all resulting in a fantastic brew every time! It is also very easy on the eyes with a brushed stainless steel body and slim shape allowing it to fit into those tight spaces.
8/10 Design 10/10 Brew 5/10 Price
5. Melitta Aromaboy (£30.99)
Now this little machine has made it in my top five for exactly that reason, it is so little! It may not have any game changing technology, any exciting brewing tricks or even have a look worth noting, but the reason this is one of personal favourites is that it is such a personal machine. Having to get up every few hours to get your coffee is a thing of the past since this little guy will unnoticeably sit on your desk. It is no bigger than my outstretched hand and can fit anywhere without being an inconvenience. I honestly believe that every person should have a Melitta Aroma boy on their work desk and at such a low cost this is a possible dream!
4/10 Design 5/10 Brew 10/10 Price
Although this complete guide seems like an overwhelming amount of information to take in, there are some simple takeaways from it all. Bleached or Unbleached filter papers will not ruin your coffee if you choose the wrong one, but do think first what aspects of each interest you most before buying. And metal filters will never compete with paper filters for taste but do have the benefit of long term cost savings, as well as being a more sustainable option. And finally, and this can never be stressed enough, the most important aspect of your coffee will always be just that, the coffee! Discover the wide range of Redber coffees and find the origin that suits your filter brew best!