White, brown, or gold? When you’re using a drip coffee machine you have some choice when it comes to coffee filters. Our coffee expert breaks down what really matters when it comes to coffee filters.
While there are a plethora of enhancements and innovations available to coffee drinkers today, the truth is that traditional drip coffee makers are still widely popular. They’re easy to use, economical and able to produce large batches of coffee with minimal effort. On the flipside, drip coffee makers offer little variety and flexibility. Be that as it may, people who use this kind of coffee maker do have one very customizable option: the way they filter.
Coffee filters can be found in just about any grocery store, in various sizes to fit larger and smaller machines. But did you know there are significant differences between white and brown filters? And were you aware that something called a gold-tone filter may be a good fit for your machine?
If this is news to you, don’t worry. Allow me to explain the nuances of coffee filters.
White vs. Brown Coffee Filters
Paper coffee filters are considered to be the most popular option on the market. They can be bought in bulk with each filter costing only a few cents and can process fine to coarse grounds. To use one, all you have to do is place the filter in the brew basket, pour in your grounds and turn your coffee maker on. When it’s done, just take the filter, grounds and all, out and dispose of the whole bundle.
When it comes to white paper coffee filters versus brown, most people agree that there is little difference in taste. The distinction appears when you look at what makes up each filter. Brown filters are “unbleached” and often made from recycled paper. White filters are treated to make them look, well, white. That’s right—those bright spanking white filters are only different in that they have been bleached to look that way.
Many coffee drinkers are concerned that the bleaching process introduces unnecessary chemicals into their coffee. Some filters are bleached by chlorine and may contain organically made toxins. Others are oxygen-bleached and chemical-free. If having pristine coffee filters matters to you, look for the white ones. Otherwise, just stick with the natural brown.
Disposable vs. Reusable Coffee Filters
Now that you know about the two types of paper filters, let’s examine a reusable option: the gold-tone filter. This fine mesh cone filter fits right into your brew basket and takes medium coffee grounds. These are often called “permanent” filters since they can be reused so many times.
Compared to paper filters, gold-tone filters are somewhat more expensive. Depending on where you buy, a single basket can cost you up to $15—but remember, it’s essentially a one-time cost. Depending on how heavily you use the filter and how well you care for it, you shouldn’t have to replace it for a few years. How is it so cheap? The filter isn’t actually made of gold, but it’s usually made of stainless steel and enhanced with gold plating.
To clean a gold-tone filter, all you have to do is remove it, dump the loose contents in the trash and rinse to make sure there are no particles left. This is generally easy, but you want to make sure you get everything out from the crevices to make sure it’s cleaned properly. Since you’re reusing the same filter over and over, you’ll also be making a green choice. But don’t knock paper filters just yet: both white and brown varieties can be composted along with the used coffee grounds, if you like.
The final difference between reusable and disposable coffee filters comes in the taste categories. Aficionados insist that the strength and boldness of paper-filtered coffee is diminished compared to gold-tone coffee, possibly because the paper soaks up some of the coffee’s oils. This difference may not be noticeable to casual drinkers, however.
Personally, I use my gold-tone filter unless I happen to get a fine-ground coffee. I prefer the green aspect, since I don’t compost, and I find it easy to clean up. How do you filter your coffee?
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