A German housewife going by the name of Melitta Bentz invented the first coffee filter. After much experimentation and being fed up with having to pull out stray coffee grounds from serving cups, she created something that would prove indispensable to the coffee-making process.
Filters are today an essential kit when brewing coffee. True, most of them are made of paper, small and the cost is minimal but without their humble presence, brewing your morning cup of Joe would be more time-consuming.
Today, the options before you are endless when it comes to making a quality cup of coffee. But the main question is: should you use a bleached or unbleached coffee filter? Are they any different?
Impact On Taste
Many coffee lovers are interested in knowing what processes will bring them closer to that perfect tasting brew. Most people tend to believe that using either an unbleached or bleached coffee filter will alter the taste of their coffee. This really isn’t the case. Regardless of the filter, if you have a quality coarse ground coffee, the taste will remain the same.
From what we have been able to find out, not much bleach is actually used during the manufacturing process of bleached coffee filters. That’s why there is no direct impact on taste or any negative health side effects.
Some people claim that unbleached filters affect the coffee by imparting a slight taste of paper. This, however, can be avoided by wetting the filter carefully before you brew the coffee.
Bleached filters, unfortunately, are not that good when it comes to their impact on the environment. First, their production entails the manufacturing process. Secondly, when discarded, they can pollute the environment even though they only contain a minimal amount of bleach. During the bleaching process, the agent used is either oxygen or chlorine. Oxygen is more preferable for it’s a more natural approach.
While unbleached filters don’t necessarily brew a better-tasting cup of Joe, they are friendlier to the environment. They are, for one, less processed compared to bleached filters, as is evident from their brown color. Being less processed, they obviously present a better environmental health option.
Filter Quality Matters
Bleached and unbleached coffee filters generally have minimal effect on how your coffee will taste. What can potentially impact the taste is the filter’s overall quality. When buying a coffee filter, avoid all efforts at saving a few cents as that could make all the difference. A cheaper bleached filter could add just as much of a papery flavor to your cup of Joe, if not more, just as would a high-quality unbleached coffee filter.
Coffee Filters Verdict
In the bleached or unbleached coffee filters debate, it basically comes down to personal taste, preferences, or the environmental impact. When deciding to buy either unbleached or bleached coffee filters, follow your gut. Both are capable of producing a tasty cup of Joe. But remember the quality matters and no matter the choice made, always buy high-quality coffee filters. This is what will ultimately affect how your coffee will taste.
Anthony is a professional barista in the city of Chicago. He has written for many online publications on various topics related to coffee.
Are Bunn coffee filters bleached?
Official, flat-bottomed Bunn coffee filters are bleached white using a chlorine-free bleaching method. While that’s not as good as unbleached filters, it does mean your coffee is free of toxic dioxin.
Are unbleached coffee filters compostable?
Yes, unbleached paper coffee filters are easily compostable with your spent coffee grinds in your home compost heap. In fact, many unbleached coffee filters are labeled as biodegradable and good for the environment.
Do Coffee filters make a difference?
Yes, the type of coffee filter you use does make a difference. Deciding between metal filters and paper filters determines cost (single use paper filters add up over the years) and the thickness of your coffee, as paper filters out far more fine coffee grains compared to metal. You also have a choice between bleached and unbleached filters, which makes a difference in the environmental impact and the chemicals that end up in your cup.
Can I use paper towel as a coffee filter?
Yes, you certainly can fold up a paper towel and use it as an impromptu coffee filter if you’re suddenly caught without one. Choose the paper towel you use carefully, as some are more heavily bleached with chemicals to make them better for their actual purpose – soaking and cleaning up spills.
Are bleached coffee filters bad for you?
Bleached coffee filters are safe to use, whether the chlorine or oxygen method is used to bleach them. Such a small amount of bleach is used to whiten the filters that only a trace of toxic dioxin makes it into your cup. It’s easy to find unbleached or metal coffee filters if you want to avoid the chemicals all-together.