Personally, I did not consider any of this the day I ran out of coffee filters and constructed one out of a paper towel. Of this, I am not proud. One of the things Iíve learned in my research is that coffee filters are not a simple matter. There are so many conversations about sustainability and health that the choice of what type of filter to use is not always clear cut.
According to the Melitta Company, it was Melitta Bentz who invented the first paper coffee filter in 1908. To this very day, paper filters are the most widely used filters. Paper filters are very convenient. No washing is needed and you just toss them after use. However, if you notice, the paper filter is generally very white. This is not the natural color of paper. It gets this way through a process of bleaching. Bleaching is fine for typing paper, but there are people who feel that the whitening process of filters leads to a constant exposure to chlorine for coffee drinkers. Many filters are bleached with oxygen instead of the chlorine. There are also unbleached filters available and will look brown in color. Another much discussed issue with the paper filters is the claim that the paper absorbs the natural oils of the coffee and thereby gives you a weakened version of what your coffee could be.
Another interesting alternative to paper filters is cloth. They come in textiles such as hemp or muslin. This seems like a great alternative when you are trying to live green but the drawbacks are washing this filter after each use, the build-up of oils and residue in the filter and the possibility of the filter altering the flavor of your coffee and well as fibers breaking away and ending up in your cup.
Metal filters seem like the end all be all. They come in stainless steel, gold tone and 23-karat gold. It is said that these metals will not cause a chemical reaction which would add metallic after taste. The only conís that Iíve heard are possibly fine grounds sneaking through the mesh.
When in doubt, itís a great time to try a French Press and see if this is for you. The French Press is its own little mini-system of coffee brewing and for some people, itís the only way. There are no worries about separate filter systems and the coffee is to die for.
So, as you can see, choosing the best filter for you will be based on whatever your personal concerns and preferences are, whether they be sustainability, good health or convenience, itís all up to you.