Paper vs. metal coffee filters. Which is best?

by Barb

Using a paper coffee filter.

Using a paper coffee filter.


Which is the best type of coffee filter to use? Is it the disposable paper filter or the permanent metal filter? I want to use the one that gets those rich 'bubbles' on the top of my coffee mug! (don't I?)


Whether you use a paper filter or a metal filter won't make much difference to your coffee, or your bubbles.

However, there are some aesthetic and environmental advantages to using a metal filter, and some health reasons for using paper filters.

Using paper filters is messy. And you have to keep buying them and throwing them away. And you may wonder exactly what chemical residues are lurking in that paper as a by-product of the paper-making process.

But if you use a gold-tone metal filter basket (not as expensive as it sounds), then you never have to buy or replace all those paper filters.

That said, there are health reasons to use paper filters, because of the cafestol in coffee.

Cafestol is found in the oily fraction of coffee, and is a potent stimulator of LDL cholesterol levels.

What does this mean to you as a coffee drinker? Well, if you have concerns about your cholesterol levels, you should certainly pay some attention to this and may decide to use paper filters. Why? Because the cafestol is almost entirely absorbed by the paper, and doesn't make it as far as your coffee cup. But with a gold filter, the cafestol drips right through.

So, for aesthetics choose the gold filter, and for your health choose the paper.

Comments for Paper vs. metal coffee filters. Which is best?

Click here to add your own comments

Mar 19, 2015
bitter coffee
by: Anonymous

Try adding less than a pinch of salt.

Feb 01, 2015
I use both at the same time
by: David C

I use both, I put the Metal filter with coffee in it inside the paper one. Works the best. Real trick is (and I was surprised many didn't know this) is you should run water through the paper filter before you use it to remove any paper bulk and chemical.

I have used to have the troubles of cold and bitter coffee when using a French Press just so I could get 1 maybe 2 good coffees out it. I have since switched to a Chemex and have never had to deal with the French press again. Makes the smoothest coffee ever.

Dec 29, 2014
re comment below
by: Anonymous

yes, grinding coarser will be less bitter, lighter vs. darker blends are less bitter, and i have found the paper filters do (as this wonderful thread stated) reduce bitterness!

Dec 28, 2014
by: Anonymous

Lots of comments refer to different causes of bitterness. I personally had a terrible time making good coffee,,,,I used to grind my beans really really fine for drip coffee, because I thought you could use less to make more coffee. I recently read that if you grind beans too fine, you get bitter coffee. So I tried grinding to only a coarse grind..and voila!! Beautiful, smooth coffee without bitterness!!
I have been using a gold filter, and noticed the sediment in the cup. Next test will be with a paper filter to see if the coffee is still smooth.
I also wanted to mention, to those who recommend using both the gold and paper filters together when brewing, don't. It can cause your coffeemaker to overflow.

Nov 13, 2014
long winding road
by: johnnyjohnny

i won't go into it but i've tried everything. i have allegro whole bean organic, really the best coffee on the planet...i used the aero press with a metal filter and had great coffee until i realized i was using plastic (bpa free plastic still has estrogenic leeching chemicals) goodbye the aero press.

back to the french press and bitterness. this article has cleared up why that might have been, oils that are not removed by paper filters.

anyway, after too much bitterness from good expensive coffee, i tried a non-bleached paper filter for the first time in years and found the smoothness i love in coffee again. i'm all for what works and the unbleached paper seems to.

how do i make coffee? 5min in a french press and then i had been sending it through a fine strainer. yesterday i put a large melitta unbleached cone filter in the strainer and even though this was after the 5 min already in the fr press, and with another 5 min of seeping through the added paper filter, the coffee was smoother, if a tad stronger for all the time in contact with beans.

so, for what it's worth, that's what i did and what i found after doing it. from now on i will put a paper filter in my metal strainer and pour the water and grounds from my fr press into it, and wait for it to run through...and will knock down my fr press brewing time to accommodate for the slower pass through of the paper filter...maybe 3 min in the fr press. damn good coffee with the filters.

Dec 07, 2013
Save water
by: Anonymous

Having lived on boats over twenty years I am alert to water conservation, even though I now have a reverse osmosis system to convert seawater. Paper filters are efficient and the ones I use are either brown or oxygen process bleached which does not leave bleaching chemicals. I do not stir, but pour slowly around the sides after wetting the grounds as the soup decends the cone. I use a rotary blade coffee grinder to very fine which slows the filtration. As with many essential oil extractions, the heaviest or thickest are undesired and bitter. I remove the filter assembly from over the cup before the last half inch of liquid at the bottom decants and have a less bitter cup.

Oct 14, 2013
by: mh

I worry about all the chemical processing involved with paper production. Do they use recycled materials? I switched to the gold filters 20 years ago. A little settled material in the cup is no problem, just give cup a swirl and finish it off. As for flavor the brewing temp and grind size have more to do than filter type.

Sep 10, 2013
by: Mike

Cafestol has also shown anticarcinogenic properties. Cafestol has also been implicated in inhibiting the progress of Parkinson's disease.

Ho Hum.

May 22, 2013
Gold and paper together
by: Anonymous

I use both at the same time sometimes..Paper inside of gold.

Feb 12, 2013
by: Elle

Buy a mini-canister garbage can & make a compost heap surround or buy a tumbler to recycle your coffee, paper filters, & produce cuttings/refuse!

Feb 03, 2013
don't be rude...
by: butterfly

some people would actually like to do their part for the environment and especially for their health.

thanks everyone else for nice and useful comments.

Oct 25, 2012
pouring already-made coffee through paper filter
by: Anonymous

I've just come across this site, since I've been told to reduce my cholesterol. My question--I love my morning coffees made in a small bialetti stove top espresso maker--can I continue to make this way, then pour through a paper filter to remove what's causing the added cholesterol?? Thanks.

Editor's Note: Yes, if you pour it through a paper filter after brewing, that will work.

Oct 02, 2012
yes, paper filters...
by: Anonymous

Over the years I've tried the metal filter and now I'm back to using natural, unbleached, paper filters. I like the taste of the coffee better and if it aids my LDL levels, better still.
I have read a fair amount about coffee health issues and have decided after drinking decaf, good quality decaf, for years I'm back to drinking excellent quality organic coffee. I am so much happier since I switched back to regular coffee. Coffee has been proven to help with depression issues in women. Yea!!!

Sep 15, 2012
What in the world?!?!
by: Steve W

What in the world did this conversation become? Got here by googling paperless filter coffee sediment and it looks like I wandered into a ridicules parallel universe where we're discussing the impact of a little coffee filter on the environment, and the healthiness of coffee. Come on! Unless your walking or riding your bike to the store, wheres the environmental impact of your coffee filters at compared to your cars carbon footprint. But I'm no tree hugger and consider a lot of this talk an exploded egotism. God created this planet in such a way that your coffee filter and the fuel you use to get it isn't going to effect his creation. And the cholesterol thing…who the heck drinks coffee for their health? I know the stuff isn't healthy, it shortens my life, but I've never met a happy vegan, so I'd rather ENJOY my short life than be, and make those around me miserable for a full century.

Oh, as to the subject. The sediment of paperless in my new brewer is ticking me off, the taste isn't quite the same, but I enjoy the less expense. Think I'll stay paperless and buy me a flavorful ribeye and enjoy flavor, elevated cholesterol AND joyful short life…

Jul 23, 2012
No worries
by: Anonymous

My 92 year old Colombian grandpa has 325 cholesterol count, drinks religiously 3 espresso shots in the company of his other high cholesterol ridden friends, and still walks ½ a mile to his favorite cafeteria to play checkers 5 times a week. This begs the question regarding the relationship between the danger of cholesterol levels and any foods that contribute to their increase. Maybe just some of us, in the northern hemisphere in particular, are more prone to kick the bucket at this, so called, elevated cholesterol levels. Or not. Either way, if you’re going to drink a cup of coffee with all these worries behind, I think the danger is in the stress produced by the concern and not whatever the coffee or filters might contain. Just set back, enjoy any type of filter/coffee mix and live today as if it was your last. I promise you, if you do this, you’ll live past 90 with an excellent quality of life. Gulp.

Dec 08, 2011
Use both!
by: Anonymous

Through a metal filter, then into a paper filter and re-use the paper filter many times.

Nov 27, 2011
Cholesterol, Bring it on!!
by: einzigal

I know this started out all about coffee filters, but the rampant misconception surrounding cholesterol as being detrimental to health is an unfortunate myth...that's right, a myth! Please do not give into the fear mongering led by Big Pharma to make you believe otherwise...

Want proof? Take 1:29:57 5 hours and become enlightened.

Nov 19, 2011
by: Penny

I prefer paper filters. I had a Melitta coffee maker that didn't use filters and I liked it but after a few years the lid broke so I bought a Cuisinart. I am using the paper filters and the coffee tastes great! I don't like the idea of having sediment in my coffee and I don't need to raise my cholesterol, so the gold filter basket is going in the closet.

Jul 24, 2011
by: Anonymous

I just wanted to add that as a nutritionist I know that the caffeine raises cholesterol. The natural oils in coffee will only slow down the effect of the caffeine. Try reading the book: Caffeine Blues by Stephen Cherniske. Just the intro will give you a lot to think about. When I went to decaf (brewed with a metal filter BTW, my cholesterol dropped 30 points!

Just something to think about:-)

Mar 16, 2011
paper filters reduce cholesterol
by: Anonymous

according to dr. oz and science daily.

Mar 11, 2011
Paper is better
by: Anonymous

I have tried metal filters and unfortunately the commercial blends of coffee are simply ground too fine to not create a lot of sediment in the bottom of the decanter. It looks bad and I do not think it adds to the flavor. On a side note a metal filter allows more oils to go into the pot. Problem is those oils have been show to raise some peoples cholesterol. I am going back to paper but will use not bleached ones.

Dec 05, 2010
paper vs metal filter
by: Anonymous

I bought the Technivorm coffee maker and previously had a drip Cuisinart with metal filter. The Technivorm from what i read and was told was a much better coffee maker. i bought two weeks ago and have been using it with paper filters that it came with. For some reason the coffee just did not taste right? It did not make sense that my $60 Cuisinart would make better coffee than the Technivorm. The coffee through the Technivorm had a bitter almost sour-like taste and i have been using high end coffee from Terroir (George Howell). This morning, after reading some negative comments on the Net regarding use of paper filters, i put my old gold filter that i was previoysly using in the Cuisenart into the Technivorm and made a pot. I must say it was like night and day compared to using the paper filter. The bitterness/sourness was totally gone! The coffee had a very smooth rich flavor and the only difference was the filter that i was using. i believe that the paper filter must have some chemical component that it imparts on the coffee so i am switching to metal filter. The only issue that i did have was that the filter basket actually got clogged, most likely due to the fineness of the ground and the coffee got held up in the clog. i had to unclog it with a spoon but which fixed the problem, but there was some sediment in the coffee. i tried it again with a little courser grind and less coffee, but this time the coffee was a little thin, which is consistent with a comment that another reviewer had, but there was no bitterness. it seems like it will take some experimentation to get it right (full and smooth without sediment), but i must say anything is better than the bitterness i experienced with the paper filter. i am also going to try the natural paper filter to see if that is better. The paper filters that came with the coffee maker was stark white and clearly bleached. The point of my rant is that i just cannot see how people could state that the coffee is better with the paper filter at least in terms of flavor.

Nov 16, 2010
by: Anonymous

Yes I have noticed the sediment as well. It is the coffee oils collecting together. I also noticed that I was getting bouts of nausea in my stomach shortly after I drank the coffee. So we switched to the paper filter and it seems to have solved both problems.

Oct 05, 2010
by: Anonymous

I recently purchased a coffee make with a permanent filter. The coffee taste just fine but there is always sediment in the bottom of each cup I drink. Never has that with all the coffee makers before, they always used disposalble paper filters. I'm going to try a paper filter inside the permanent filter and see if that takes care of the problem. Has anyone else had this problem?

Aug 13, 2010
Paper filters only!
by: Space

I have a $3,500 espresso machine that until a month ago I could not do without. I have had it for maybe 4 years, and have consumed at least 3 espressos per day since. However, I have noticed that my cholesterol measurements have changed markedly since beginning this habbit. Immediately prior to starting the espresso habit, I had excellent levels (high HDLs and low LDLs), but now my LDLs are very high. My diet is excellent, weight is good, I consume barely any dietary cholesterol and exercise (cardio) at least 6h/wk. I have made the full switch to filtered coffee and will have my levels checked again in about 2 months. As everybody knows, elevated cholesterol can eventually kill, so if you are drinking espresso or using metal filters to filter your coffee, you are consuming terpenes, strong cholesterol elevating substances. I'd say that it is worth getting your levels checked! In light of this, enjoying being alive and all, paper filters are the only way to go in my opinion.

I hope this helps somebody here... :)

Feb 09, 2010
Making Coffee the Fun Way
by: Gary

I used to use what I call the "campfire" method?put ground coffee in the pot, add hot water. Best coffee ever, but a pain and I read about the cholesterol problem. Now use a #6 paper filter in a plastic filter cone that fits exactly into the opening of a fancy Nissan thermos. Great coffee, easy, stays hot and fresh tasting since it is not being heated. After a while I discovered that Melitta cone filters must be folded along edge and across bottom, but still have to pull up on edges of filter sometimes to keep water flowing trough at a proper rate. Also need to add water a couple of times during process. Work? I enjoy it. There is the challenge of having the water at the right temperature--started using a thermometer, now know the temp by way steam comes out of kettle spout prior to any whistling. My latest experiment has to do with how the water is poured in at the beginning--wet grounds yes, but then pour slowly at first covering all grounds. From a height of exactly 8.3 inches (no this part is a joke). Just used up carton of filters (12 boxes of 40 filters each) from Amazon. Here is what I started out to say: I put the used paper filter with the coffee grounds in them right down the disposal, no problem. How easy is that!

Jan 24, 2010
Paper, I say!
by: Anonymous

I would say that tossing a used paper filter into the compost heap (or garbage can, if you're so inclined) is infinitely less messy and much more convenient than trying to knock out the used grounds and then cleaning a metal filter. As for taste: cheap filters - paper or metal - do impart a nasty flavor to the brew. You can run hot water through a bean-less filter to see what kind of unwanted flavors your setup leaves behind. Which brewing/filter system makes the best coffee? ...Try it different ways and decide for yourself.

Jan 18, 2010
by: Anonymous

I initially used the metal filter that came standard in my new coffee maker, but it seemed as if the coffee was very watery. I then used a paper inside of my metal, and the less porous paper filters held the hot water in contact with the grounds longer, thus increasing the flavor coming off the beans. In essence using a paper filter in my metal filter increased the potency of my coffee. The "smoothness" or "bitterness", I think, is just a result of the potency of the coffee. So the decision is really one of personal preference. Also there are some carcinogens in coffee grounds that are removed by the paper and not by metal, in case your the cautious type.

Jan 08, 2010
Don't like sediment with metal
by: Anonymous

I have always found the metal filters allow more sediment through. It looks pretty awful in the bottom of your coffee mug. I also agree that this may change how the coffee tastes too. You can buy non bleached paper filters which I use and I also think that since paper is bio degradable it really is not a Green issue to use paper. After all you still are throwing grounds away no matter what. I think another key point to make is that if you decide to use a metal filter you would be advised to grind your own coffee because many of the commercial pre ground coffee's are too fine for a metal filter. Hence, the reason it has so much sediment in brewing.

Dec 15, 2009
"most potent dietary cholesterol-elevating agent"
by: Peter

Cafestol, found in coffee, "is the most potent dietary cholesterol-elevating agent known".

Fortunately--paper filters help remove the cafestol!


Ricketts ML et al. The cholesterol-raising factor in coffee beans, cafestol, as an agonist for the farnesoid and pregnance X receptor. Molecular Endocrinology 21(July); 1603-1616.

Sep 30, 2009
by: Rich

A lot of good issues have been raised and we should pay attention to eco-friendly possibilities when deciding between metal and paper. What about taste? One person mentioned that the metal filter gave the coffee a smoother taste. My wife (the coffee drinker in our house) just bought a new coffee maker that has a metal filter and complains that the coffee just doesn't taste right. No matter how she adjusts the amount of coffee grounds she uses, it's awful. Is it the metal filter? Or is it just a bad coffee maker? Any remarks would be appreciated.

Sep 21, 2009
some new information
by: Anonymous

Drink Filtered Coffee
A growing body of evidence is linking unfiltered coffee to higher levels of both LDL and total cholesterol. The reason, scientists suspect, has to do with terpenes?compounds found in the oil from coffee beans. Unfiltered coffees such as those made in an espresso machine or with a French press or a percolator have more terpenes, which interfere with cholesterol metabolism. "Filters catch surface oils," says Nancy Snyderman, MD, chief medical editor at NBC News and author of Medical Myths That Can Kill You: And the 101 Truths That Will Save, Extend, and Improve Your Life. "I learned the hard way that gold filters do very little. Paper filters are far more effective."

May 03, 2009
Paper is biodegradable
by: Anonymous

Paper filters are biodegradable--I put them in my composter everyday! My roses love the grounds. Think of all the water you have to use to rinse out all those holes.

Jan 29, 2009
Paper vs metal coffee filters
by: Anonymous

My husband prefers the metal because he says the coffee is smoother tasting. Not the bitter taste he has been getting with the paper filters. (don't ask me why, he has been drinking coffee for 30+ years and I only drink tea) We haven't found that the metal is slower in any way but have found that if the filter isn't large enough it will go over the top of the filter and go into the pot. SO, I recommend the metal but the larger ones are hard to find and we like to be environmentally friendly.

Jan 16, 2009
Metal Filter from Hell
by: Anonymous

Metal filters are slower, too, so it becomes difficult to make a full pot of coffee with one.

Dec 06, 2008
Cholesterol Difference
by: Anonymous

Paper absorbs the oils in coffee that can elevate your LDL cholesterol. They pass through metal filters, though, so I'd personally recommend using recycled paper filters. Green as the "permanent" filters, and better for your health, particularly if you drink coffee daily.

Nov 18, 2008
gold coffee filters
by: Shannon

What about the interaction with the boiling water and the plastics on the gold coffee filters? Wouldn't organic fiber coffee filters be the best, health wise?

Click here to add your own comments

Return to Coffee Questions Archive 2008.

Follow me on Google+

Follow Me on Pinterest

What's new...

  1. Community Coffee Breakfast Blend review.

    This is our review of the Community Coffee Breakfast Blend. This is a medium-weight coffee, with a unique sweetness and strong, clean finish.

    Read More

  2. Home delivery Coffee Clubs

    You can take some of the hassle out of buying coffee by joining one of the best coffee clubs and having your coffee delivered to your home.

    Read More

  3. Single use pour-over organic drip coffee packs.

    Single use pour-over coffee-making, without any fancy equipment, and some quality organic coffees to choose from.

    Read More

  4. Coffee maker ratings for different types of brewers.

    If you are looking for reliable coffee maker ratings, there are a few places you can try.

    Read More

  5. A Burr Coffee Grinder? Or a Blade Grinder?

    Before you brew your coffee, you need to grind the beans...with a burr coffee grinder or a blade grinder. And your best choice is...

    Read More