How Many Coffee Filters Should I use?

How Many Coffee Filters Should I use?

Under most circumstances, using one filter is sufficient.

That said, there are several reasons why you may want to use more than one coffee filter.  The top reasons are 1) You want stronger coffee, 2) You are getting unwanted coffee grounds in the coffee pot, 3) You're trying to change the flavor of low-quality coffee, 4) You have a "cone" type of coffee maker but you have flat-bottom filters.  In this case, it's best to use two filters to ensure that you don't spill and that you get the proper seepage, this will improve the flavor of your coffee.

Counterintuitively, using two or more filters will result in stronger coffee.  The reason is that more filters cause the coffee to drip into the pot more slowly, leaving the water inside the brewing section longer, which allows the brewed coffee to seep.  Because it's seeping longer, the coffee that finally drips into the pot is stronger.  The filter isn't filtering coffee, it's filtering coffee grains.  You may get a stronger more bitter flavor from the coffee.  Using two or more filters works better with cheaper, plastic drip coffee makers.

If you grind your own coffee, consider griding it for longer and producing a finer grain before trying to use multiple filters.  Using multiple filters is only a workaround, for example if you're brewing coffee at work using low-quality office coffee.

Use Cold Water.

For the best brew possible, start with cold filtered water.  Purified water will result in a fuller flavor if available.  There's no advantage to putting hot water in your coffee pot.  In fact, using hot water from the sink can introduce contaminates into the water, such as calcium particulates.  Hot water heaters have a tendency to collect things in their pipes, which isn't a concern for showering or most uses of hot water from the tap, but cold tap water is the best source.

The Different Kinds of Paper Coffee Filters

Most Coffee filters are constructed from either cloth, paper or metal.  Gold coffee filters exist, they cost about $30.  The most common problem people have with paper filters is the coffee filter collapsing when the used grinds are removed.  This happens because of an imbalance with where the hot water is dripping.  Make sure the nozzle is centered with the filter, you want the hot water to drip right into the middle.

Flat Bottom

A bit self-descriptively, this filter is characterized by having a flat circular bottom with ruffled edges.  They are known to make a milder brew, and are popular in office coffee environments commercial kitchens and high volume coffee shops.  You'll get a sweeter tasting coffee from flat-bottom filters and it will allow more of the flavor notes from the beans to pass through.

Coned Filters - Why The Shape Of The Filter Matters

Coned filters, on the other hand, produce a stronger cup of coffee.  If you have a coned coffee maker, you probably won't get much benefit from using multiple filters.  In fact it may cause problems with spillage.  You'll get a darker, smokier flavor from coned filters.  If you prefer dark or strong coffee, you'll prefer these. The cone shape ensures the best saturation and extraction of flavors as compared to basket filters.  The shape of the cone matters principally because it affects how the water flows through the brewer.  From a flavor perspective, using cone filters are best, they brew a better coffee thanks to the shape of the filter.

Coned Filters are often used with simple 'pour over' metal coffee brewers, where you boil water and slowly pour it over the filter to brew your coffee.  This techniques produces some of the most flavorful coffee you can brew, the downside is that it's labor intensive and only good for one cup at a time.

The best way to grind whole beans for a cone filter is a "medium grind."  Grind your coffee for approximately 15 seconds to get a medium grind.  Ideally you'll want to use two tablespoons of ground coffee for every cup that you brew for coned filters.  This works out to about two scoops of a large spoon that isn't overly filled.

Cone Shaped Coffee Filters should be folded so that they fit inside your maker properly.  If you look at most coned filters, you'll notice "double crimped" ridges on one side, indicating where you should fold the filter to make it fit.  This is so that the filter, which is easily broken, stays in tact during the brewing process and while you are removing the coffee grains.

Unbleached Coffee Filters

Paper is naturally brown, and only becomes white because of bleaching.  For people who prefer to use products with the least amount of chemical processes, brown filters are the best choice.  There's no evidence that any bleach seeps into coffee from white filters, but the cost difference between white and brown filters is insignificant, especially if you prefer the more natural product.

Brown Filters Compared to White Filters

Unbeached (brown) filters are the healthiest.  They will reduce the amount of a chemical called "cafesol" from seeping into the final brew, which is believed by some to increase cholesterol levels.  You don't get this with metal or permanent filters.  Brown filters are better for the environment, however, because the manufacturing process produces a by product called dioxin, which is not environmentally friendly.  Coffee filters are not carcinogenic, despite some news reports to the contrary.

Coffee Filter Sizes

There are two main filter sizes sold in stores: #2 and #4.  The only relevant difference between these two is the amount of coffee you can brew for each type of filter.  A #4 Filter is designed to be used with a 8-12 cup coffee maker.  The #4

Permanent and Stainless Filters

Stainless Steel Metal filters create a more robust, aromatic flavor.  Most often these are used as standalone filters which enable you to brew coffee without a brewer.  All you need is hot water.   With proper case, metal filters will last as long as you need it to.  Most paper filters are biodegradable, though, so the environmental impact is negligible.

Gold Coffee Filters

Gold Coffee Filters are a great investment if you are a coffee lover.  The filter will easily last several years, and gold filters help create a rich, deep and flavorful coffee.   They allow additional oils to seep into the coffee, providing a deeper and flavorful cup.  No metal taste is added to the finished product.  To clean your gold tone coffee filter, use regular dish soap and a delicate brush, such as a toothbrush and rinse thoroughly.  Do not use a paper filter with a gold tone coffee filter.

Cloth Filters

Reusable cloth filters will last at least three months if used once per day.  Cloth Coffee Filters are great.  They are made of a fine mesh material.  Cleanup is a breeze and they will produce a medium bodied coffee that smells great.  If using daily, some manufacturers suggest you let clean the cloth first and then let it soak in the fridge, or if using occasionally to put it in a zip lock bag and put it in the freezer.  Cloth filters are popular in Japan and Costa Rica

Plastic Coffee Filters

Plastic, reusable coffee filters are perfectly safe.  There's no evidence that they impart harmful or carcinogenic chemicals.  Many new coffee pots will include them, and they save you the hassle of having to buy paper filters.  One disadvantage is that it's easier for these to overflow and spill, and being plastic the lifetime of the filter may be shorter than metal.  Unlike with paper filters, with plastic you maintain the full and complete taste of the coffee, and if used properly you won't have any coffee grinds in your cup.  Most are dishwasher safe.

Gold Filtered Coffee

Gold coffee filters will produce a flavorful, lively coffee that preserves many of the natural oils present in coffee beans.  They last longer.  Make sure you are buying an actual gold filter, there are many knockoffs who paint the filter a gold color.  They should cost at least $30 USD, if they are less than that the manufacturer isn't using real gold in the process.

Should you pre wet your coffee filter?

Coffee Filter Alternatives

There are several hacks you have use if you've run out of coffee filters.

Aluminum foil.  This hack is best reserved for those emergency situations where you want to make coffee, but you don't have paper towels or any other paper-substitute (we don't recommend toilet paper) but you DO have aluminum foil.  Making one uses an entire roll of aluminum foil and takes about 45 minutes to do, so we categorize this more on the "interesting but impractical" option for coffee filter alternatives.

Paper Towels.  You can create a homemade coffee filter from paper towels.  Paper towels, when properly folded, make an acceptable substitute for coffee filters.

Toilet Paper is not advised, but it is possible.  If you have a grinder, you're better off making Turkish style coffee, which doesn't use a filter at all.

Unfiltered Coffee

Drinking Unfiltered Coffee is perfectly safe.  The basic process is to boil water, pour into a mug with about 1.5 tablespoons of medium grind coffee, let sit for about four minutes.  Using a spoon, gently push the coffee grinds to the bottom of the mug.  If you have a metal strainer, transfer the coffee into another cup using it, then let it settle for another minute.  Using spoon, remove any floating grinds and enjoy.

No Coffee Filter

It's perfectly possible to make coffee without a coffee filter.  This is the traditional way that coffee is made in Turkey.  There are a few different ways to make coffee without a filter: boiling medium grind coffee in a pot of water, letting the coffee grinds settle to the bottom, and pouring it into a cup is the quickest and the best if you're trying to make more than one cup.  If you just want one cup, you'll get a better cup of coffee following the method above.

French Press

A French Press is a small cylindrical piece of glass that comes with a strainer.  You put your coffee into the glass, wait four minutes, and then push the coffee down starting from the stop with the provided strainer.  It creates a bold and strong coffee, the bottom of your coffee cup will contain a sludge.  The process also produces a full and deep flavor which is great for people who like strong full-bodied cups of coffee.

Cheesecloth, if you have it available, is a great drop in replacement for a coffee filter.  Just don't plan to use it to make cheese with after.  Boil water in a pot, take the ground coffee and wrap into a ball and put the grounds into the water like you're making tea.  It might take a little longer to percolate using the method, you'll need to let it permeate for 5-7 minutes.

Ideal Amount of Coffee To Put In A Filter

The ideal amount of coffee to put in your filter is one and a half tablespoon of coffee for every six ounces of water.  In other words, about 1.5 tablespoons per mug of coffee you want to brew.  If you're like me and don't want to carefully measure every time you brew coffee, the perfect ratio of coffee to water is one spoonful for every mug you want to brew.  A mug usually contains between 6-8 ounces of liquid.

Different Types of Coffee Filters Will Affect the Taste

Paper filters will reduce some of the natural flavors and oils of coffee, resulting in a milder and more moderate cup.  Stronger and bolder brews are made with plastic and metal reusable filters, whereas a French Press will preserve most of the natural flavor of the beans.

Three Ways To Make Filter Coffee Taste Better

1.     Add Spices.  Sugar is the common choice, but cinnamon, cardamom, mint, and cocoa powder are all tasty additions to filter coffee, and can improve the flavor when you brew low quality, stale or bad tasting beans.|

2.     Bottled, distilled water can make a noticeable difference in the quality of the brew.  

3.     Coffee begins to lose its flavor shortly after being ground.  If you're buying ground coffee, consider getting a grinder and purchasing whole bean.  Having greater control of the grind process can materially affect your flavor.  Buying fresh, whole bean coffee is easily the best thing you can do to make your home brewed coffee taste better.

The Qualities of a Good Cup Of Homemade Coffee

Ceramic Coffee Drippers are a great alternative to make a great cup of coffee at some.  Many people find the taste and flavor to be superior to the typical plastic drip coffee brewer.  You may have seen these in Starbucks or other coffee shops, it's a traditional method of making coffee that involves pouring the coffee over a ceramic filter directly into your cup.  You still need to use a filter with these, but with a pour over dripper you control all aspects of the brewing process.

To get the best cup, boil distilled or purified water.  Grind whole beans in three bursts of 4-5 seconds.  Put the ground beans into the pour over dripper, and slowly add the water giving the coffee ample time to seep so it soaks up the flavor of the beans.