Best Paper Coffee Filter
Bunn 1000 Paper Coffee Filter
"...a milder, balanced cup of coffee, and Bunn’s paper filters deliver that..."
Best Metal Coffee Filter
Grosche Ultramesh Coffee Filter
"...probably the only coffee filter you’ll need for the rest of your life..."
There are basically two kinds of coffee filters. You probably use paper filters at home like the one on left. That’s what most people use, actually, but you can also get metal filters, like the one on the right.
These are considered by most coffee purists to be the best coffee filters. They are generally made of stainless steel, though occasionally, some company will come out with a filter made from something else (usually either an exotic metal which costs a lot of money, or plastic, which is cheap), and try to use that as a selling point.
Here’s a tip where that is concerned: don’t get taken in by the hype. If someone tells you they’ve invented this fantastic new gold mesh filter or something, save your money. That said, here are three different examples of filters, I'll show you the best products (in my humble opinion) that represent each category, along with their pros and cons.
Best Paper Coffee Filter - The Old Reliable Partner
Bunn’s paper filters get the job done, pure and simple. These are the filters I use. I’m not a “coffee purist” and I don’t like eating my coffee for breakfast. I personally prefer a milder, balanced cup of coffee, and Bunn’s paper filters deliver that.
Some people will say that you spend a ton of money on paper filters, whereas you only buy one steel filter. There might be some truth to that, but when you can get a bag of a thousand filters for less than twenty bucks, you begin to realize that you’d have to drink a LOT of coffee for that to get expensive.
Best Gold Tone Coffee Filters 2021
Depending on the brand of coffee maker you own, you may be able to find “gold tone” filters like these:
Cuisinart GTF Coffee Filter
Mr. Coffee GTF2-1
I can tell you that this type of coffee filters is not terribly durable. Most of them claim to be dishwasher safe, but I’ve had mine melt in the dishwasher before, and because of that, they are NOT recommended.
According to Amazon’s reviews, they get high marks (4.4 stars out of five), but I don’t personally recommend them because they’re just not as durable as the stainless steel ones.
Best Coffee Filters: The Stainless Steel Coffee Filter
Then you have your metal filters, like this one:
Universal Permanent Coffee Filter
This stainless steel filter costs two dollars more than the bag of 1000 paper filters, and is probably the only coffee filter you’ll need for the rest of your life. It’s simple, this particular product fits most coffee makers, and it’s effective. Highly recommended, and the folks on Amazon agree (the product gets 4.1 stars, with only 18% of reviewers giving it a negative—1 or 2 star—review).
Stainless steel is typically used simply for its durability. The metal in question doesn’t really affect the taste. You won’t find many coffee purists who will argue otherwise.
The differences between the flavor of coffee brewed using a paper filter and coffee brewed using a metal one are profound. Even a casual coffee drinker will be able to tell the difference.
Below are a few of the key differences:
Grosche Ultramesh Coffee Filter
All that to say, if you like strong coffee and want to experience the full range of flavor and texture that the coffee bean has to offer, you’re definitely going to want to brew your coffee using a metal filter. On the other hand, if you like a milder, more balanced flavor in your coffee, then you’re going to gravitate toward the paper filter. Also, if you don’t like picking coffee grounds from between your teeth, the paper filter is the clear winner.
Types of Coffee Drinkers
Broadly speaking, there are two kinds of coffee drinkers: casual and purist. Most people fall into the “casual” coffee drinking category. They’re in the habit of having a cup (or two, or six) in the morning to jump-start the day but, for the most part, they’re not obsessed with it.
For these people, coffee is more of a means to an end. It’s a way to get their eyes open in the morning, and they usually don’t think much about it.
At the other end of the spectrum are the purists. These are the people for whom Starbucks was made. These are the people who know their Barista by name, and their Barista has their top three favorite drinks memorized. They want a certain kind of coffee, made with a specific bean, roasted in a particular way, and they can tell when something’s different!
If the person making the drink for them used 2% milk instead of whole milk, they’ll know. If they used beans that weren’t French Roasted, they’ll know. For these people, enjoying coffee, weather hot, iced, or frozen, with or without a double shot of espresso, is a lot like drinking wine. Coffee lovers even use much of the same terminology to describe the flavor of various beans.
If you’re one of the millions of “casual” coffee drinkers, you might not care much what beans are used, or how the beans are roasted. You might care (a little) if the coffee is flavored a certain way, but I can promise you this: You will absolutely care about the kind of filter that is used when brewing your cup of Joe. That might sound silly, but keep reading, and you’ll soon understand why.
The Most Important Aspect of A Coffee Maker
It doesn’t matter if your coffee maker is ten cup capacity or twelve. It doesn’t matter if it’s electric or sits on your stove top. Those are just details. What really matters in terms of a good coffee pot…in terms of the “right” coffee pot for you, is the filter. Metal or paper? In fact, I would go so far as to recommend buying your coffee maker exclusively on your preference here.
Name brands aren’t important. At the end of the day, a coffee maker is a coffee maker. Mr. Coffee will make you an acceptable cup of Joe, as will Delonghi. Again though, the filter will change your enjoyment of that coffee a great deal. Imagine your disappointment if you don’t like the feel, taste and texture of coffee grounds in your mouth, the first time you pour yourself a cup of coffee brewed using your metal filter? You would probably be inclined to take the coffee maker back!
What is the Best Coffee Filter?
So at the end of the day, what’s the best coffee filter? This is ultimately going to come down to taste and personal preference.
If you like a richer, full-bodied flavor in your coffee, then the stainless steel filter is the way to go, no question. If, on the other hand, you prefer a balanced, milder flavor to your coffee, paper will serve you better.
In no case though, would I recommend the “gold tone” mystery material product in the middle. Again, maybe I was just unlucky. That product gets consistently high marks from other Amazon reviewers, but based on my firsthand experience with them, I’ll never buy another one. Paper for me all the way!