Did you know that your coffee filter can seriously affect the flavor of your coffee? That’s right! That’s why getting the right one is so important.
To help you out, we’ve put together a quick guide to coffee filter sizes. Here’s everything you need to know.
How Coffee Filters Work
The purpose of a coffee filter is simple. They’re designed so that while the hot water extracts the flavor, taste, and aroma of the coffee grounds, the filter separates the finished product from the grounds.
If you didn’t have a filter in place, the grounds would be directly in your cup of coffee.
As a result, you’d have little pieces of coffee bean swimming around your mug when you want to take a sip! That’s why having a coffee filter is such an important part of the brewing process.
Coffee Filter Types
With the hows and whys of coffee filters out of the way, let’s take a look at types. There are three main types of coffee filters:
Each one works a little differently. Let’s take a deeper look.
Paper Coffee Filters
Paper coffee filters are the cheapest and most common types of filters. They’re made out of highly absorbent, tightly woven paper that pulls the excess oils out of the coffee beans, resulting in a smoother cup.
One thing to note is that there are two types of paper coffee filters:
Bleached filters are the cheapest coffee filters. Unbleached filters are eco-friendly, but they’re more expensive.
Metal Coffee Filters
Metal coffee filters are reusable, so you don’t have to throw them away every time you use them like you would a paper filter. They’re made out of fine metal mesh, which separates the coffee beans from your cup.
Because the mesh of the metal isn’t as finely woven as a paper filter, however, the coffee oils and smaller grounds will still get into your cup. This can actually give your coffee a much cleaner flavor.
The biggest downside to metal filters is that they can be tough to clean. You’ll need to rinse them out every day and do a deep scrub of them once a month.
For the monthly cleaning, you’ll want to:
- Soak the filter in soap and water for four hours
- Boil the filter in white vinegar and water and let it sit overnight
- Clean the filter with a coffee filter cleaner
Any of these methods will help get lingering grit out of the filter.
Cloth Coffee Filters
Cloth filters are a happy medium between metal and paper filters. They’re more finely woven than metal filters, so they tend to keep particles out of your coffee better than a metal filter.
At the same time, the fabric isn’t as tightly woven as paper, so you get a bit more of the oils than you would with a paper filter. As a result, you get strong, sediment-free coffee.
The real issue with these is that you have to thoroughly wash cloth filters out after each cup of coffee. And, you can’t let them dry out completely or stay too wet.
They’re not as durable as metal filters, either. They are reusable, but after about 100 uses, they’ll start changing how your coffee tastes.
If you would like to know more about this coffee filter and how to use and maintain it properly, you should check this video. It’s a good jumping-off point for learning about these filters!
Coffee Filter Shapes
There are a couple of different shapes of coffee filters as well. Three of the most common shapes include:
Here’s a closer look at each one.
Cone Coffee Filters
Cone coffee filters are what you’ll typically see on a pour-over or V60 brewing machine. With the cone filter, water passes evenly over the ground coffee.
The result is a very smooth and even cup of coffee. If you like nuanced coffee, this is a good shape filter to use.
Bucket Coffee Filters
Bucket filters have a flat bottom. You’ll typically see these on your standard drip coffee maker.
Bucket coffee filters don’t extract as much flavor from the beans as conical filters do. This is why, many times, drip-brew coffee tends to have a very mild and even flavor.
Disk Coffee Filters
Disk coffee filters are exactly what they sound like—round, flat, disk-shaped filters. You generally will see these filters used for French press and Aeropress brewers. Otherwise, they’re not very common.
Coffee Filter Sizes
Now that you’ve got a clear idea of the materials and shapes of coffee filters out there, let’s move on to talking about size.
The size of the coffee filter depends largely on what shape coffee filter you use.
Bucket filters only have two sizes:
- Junior: for coffee makers producing six cups or less of coffee
- Regular: for coffee makers that produce six or more cups of coffee at a time
You can use regular filters in a junior machine, but you can’t use junior filters in a regular machine.
Conical filters, on the other hand, are a bit trickier. There are four different sizes of conical filters, each of which is denoted by a number:
- #1 Coffee Filters: Suitable for single pour-over systems or single-serving coffee makers
- #2 Coffee Filters: Suitable for two-cup to six-cup coffee makers or for a double or single pour-over system
- #4 Coffee Filters: Suitable for eight to ten-cup coffee makers or three to six-cup pour-over systems
- #6 Coffee Filters: Suitable for coffee ten-cup or larger coffee makers or for six-cup pour-over systems
Getting the right size cone filter is important for brewing a full pot of coffee. Otherwise, the coffee grinds won’t fit in the filter and you’ll get grounds in your drink.
How Much Ground Coffee for Each Filter?
It’s not just the filter that affects your coffee’s flavor. The amount of coffee grounds you use also affects how your brew tastes.
The SCA Golden cup standard says that you should use 14 grams (about two tablespoons) of ground coffee for every eight ounces of water.
This can vary slightly depending on the grind size, amount of water, and even just personal preferences. However, most coffee experts will suggest measuring the coffee before you grind it to be more efficient and precise.
Tips for Brewing a Perfect Pot of Coffee
It’s not just the coffee filter that matters; you’ve also got to worry about the rest of the brewing process, too. Here are a few additional tips to help you brew the perfect pot of coffee.
Buy Fresh Coffee Beans
Although you can always find pre-ground coffee, you should steer clear of these bags. Coffee reaches its peak potential just a few days after the roasting process. And, coffee starts to seriously lose its flavor within a month of its roast date.
Store the Beans Properly
Another key tip for brewing great coffee is to properly store the beans. Keep them in a vacuum-sealed container with a valve for air to escape through. This helps preserve the flavor of the beans.
Just thirty minutes after grinding your coffee beans they start to lose their flavor. To get the best tasting cup of coffee, try grinding your beans right before you make your brew.
Get the Temperature Right
According to the National Coffee Association, the optimal temperature for drip coffee to brew is somewhere between 195 and 205 degrees Fahrenheit.
Unfortunately, many coffee machines don’t brew at this temperature. Try to find a machine that lets you adjust the temperature so you can get a better cup of coffee.
Wet the Filter First
If you choose to use paper filters, make sure to get them before you add the coffee grounds to the basket. This helps get rid of the papery taste of the filter and leaves you with a cleaner cup of coffee.
Find the Perfect Coffee Filter Size
Now that you have a good understanding of coffee filter sizes and why they matter, you’re ready to make the perfect brew!
Just remember that the material, size, and shape of the filter will all affect the taste. Try experimenting with a few different types of coffee filters to get the best results!