What’s the difference between brown and white coffee filters?
Pour over coffee and coffee makers will not be complete without using a filter. This small, disposable utensil separates the coffee grounds from the liquid coffee as hot water passes through. Most brewers don’t really care about what type of filter they use, but others are keen on choosing between brown or white coffee filters to pair with their Chemex and electric coffee maker. To better understand the distinct qualities between the two, let’s take a closer look at each filter and find out which one is the best for you.
We will also feature two products from the brand that started it all: Melitta. The brand name actually came from Melitta Bentz who looked for a way to filter the bits of sediments in her coffee. She later applied for a patent, and the success of the product continued to rise alongside the popularity of pour-over and drip coffee.
White coffee filters are made by bleaching the paper either with chlorine or sodium percarbonate (“oxygen bleach”) to achieve the white exterior of the filter. Don’t worry, chlorine bleaching uses a significantly low amount of the element for it to be considered harmful to your body. Oxygen bleaching, on the other hand, is eco-friendly so you won’t have to worry about harming the environment once you discard your filter.
Like most filters, these come in different sizes. The Melitta Junior Basket Coffee filter is great for standard sized coffee makers that makes 4-6 cups of coffee in a single brew. These cost a little less than the larger sizes, so you might want to check them out to save more!
Brown filters are unbleached, which results in a somewhat papery taste that you wouldn’t experience with a white filter. To prevent adding unwanted flavors to your drink, it’s highly recommended to rinse your filter with hot water once or twice before brewing. The second time should do it but if the papery taste still persists, consider changing your brand.
What we like the most about brown filters such as the Melitta Unbleached Filters is that they tend to be thicker, making them more resistant to tears since they are not as processed as white filters.
Things to consider
Before making your choice, there are a few other aspects you need to consider. First, bleaching does not affect the flavor of your coffee, so it really doesn’t matter whether you buy a white or brown filter. Just make sure to rinse your filter first before brewing!
Choosing high-quality filters is also important. You don’t want a ripped filter in the middle of brewing, right? Not only is it a waste of time, it’s also a waste of resources. So make sure to check the thickness and tear resistance of your filters before buying.
This is optional, but you might want to choose an environmentally friendly option, i.e. unbleached filters. They do cost a bit more than the bleached ones, but they are less dangerous to the environment. However, if you really need to save a few bucks, go for an oxygen-bleached filter instead.
So, which coffee filter is better?
Both white and brown filters have their advantages and disadvantages, but it’s entirely up to you to decide which one you’ll pick. White paper filters are definitely cheaper, but brown paper filters and oxygen-bleached variants are more eco-friendly. Regardless of your choice, make sure to pick only high-quality filters for a great brew!