To separate the two main components in a cup of coffee, namely water and the coffee itself, we basically have two alternatives: decantation - typical of systems such as Ibrik - or filtration - common in all percolation systems.
Coffee filtering systems can be made up of different types of material: paper, fabric, metal, ceramic and even glass (although less used)
To separate the two main components of a coffee, namely water and the coffee itself, we basically have two alternatives: decantation - typical of systems such as Ibrik - or filtration - common in all percolation systems.
Coffee filtering systems can be made up of different types of material: paper, fabric, metal, ceramic and even glass (although less used). Choosing between them depends entirely on what we want as the final result in the cup.
To understand which system is right for us, it’s essential to understand that each of them, among their various characteristics, have a different "filtering power". That is, a different ability to retain the coffee particles within the drink.
If we did an experiment and compared an extraction carried out with a metal filter and a paper filter, we would immediately notice a clear difference in the visual appearance of the two cups (if you are curious to know if I am telling the truth, I suggest you go and watch our video on YouTube). The metal filter does not have the same retention capacity as paper and does not have the ability to prevent oils and microparticles from passing through it and finding their way into the cup. The drink is darker and cloudier, with a more consistent body. Coffee lovers may not like this since many prefer brighter cups, where the taste buds are not "disturbed" by the finest particles (the so-called fines) that have managed to pass through the filter and reached our palate.
It must be said, however, that it is precisely the oils present in the coffee that carry most of the aromas. Thanks to them, the taste experience is definitely more complete.
Conversely, the paper filter, thanks to its finer texture, will give more clarity to the drink, both visually and from a taste point of view as well as it being more acidic and fruitier when compared with the other filter.
But that's not all: there are various types of paper filters on the market. The difference between them is their filtering properties, which are closely related to their texture, thickness and rigidity.
Are you familiar with the Chemex filters? These, for example, are much thicker than those normally used for the V60 and have a tendency to retain more substances, slowing down the extraction of the coffee and consequently requiring a coarser grind.
Hey! Did you know that the idea of filtering coffee with paper came from a woman? Melitta Bentz, a German housewife who lived at the beginning of the last century, decided to use a sheet of her son's school book to counter the bitterness of the coffees of that period which were of poor quality and not roasted well.
Nowadays the opportunity to buy high quality, well roasted coffee is easier to come by and it’s therefore even possible to taste an excellent cup extracted with a metal filter.
The cloth filter, more rarely used due to its difficulty in cleaning and higher cost, is perhaps the best compromise in terms of taste: it allows you to avoid sediments in the cup, while not trapping all the oils present in the coffee.
The ceramic filters, used in many industrial and non-industrial sectors - and for many years in the East for tea filtration - is a solution to be taken into consideration. Its high filtering power helps to avoid astringency, giving a soft but full-bodied cup. It too is higher maintenance (if you do not wash it well before and after each extraction, you run the risk of blockages), but ultimately attractively priced given the possibility of almost infinite use over time.
Well, it depends on your tastes! If you want a full-bodied cup, cloudier but sweeter, then definitely go with the metal filter. If you prefer a brighter and more acidic cup, then I recommend you opt for the paper or fabric filter. If you like to experiment and try something new, go ceramic!
When you have found the filter you prefer, let us know! We would love you to share your experience with us! If you want to train more on this topic you could also consider to subscribe to one of our next Brewing courses!