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Most AeroPress sets come with a pack of 350 paper filters to get you started.
This leads us to believe that paper filters are what the manufacturer recommends.
But paper filters may not be what’s best for you.
Main Differences Between an AeroPress Metal Filter vs. Paper Filter
One of the biggest differences between an AeroPress metal filter vs. paper filter is that paper filters lend to the clean flavor profile associated with an AeroPress, so if you prefer a richer, bolder coffee brew, a reusable metal filter might suit you better. There are several things to consider when choosing between an AeroPress metal filter vs. paper filter, including sustainability, cost, and ease of use.
We’ll help you evaluate each factor and determine which of these types of coffee filters is right for you.
For most of us the flavor profile of our coffee is our top consideration, and this is where you’ll notice the difference between metal and paper AeroPress filters the most.
Paper filters are far less porous than metal filters, holding back coffee sediment and coffee oils. The reduction in oils and solubles leads to a much brighter, cleaner cup of coffee. This is the flavor profile AeroPress has become known for. Paper filters are great for experimenting with high-quality single origin coffee beans as they allow the subtleties and complexities of these often lighter roasted beans to shine, highlighting nuanced fruity and floral flavor notes. So in terms of taste, you’ll likely notice the difference in taste if you switch from paper filters to a metal filter.
Some coffee aficionados report that standard AeroPress paper filters are too thin, allowing small amounts of oil and fines to seep through. Many recommend using two or even three AeroPress filters together, or opting for something thicker, like the Aesir paper filter.
If you love the ease and control of the AeroPress but prefer a richer, oilier brew more reminiscent of a French press or moka pot, a metal filter should do the trick. Being more porous, a metal filter will leave you with more coffee grit/sediment, but you should be used to that if you’re using these other coffee brewing methods.
There are now several varieties of metal filters for the AeroPress, many designed to be less porous, allowing oils through but capturing coffee grounds and reducing sediment. An industry favorite is the Able DISK fine metal filter.
There is growing recognition for the need for sustainable consumption, and many of us are assessing the ways we can reduce our waste and overall footprint, both by curtailing consumption and incorporating reusable options into our routines. It’s a close race between paper and metal filters. Which is more sustainable really depends on the lifespan of your metal filter.
Paper AeroPress filters are designed to be single use and popped into the garbage or compost along with your coffee grounds. A paper coffee filter can, however, be reused several times if rinsed and left in the filter cap to fully dry. Some coffee lovers report reusing filter papers for up to 20 brews. The risk here is that this may impart undesirable qualities to your coffee, or that build-up may affect your ability to plunge your AeroPress coffee maker effectively.
If sustainability is a top priority for you, reusing your paper filters is likely a no-brainer, but they are still disposable products that require continual replacement over time. The good news is filters have a rather small footprint, particularly if you compost them.
If you opt for a quality stainless steel filter and care for it properly, rinse it well after each use, soak it occasionally in a descaler, and always ensure it’s fully dry before it’s stored, it should last you a very long time. The materials and manufacturing that go into metal filters initially are more intensive than for paper filters, but in the long run it’s the more sustainable choice. That being said, some of the finer metal filters are known to be a bit more delicate and require extra care to ensure their longevity, so that’s something to keep in mind.
Ease of Use
The AeroPress is insanely easy to use and clean. That’s a big part of its appeal. So it’s important to make sure your filter choice keeps things simple and streamlined as well.
Paper AeroPress filters take the cake for ease of use. Simply place them into the filter cap, fill with ground coffee and add hot water. After your brew, pop out into the compost with your grounds. Easy peasy. Just rinse and lightly scrub your AeroPress coffee maker and you’re done.
Metal filters are just as simple to use in the brewing process, but they require more attention when it comes to clean up. If you’ve used paper coffee filters in the past it can be difficult to break the habit of dumping your filter into the compost or garbage bin. It’s not so fun having to dig reusable filters out of the trash.
Metal filters also have a tendency to become clogged over time, particularly those that are more porous. A quick scrub with a dish scrubber usually gets the job done, but it can be helpful to give your metal filter an occasional soak in some Urnex or other coffee descaler. These extra steps are not especially laborious, but are something to consider if simplicity is a priority for you.
When it comes to the cost of AeroPress metal filters vs. paper filters, just know this: metal filters cost more upfront, while paper filters cost more in the long run.
This is an area often overlooked, and for many users it’s not something that’s overly concerning. But if you have health issues related to cholesterol levels, this is definitely something to take into consideration.
Coffee contains chemical compounds known as diterpenes, most notably cafestol, which can interact with the body’s ability to regulate cholesterol. Paper filters have been found to remove nearly all diterpenes from coffee. For a healthy individual, this is not necessarily a factor you need to consider, but if cholesterol is an issue for you, this could tip the scale.
Final Thoughts on the Difference Between Paper and Metal Filters
The AeroPress is a wildly popular coffee brewer. This amazing coffee maker is simple, affordable, easy to use, and so much fun to experiment with. Being able to use both paper and metal filters makes it even more versatile. Which filter style you choose will likely depend on whether you want that bright, clean profile or you prefer a richer taste and oilier brew.
Given the approachable cost of both styles of filters, I recommend keeping both on hand so you can tailor your coffee brewing method to each delicious coffee bean variety.
Lighter beans, go paper.
Darker beans, give that metal filter a go!