Barista pouring hot water on the brown coffee paper filter

Paper vs. Metal Pour-Over Filters: Which One is Better?

Audrey Harrison
Home brewer

When brewing that perfect cup of pour-over coffee, choosing the right filter can make a significant difference in your overall experience.

Paper and metal filters are both widely used and bring their own set of advantages and drawbacks to the brewing process.

If you are on the fence about picking a filter, join us as we explore the nuances of both paper and metal options, and decide which one suits your preferences best.

Paper filters: Overview

What are paper filters?

When you think of pour-over brewing, you most probably imagine using a paper filter, don’t you? These filters are pretty common when it comes to pour-over coffee brewing.

They are typically made from bleached or unbleached paper and come in various shapes to fit different pour-over drippers. They offer a convenient way to brew coffee without the worry of sediment or coffee oils.

Advantages of using a paper filter

Besides being super convenient to use, paper filters excel at capturing fine coffee particles and oils, resulting in a cleaner and brighter cup.

They enhance the clarity of flavor by preventing unwanted sediments from reaching your final brew. Moreover, paper filters are readily available and easy to dispose of after use.

Disadvantages of using a paper filter

While paper filters excel at clarity, they can also remove some of the coffee's natural oils and flavors, leading to a potentially lighter mouthfeel.

Also, the disposable nature of paper filters contributes to waste in the long run.

Best practices for using paper filters

To get the most out of your paper filter, make sure to rinse it with hot water before adding your coffee grounds.

This helps remove any residual paper taste and preheats the brewing apparatus. Also, remember to adjust your grind size accordingly to ensure proper water flow and extraction.

Metal filters: Overview

What are metal filters?

Often made of stainless steel, metal filters offer an alternative to paper filters in pour-over brewing. They consist of fine mesh that allows more oils and micro-fines to pass through, resulting in a coffee with a fuller body.

Advantages of using a metal filter

Metal filters preserve more of the coffee's natural oils and essence, leading to a richer and more robust flavor profile. They are also reusable, making them an eco-friendly choice that reduces waste over time.

Disadvantages of using a metal filter

Looking at the downside, metal filters can allow sediment and fine particles to pass through, resulting in a cup that might be slightly cloudier compared to one brewed with a paper filter. Achieving a balanced extraction with a metal filter can also be trickier due to the different filtration dynamics.

Best practices for using metal filters

Before using a metal filter, give it a thorough rinse to remove any potential manufacturing residues. Be prepared for a slightly different brewing process than with a paper filter, as the water flow and pouring technique may need adjustment. You will need to experiment with your grind size to find the right balance between flavor extraction and clarity.

Paper vs. metal pour-over filters: Quick comparison

Compare different aspects.

1) Cost

Paper filters are relatively inexpensive, but they need to be replenished regularly. Metal filters have a higher initial cost but are reusable, making them cost-effective in the long run.

2) Technique

Paper filters generally require less attention to the pouring technique. Metal filters demand a more controlled pour due to their distinct filtration properties.

3) Flavor profile

Paper filters emphasize clarity and brightness. Metal filters offer a fuller body and more oils, resulting in a bolder taste.

Factors to consider while choosing metal or paper filter

1) Extraction Preference

Consider your preference for the final flavor and texture of your coffee. Paper filters excel at producing a clean and bright cup. They effectively remove fine particles and coffee oils, resulting in a brew with higher clarity and pronounced acidity. If you enjoy a cup that's crisp and showcases the distinct flavor notes of the coffee beans, a paper filter might be your go-to choice.

If we talk about metal filters, they allow more coffee oils to pass through, giving your brew a fuller body and a more robust flavor. This can result in a cup that's more like French press coffee. If you appreciate a richer and oilier mouthfeel with a deeper flavor profile, a metal filter is the way to go.

2) Environmental Impact

An important consideration in today's eco-conscious world is the environmental impact of your brewing choices. Paper filters are typically single-use and need to be disposed of after each brew. While they are biodegradable, using them regularly can contribute to waste over time.

On the other hand, metal filters are reusable. This means they generate less waste, making them a more sustainable option in the long run. By choosing a metal filter, you reduce the number of filters that end up in landfills, contributing to a more eco-friendly coffee routine.

3) Brew Technique Comfort

Your comfort level with the brewing technique can influence your choice between paper and metal filters. Paper filters are more forgiving when it comes to the pouring technique.

They provide a consistent flow rate and are less likely to be affected by variations in pouring speed or turbulence.

This makes them a great option for those who are new to pour-over brewing or want a simpler, more straightforward process.

Metal counterparts require more finesse in your pouring technique. Because they allow more coffee oils and sediment to pass through, you'll need to be mindful of your pour rate and pouring pattern to prevent over-extraction or uneven brewing.

If you're an experienced brewer who enjoys the challenge of mastering different pouring techniques and getting the most out of your coffee beans, a metal filter might be an exciting choice.

Paper filter or metal pour-over filter: Which is better?

Ultimately, the choice between paper and metal filters depends on your taste preferences and brewing style. Paper filters are excellent for those seeking a clean and bright cup, while metal filters are ideal for those who desire a more robust flavor and don't mind a bit of sediment.

Wrapping up

As you take the decision, remember that both paper and metal filters have their merits. Try your hand at both options to discover which filter aligns best with your coffee palate and brewing technique. Each filter type offers a unique way to experience pour-over brewing.


1) How do paper and metal filters affect extraction and flavor differently?

Paper filters emphasize clarity and remove more oils, while metal filters allow oils to pass through, resulting in a fuller-bodied flavor.

2) Are brown coffee filters better than white ones?

The color of the filter doesn't significantly impact performance. It's mostly about personal preference and any potential residual taste.

3) Can you use a paper towel as a paper filter for pour-over coffee?

It is difficult to say if you can use a paper towel instead of a filter. It is best to stick to purpose-designed filters for consistent results.

4) How to clean a metal filter?

Rinse the metal filter thoroughly after each use with hot water. Occasionally, give it a more thorough cleansing with soap and water.

5) Do metal coffee filters work as well as paper filters?

Metal filters offer a different brewing experience, focusing on preserving oils and body, but they might allow more sediment into the cup compared to paper filters.


Audrey Harrison

Team TAB
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I am a coffee aficionado based in Seattle. I have devoted my passion and expertise to perfecting the art of home coffee brewing. I became known for my exquisite pour-over and espresso creations. I source coffee beans from local roasters and explores ...