Barista pouring hot water on the brown coffee paper filter

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

Audrey Harrison
Home brewer

Does your coffee have sediments and tastes flat? Your filters might be the reason. When it comes to good filters, paper and metal pour-over filters top the list.

But choosing one from these two is definitely a challenging task.

Thus to help you choose the one that aligns well with your requirements, here I am.

In this article, I will tell you the difference between paper and metal filters for pour-over. Let's start.

Paper filters: Overview

What are paper filters?

Paper filters are disposable filters using which coffee is filtered and a clean, flavorful cup is produced. It is made of porous paper material that allows water to pass through while locking the coffee grounds.

They are available in different shapes and sizes to fit different brewing devices like pour-over cones, drip coffee makers, and some espresso machines.

Paper filter for pour over

Advantages of using a paper filter

1) Cleaner, brighter cup

Paper filters lock fine coffee particles and oils and produce a noticeably cleaner and brighter tasting coffee which aligns well with people who like a brighter coffee.

2) Better flavors

As it removes the unwanted sediments, the true flavors of your coffee beans are yielded well and a better-tasting coffee is produced.

3) Convenience

Paper filters are very easily available and incredibly easy to use. Just put one in your filter basket, add coffee grounds from above, and start brewing.

4) Dispose easily

After brewing, you can simply just discard the used paper filter. It will help you minimize the mess and produce a clean cup.

Explore: Top Chemex Filters

Disadvantages of using a paper filter

1) Reduced flavors

Paper filters might remove certain coffee's natural oils and flavors and result in a potentially lighter mouthfeel. Thus it might produce a weaker cup.

2) Environmental impact

The disposable nature of paper filters leads to more waste, especially for frequent coffee drinkers, and impacts the environment negatively.

Best practices for using paper filters

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

This will help remove any residual paper taste and preheat the brewing apparatus. Also, make sure you adjust your grind size accordingly for proper water flow and extraction.

Metal filters: Overview

What are metal filters?

Metal filters are coffee filters that allow water to pass through while keeping coffee grounds and result in a full-bodied and richer cup of coffee.

They are reusable and made from stainless steel or fine mesh materials which acts as their unique selling point. They are very durable and eco-friendly. But you must clean them thoroughly after each use to prevent any residue buildup.

Metal pour over filter, its stand, and cup

Advantages of using a metal filter

1) Richer flavor profile

Metal filters let the maximum of the coffee's natural oils and essence pass through which results in a fuller-bodied cup with a richer and more robust flavor.

2) Eco-friendly

Metal filters are reusable which significantly reduces waste over time. This is a major benefit for environmentally conscious coffee drinkers.

Disadvantages of using a metal filter

1) Unwanted sediments

Metal filters let the sediment and fine particles pass through which results in a cup of coffee that is slightly cloudier compared to one brewed using a paper filter. Due to this the clarity and appearance of the brewed coffee are affected.

2) Maintaining an extraction balance is challenging

To get a balanced extraction with a metal filter, you have to be very careful. It might require certain experimentation and adjustment of brewing parameters to yield the desired flavors as you prefer.

3) Regular cleaning

You must clean your metal filters well after every use to free them from the unnecessary buildup of coffee oils and residues. It can strongly affect the flavor of your future brews.

4) Potential for clogging

Metal filters with very fine mesh may get clogged, mostly if the coffee grind size is too fine or if the filter is not cleaned well between uses. It can further affect your brew and result in slower brewing times and inconsistent extraction.

5) Higher upfront cost

Though with metal filters you can save your hard-earned money, they are mostly very expensive as compared to disposable paper filters. But their durability and reusability serve this initial investment with time.

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

1) Filtering capacity

Paper filters lock more fine particles and oils and produce a cleaner and brighter cup of coffee with less sediment. It is best at filtering as it removes more oils and fines from the coffee.

On the other side, metal filters allow more oils and fines to pass through and brew a full-bodied coffee.

2) Ease of use

Paper filters are easily disposable and require no cleaning which makes them handy. While metal filters are reusable and must be cleaned to prevent coffee oils and residue buildup.

3) Heat retention

Paper filters are good at heat retention and produce a consistent and controlled extraction process.

In contrast, metal filters have slightly lower heat retention compared to paper filters and strongly affect the brewing process and extraction consistency.

4) Brewing speed

Paper filters brew faster than metal filters, as they do not restrict the flow of water.

On the other side, metal filters may result in a slower brewing speed as they have finer mesh and increased resistance to water flow.

5) Sustainability

Most paper filters are disposable, many are biodegradable and compostable which makes them an environment-friendly option. On the other side, metal filters are reusable and offer long-term sustainability that reduces waste over time.

6) Flavor profile

Paper filters produce a cleaner and brighter cup of coffee, with less sediments and a lighter body. In contrast, metal filters allow more oils to pass through and give a full-bodied coffee with more flavors.

7) Cost

Paper filters are cost-effective as they are available on a per-unit basis, but they require frequent purchases.

On the other side, metal filters have a higher upfront cost but can be reused multiple times which saves money in the long term.

8) Maintenance

Paper filters require zero maintenance, as they are disposed of once done.

In contrast, metal filters require regular cleaning to avoid the buildup of coffee oils and residues that affect the flavor of future brews.

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

Thus the choice between paper and metal filters depends on your taste preferences and brewing style.

Paper filters are great for those who want 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 make the decision, remember that both paper and metal filters have their merits. That’s all for this article. I hope now you can choose one from these two filters.

I would suggest that you try your hands on both and find one that aligns best with your schedule and preferences.


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 and result in a full-bodied coffee.

2) Are brown coffee filters better than white ones?

The color of the filter doesn't strongly 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 well after each use with hot water. At times, 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 ...