Having coffee is a very personalised affair because you'd have people go out for coffee and make the best memories they'd talk about forever or you'd rather mellow a day down with a cup of coffee because what else is as good a mood lifter. In the same sense, choosing the right filter too is a very subjective process. A version of my favourite coffee could be very different from your favourite coffee, with plenty of variables to play around with as well, my favourite brewing method could be vastly different from yours even though we use the same brewing equipment. Similarly, when it comes to my favourite filter, it might not be your preferred taste and it's completely okay. On top of that our preferred brewing filter changes due to a lot of circumstances as well, at the core of all this is the mood a particular coffee sets. [location, time, availability, state of mind, and feasibility.]
When I am travelling, I would prefer paper filters as they are easy to manage. It is easy for me to brew the coffee and dispose of them whenever it suits me. They hardly occupy any space and as a breeze to carry. And if I lose one or two, which touchwood hasn't happened yet, it won't matter much. Paper filters produce a light-bodied and balanced cup of coffee. All you need to do is pre-wet a filter with hot water and voila! you can brew your cup. After brewing, take the filter and dispose of it directly. You can easily buy these filters anywhere near you or order them online. On the other side though, they are harmful to the environment. The manufacturing process contains a lot of sub-processes, which ultimately increase the carbon footprint. The bleaching process uses chlorine and oxygen, so the bleached paper is almost hazardous to the environment when discarded. At its core it is disposable, thereby the cost of replacing filters adds up. That's what made me shift to cloth filters.
Given the scenario though I find myself at home more often than not, and like the coffee fanatic I am I would be brewing more than 1 cup per day, here I would prefer a cloth filter. Since a cloth filter has more advantages than a paper filter, it would be my go-to when I am home. Additionally, they are kind to the environment and often employ small businesses in making them (like ours). The biggest advantage is getting a cup with more mouthfeel and balance without any fines. Brewing more cups of coffee on any given day would not increase my filter cost as they are reusable. The only hassle would be the cleaning process and I can let it slide most of the times. When comparing the benefits, it seems justified to take two steps more every day after all. Sometimes I can be lazy and lethargic, and on those days I would prefer a metal filter or paper filter.
Metal filters are sustainable and reusable. All of the oils are allowed to pass through, giving you a coffee that is full-bodied and bold. It is easy to maintain since all you have to do is rinse them under running water. But, the one-time cost of this filter could be very high. You'll also have to ensure that your grind size is not too fine because these ultra-fine sediments would pass to your cup undisturbed, changing your coffee taste over time. There are not many retailers selling these filters, so it can be hard to find one. Personally, I am not a big fan of metal filters because they are expensive and they allow some coffee fines to enter into the cup and give off distasteful notes sometimes.
In a nutshell, Cloth filters are both sustainable and environment-friendly. They collect all the coffee fines in the cloth itself. There are chances of a slower brew time due to coffee fines getting stuck in cloth strands. But, if they are maintained properly and cleaned, they can help make a mighty good cup of coffee. You can get these filters at approximately 25% of the cost of a paper filter, over time of course. Easier said than done, your favourite filter still could be very different from what others use. Just as I said earlier, it's extremely subjective and what you like might not be appreciated by others. Each one of us is responsible for our cup of coffee at the end of the day, and as always, coffee is love.
- Adhi from Wobh