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Permanent Coffee Filter vs Paper - How do They Impact the Environment?

If you’re the type of coffee lover who prefers to make their own coffee, you would surely have heard many different views on which coffee filter is best. To start, should you choose unbleached over bleached coffee filters? As well, there is the permanent coffee filter vs paper debate - which is better for the environment?

To make things easier, here’s a handy guide to choosing the best coffee filter for you.

Bleached vs. Unbleached

When it comes to choosing between bleached and unbleached coffee filters, it’s essential for you to know that bleached filters are whitened using small amounts of chlorine (the same one used for pool chlorination) or oxygen bleach. Between the two, however, filters treated with oxygen bleach are considered the better option. But if you’re truly into using eco-friendly products, neither option is viable because both chlorine and bleach impact the environment negatively.

Unbleached coffee filters, on the other hand, are untreated so they retain their natural brown color, and are eco-friendly. One downside to using unbleached coffee filters is the papery taste they tend to leave in your coffee. To resolve this, all you need to do is to wet the filter with hot water after putting it into the brewing machine. Make sure to throw away the water that drips from it and rinse the coffee maker before moving on to brewing.

Paper vs. Metal Filters

Yes, there’s a second debate brewing (pun intended) in the world of coffee filters.

Bona fide coffee lovers sometimes reach a point whereby they need to decide between using paper or permanent coffee filters. Permanent filters can be made of different materials for different brew methods, but the most common materials are nylon mesh or metal. In considering the two, there are three major factors you need to consider:


  • The initial outlay for a permanent filter is much higher than purchasing paper filters, especially if you buy the latter in bulk quantities. But, of course, a permanent filter might be the better option long term as it is a one-time purchase. Moreover, there’s the added convenience of no longer having to refill it every time you want to brew coffee.

Environmental Impact

  • Paper filters are biodegradable, but if you look at the long-term environmental impact of permanent filters, there are far fewer resources needed to ensure their long-term use. Moreover, there’s no need to worry about you contributing more chlorine or bleach (albeit in small amounts) as environmental pollutants.


  • In this regard, paper filters are the no-muss, no-fuss option since all you need to do is to fill, use, and discard. Permanent filters need to be emptied and cleaned inside-out to ensure there’s no residue left in them. Therefore, if you’re a busy person, paper filters might be the better option for your lifestyle.

So, which type of coffee filter should you choose?

The choice between using paper and permanent filters, or unbleached versus bleached paper filters is entirely up to you. Just be sure to consider your lifestyle and personal preferences.


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