New coffee makers often come with a reusable mesh filter basket. Are these any better than paper filters and do they work properly? Here’s what you want to know.
Reusable coffee filters are made from fine plastic mesh. The mesh lets water through but not the grounds. The mesh filter can be washed after use. These filters do work well and brew coffee although the taste and texture will be different than with paper filters.
Find out more pros and cons and what you can expect from the coffee brewed with these filters down below.
What Are Reusable Coffee Filters?
You might have seen some coffee makers that come with so called reusable filter baskets. What are these things actually and are they properly reusable?
You are probably familiar with the standard paper cone filter that most coffee makers use. You put the filter in the machine, grounds in the filter and that’s it. Reusable coffee filters work pretty much the same except you get a little basket that’s made from a usually plastic mesh. This plastic mesh holds the grounds instead of having a paper filter.
The plastic mesh basket can then be emptied of grounds and washed before being used again.
The mesh is quite fine and doesn’t let the grounds through but it can still let through some residue get into the cup.
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Do Reusable Mesh Filters Work?
So do these mesh filters actually work? You see them more and more with new coffee makers but should you get one with this type of filter?
First off, most machines have the option to use both a paper filter and a reusable filter basket so you can just try and see what you like best. If you’re not sure, get a machine that can take both.
The reusable filters will produce coffee just like paper filters but the taste and texture will be a bit different, more on that below. So reusable coffee filters make coffee perfectly fine and they do work in that regard.
The main reason why reusable filters are advertised is that they are more durable and environmentally friendly. If that’s actually true is hard to assess.
A plastic filter basket likely takes up more energy and resources than a pack of paper filters. But since you can reuse the mesh basket, at some point it’ll be even. How many cups of coffee do you have to brew for that to be the case? That’s impossible to say. However, it does seem likely that over the lifespan of the machine, you would use less resources by using a mesh basket.
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Does Coffee Made With Reusable Filters Taste Different?
Reusable mesh filters do produce different tasting coffee than coffee brewed with paper filters. Even if everything else is the same, changing the type of filter will produce different tasting coffee and the filter actually has a pretty profound effect on the taste and texture.
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Paper filters filter out virtually all the grounds, sediment and oils from the coffee. Mesh filters let through the oils and finer grounds.
That leads to the mesh filters leaving some sediment in the cup and having a different taste and texture. The lipid content of Arabica beans is around 15% so this is actually a significant part. You won’t get all of that in your cup even with a mesh filter but some certainly will. Just like any other food or drink, the fat content does change the taste and feel of the final product and coffee is no different.
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The coffee oils do give a rounder taste and thicker feel to the coffee. Especially combined with the residue that’s also let through, this gives a much bolder and thicker feel to your coffee. This is not necessarily a bad thing. What you prefer is a matter of taste. I personally prefer the taste of paper filtered coffee but your taste could well be different.
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Pros And Cons Of Reusable Coffee Filters
Let’s take a quick look at the pros and cons of these reusable mesh coffee filters so you can figure out if you need one or not.
Pros of Reusable Mesh Coffee Filters
- Reusable filters will likely be more environmentally friendly in the long run but maybe not in the short run.
- You’ll never run out of coffee filters again.
- Easy to clean
- Produces bolder coffee (depends on your taste if that’s a pro).
Cons of Reusable Mesh Coffee Filters
- Not environmentally friendly if only used some times.
- Can leave residue in the cup.
- You have to clean up the filter instead of just throwing out the paper.
- Has to be properly recycled while paper filters are easily compostable.
For most people, a mesh filter will work well and if you can live with a little more residue in your cup, it’s a way to reduce your amount of waste and used resources.