One of the key elements to brewing pour-overs is the filter. It can impact the taste of your coffee more than any other element of the brewing process. Whether you are looking to be cost-effective, environmentally friendly, or are simply looking for the easiest and quickest fit, we have reviewed some of the leading Chemex filter options that will give you what you need and deliver a delicious cup of joe.
At a Glance: Our Top 4 Picks for Best Filters for Chemex
Quick Summary: Best Filters for Chemex
|Chemex Bonded Filter||Check on Amazon →|
|Barista Warrior Metal Filter||Check on Amazon →|
|The Green Polly Hemp Filter||Check on Amazon →|
|CoffeeSock Cloth Filter||Check on Amazon →|
Best paper filter – Chemex Filters (our top pick)
Undoubtedly, the Chemex classic paper filters will give you the best-tasting cup of coffee brewed with this pour-over coffee maker. We have yet to see a paper filter hit the market that is on par with the Chemex original.
Made with double-bonded paper, these filters absorb the oils from the coffee grounds, giving your brew the most full-bodied and complex tasting profile available. At 20%-30% thicker than most paper filters, these filter papers do not rip when wet, and no grinds will find their way into your brew.
What we love:
- Easy to use and easy to clean. With multiple sizes and shapes available, these disposable filters need very little prep, especially if you get the pre-folded style. They can easily be picked up and thrown out without the fear of tearing and spilling used grinds everywhere.
- Comes in packs of 100, which will last more than three months for most coffee drinkers.
- Delivers a clean, full-bodied taste with no grinds.
- Compostable and biodegradable.
What could be better:
- More expensive than most paper filters. This cost will add up over time, but their increased thickness and absorption abilities make these quality filters worth the added cost.
- Uneven distribution of the filter, with three layers of filter paper on one side of your filter bowl and one layer on the other. You can cut the filter so that it fits better, but that takes additional time and is not always convenient. Most coffee drinkers will not notice a change in taste whether the filter is evenly distributed or not. But this may make a difference for the coffee connoisseur.
There are several different versions of the Chemex filter, some square and others round, pre-folded or unfolded, white paper or natural paper. Choose which ones work best for you and the Chemex you have. If you get the unfolded filters, check out our guide on the best way to fold them.
Best metal filter – BARISTA WARRIOR
Having a stainless steel reusable coffee filter will change up your pour-over brew quite a bit. These metal coffee filters do not hold on to the oils the way a paper filter will, resulting in a very different taste from your Chemex. Some people love this difference. If that’s you, then a Barista Warrior Stainless Steel Reusable coffee filter is the way to go!
What we love:
- This filter’s flow is just right. With two layers, there’s a mesh stainless steel insert on the inside that helps you not worry about grinds finding their way into your brew.
- Ease of cleaning – these filters are dishwasher safe but can also be cleaned by simply dumping out the grinds, rinsing, and scrubbing with a brush or sponge.
- Does not clog easily with oils if washing is done on a regular basis.
- With three different finishes, you can choose the filter that best meets your style. And honestly, these filters make your Chemex that much more appealing to the eyes.
What could be better:
- The inside mesh is tear-able if you are not careful with cleaning. Do not use a bristle brush on the inside mesh as it may cause tearing.
- Some users found the flow too quick, and, when testing it out, I noticed that I did need to dial the coarseness level back a little compared to using a paper filter. However, because this really is introducing new elements to the brewing process, I wasn’t too bothered by this and was able to find a medium-coarseness that worked well with this filter.
If having a more full-bodied brew sounds like your cup of joe, metal filters are the best route to go. They are easy to store, clean, and brew with. There are many options out there, but we highly recommend Barista Warrior’s filters as a great starting point for diving into the metal filter world.
Best hemp filter – The Green Polly
If your top priority when looking for filters is eco-friendliness, then look no further than The Green Polly’s Organic Hemp Cloth filters. Coming in a three-pack, these filters allow you to brew your coffee knowing you’ve reduced your carbon footprint. They provide the same type of extraction as a paper filter, absorbing the beans’ oils and letting your roast’s unique flavors shine through.
What we love:
- We love how these filters provide many of the same benefits as a paper filter while being a better choice for the environment.
- They’re easy to clean by simply tossing the grinds out and washing them in water. You can also throw them in with your laundry for a more thorough cleaning.
What could be better:
- Takes a full 24 hours to dry out. They come in packs of three, so you can rotate through them, but having to wait so long for drying creates more clutter in your kitchen than a single reusable metal filter does.
- The slight smell when first used. We recommend thoroughly soaking your filter before the first use to remove any lingering taste that might come through on the first use.
- They’re on the smaller side, which can lead to grinds escaping or suctioning into the spout of your Chemex, creating air flow lock.
Hemp filters are a great alternative to paper and cloth filters. They give the same flavor and taste results in your brew while creating less waste, and are much more environmentally friendly in their production process than any other filters.
Best cloth filter – CoffeeSock
Cloth filters can be another great alternative to paper filters. They often provide the same brewing quality as a paper filter but produce less waste. There are several options out there for cloth filters, but we highly recommend CoffeeSock organic cotton filters made in Austin, TX.
What we love:
- We love how cheap these filters are for the quality of brewing you’ll get.
- The organic cotton filters will soak up the oils the same way your Chemex paper filters will, providing the same crisp, clean cup of coffee.
- Easy to clean out and maintain. Dries quickly.
What could be better:
- These filters will only last for 6-9 months with daily use. Cotton deteriorates much quicker than other alternative filters, so you will have to replace these filters within a year of purchasing.
- Although they prevent the waste of a one-use filter, cotton filters have their own environmental impact on the production process. They are not as eco-friendly as their hemp alternatives.
Cloth filters are a great alternative to single-use paper filters. They are easy to clean and store, and provide the same great extraction process and flavor as any other Chemex filter. CoffeeSock organic cotton coffee filters are a great option for the occasional pour-over fan.
Best Features in a Filter for Chemex
When brewing from a Chemex, there are many elements involved that can affect the brew. The roast that you choose, the type of grinder you have, the ratio and weight of coffee to water, or even simply the water temperature can be tinkered with to find your perfect brew. But what impact does the filter have on a Chemex pour-over? There are actually a few, and we’ve broken them down here.
Metal filter vs. paper or cloth filter
The most distinct change that a filter can provide, whether you go with a paper or cloth filter instead of a metal filter, is absorption. Both cloth and paper will absorb the oils from your grinds. This allows for a very smooth and complex tasting profile from your Chemex brew. You will be able to enjoy identifying the tasting notes of that particular roast and enjoy a less acidic aftertaste.
On the other hand, using a metal filter lets the grind’s oils remain in the brew, which will produce a less full-bodied cup of coffee and taste more like a French press brew. It also allows more sediment to get through, making your coffee thicker and even a little “chewy” at the end with some grinds.
Essentially, it comes down to each person’s particular preference and what you most enjoy from your coffee. It’s fun to try out new methods, and you might be surprised by what you enjoy most!
Cleaning Your Reusable Filter
If you’ve decided to go with a reusable filter for your Chemex, awesome! One thing to keep in mind, though, is how to clean it. The more use it gets, the more oil buildup happens.
Boil your cloth filter every few weeks, if not weekly. You can boil it in water for 10-15 minutes or use water and a tablespoon of baking soda. You should avoid using soaps directly on your cloth filters as they may leave a taste in your filter.
Some cloth filters are machine washable with a light detergent, but you should double-check any washing instructions provided with your filter. Always let your filters dry thoroughly before using them again.
Metal filters need a bit more upkeep as they have a tendency to clog with oil build-up. You should deep clean your filter once a week or every 10-15 uses.
The easiest way to clean them is with a bristle brush and soap. Be sure to use the bristle brush on the outside of the filter alone, as many filters have a fine mesh layer on the inside that can tear easily with too much agitation. You can use your fingers or a sponge to massage any portion of the mesh that may be particularly clogged.
Another option is to clean your filter with water and baking soda. You’ll want to soak your filter with water and dish soap for 10-15 minutes to loosen up the oils and sediment. Remove from the water and then simply sprinkle some baking soda on the outside of the filter, using a bristle brush to gently massage the baking soda into the filter. This should clear up any remaining blockages.
You can also use a 1:1 white distilled vinegar to water ratio. Let it soak for 10-15 minutes. Use a bristle brush on the outside to remove any remaining oils or stains.
Coffee can turn into quite a hobby, and like any hobby, it’s not always cheap. We love how simple the Chemex is, but Chemex paper filters are not the cheapest. Although they do come in packs of 100 (enough to last more than three months), Chemex filters are on the high end of coffee filter prices. This is because they are three times thicker than other filters and are some of the largest filters available.
You can always look into alternative and cheaper paper filters, but you might be compromising on the quality of the brew. We have yet to see a quality paper filter that can compete with the Chemex filters. Chemex filters absorb all the oils of the grinds, which gives your brew a full-bodied taste – the unique Chemex taste. Other paper filters do not filter the grinds quite as well as Chemex filters.
Alternatively, you can use a cloth or hemp reusable filter. These typically have a lifespan of 6-12 months (cotton being on the shorter end as it deteriorates faster, often getting stiff with coffee, no matter the amount of washing), so they will be a reoccurring purchase, but at a lower price and much further apart.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should I use a reusable filter in my Chemex?
Ultimately, this is up to you and your preferences. Each type of reusable filter has its pros and cons, many of which we have broken down for you in our review section. Having a reusable filter will help lower extra expenses, will help you have a smaller carbon footprint, and will create far less waste.
Alternatively, most one-use filters are biodegradable and can sometimes provide a more specific brew taste that you may enjoy and don’t require as much cleaning.
What is the difference in Chemex filters?
Chemex makes a few different filter styles.
- Circle vs. Square: Honestly, there is no difference between these two, other than aesthetics. A circular Chemex filter evenly protrudes over the Chemex carafe, while a square one will have two pointed portions sticking above the rim. Otherwise, they brew with the exact same quality.
- Folded vs. Unfolded: The only difference between these two styles is the extra step of folding your filters. I personally like getting the pre-folded one, because the last thing I need pre-caffeination is having to utilize fine motor skills. But, you may find unfolded filters to be cheaper through some retailers.
- Natural vs. White: This is where the differences actually matter. Natural filters are a light brown color and will need significantly more pre-wash to remove the papery taste they can add to your coffee. Natural filters are also better for the environment as they have a less involved washing process and use less water. But this difference will be noticeable in the taste. Bleached white filters are given an oxidizing bath in their creation, which removes the majority of the paper-tasting components from the filter. This will give you a much crisper and bolder tasting brew.
Why are gold-tone coffee filters so much in demand?
It all comes down to consumerism. A gold filter works like any other metal filter; the one big difference – it’s gold. That’s it. That’s the difference. Whether for the aesthetic or simply to just own a gold coffee filter, a gold filter’s benefits are simply in its looks and don’t provide much alternative value compared to other mesh filters.
What’s the perfect grind size for Chemex coffee makers?
You’ll want medium-coarse to coarse grinds for a Chemex brewer. Paper and cloth filters are better accommodated for coarse grinds, while a reusable metal filter works better with a medium grind. You can read more about getting the perfect grind size here, but it ultimately comes down to your own personal taste preferences.
Why is Chemex regarded as superior to other coffee makers?
A Chemex is one of the longest-standing pour-over brewers that has withstood the test of time. Created in 1941 by Dr. Peter Schlumbohm, this well-beloved brewer is known for creating a crisp, clean cup of coffee that highlights the unique elements of the coffee bean roast and its origin. It is easy to use, much cheaper than most brewing methods and is easily the most aesthetically pleasing brewer out there.
We hope that you can confidently move forward with finding the best Chemex filter fix for your brewing pleasure. Whether you go with the classic Chemex paper filters, a bougie gold filter, or keep it organic and environmentally friendly with a hemp filter, you will soon be brewing your perfect cup of joe!