The Difference Between Bleached and Unbleached Coffee FiltersSubscribe to our FREE weekly emails on finding and brewing amazing coffee!
Anyone that has immersed themselves into the world of specialty coffee have probably listened to passionate debates about bleached and unbleached coffee filters. But is there really a difference?
There are many out there that swear by their unbleached coffee filters. Of course, there are just as many, if not more, that believe that bleached filters are much better or that there is no difference at all. Today, let’s take a few minutes to examine each type of filter. We will look at the differences between each filter and if they really do impact how good or, I hate to even say it, how bad your cup of coffee really is.
Bleached Filters Don’t Affect Taste
Many people believe that using a bleached or unbleached coffee filter will alter how your coffee tastes, and they are often surprised to find out that isn’t the case at all. The fact is that it doesn’t really matter which one you choose as it won’t change the taste of your coffee. There isn’t a lot of bleach used to make those filters appear white, and it will not impact the taste of our coffee or cause any unwanted health side effects, either.
So what are bleached filters? Basically, they are paper that have undergone a process that makes them appear white. Natural paper, you see, doesn’t actually look white. Think of those cheap paper bags that you get in the grocery store. There are two main products used in the bleaching process:
Chlorine is basically the same stuff they use to keep your pool clean. It is very commonly used to whiten the filters but it isn’t considered as high of quality as filters that are bleached using oxygen. If you are looking for a high quality bleached coffee filter, then you want to look for filters that are bleached using oxygen.
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Unfortunately, bleached filters are not as good for the environment. First, there is an added step to the manufacturing process. Second, these filters with the bleach can pollute the environment when they are discarded, even though there is only a very small amount of bleach used. Oxygen-based bleaches are the better option here as well, as oxygen is much more environmentally friendly compared to chlorine.
Unbleached filters don’t have that bright white look of their bleached counterparts, but they are more natural and much more environmentally friendly. All paper has that brown look and has to be bleached to look white. Unbleached filters don’t undergo that manufacturing process and when they break down the resulting chemicals put back into the ground are nowhere near as harmful as bleaches such as chlorine.
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There are some differences you need to be aware of before you start to use unbleached filters. If you just toss an unbleached filter into your coffee maker, you could find that the coffee ends up with a slight taste of paper to it. Thankfully, it is really easy to prevent this from happening.
- Place your filter in your coffee maker.
- Pour a little water into it to wet the entire filter.
- Discard the water you used to wet the filter and brew your coffee.
Performing these extra steps will help you prevent that paper taste from being passed to your coffee. Once done, you won’t be able to tell a difference in a cup of coffee made from an unbleached filter to that made in a bleached filter.
The Difference Between Bleached and Unbleached Coffee Filters
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Quality is Paramount
Remember, bleached and unbleached filters have little effect on the taste of your coffee. What can impact it is the overall quality of the filter you do purchase. When selecting a filter, don’t try and save a few cents. That few cents can make all the difference in the taste of your coffee.
When selecting a filter, make sure you not only select the proper size for your brewing method of choice but also make sure you pick the correct thickness as well. Thinner filters will allow the water to pass through it much more quickly, and this will certainly affect the brewing process, and not in a good way. The thicker the filter, the more expensive it will be, but the cost differences are so small that they really shouldn’t matter. At the end of the day, that is what is important, isn’t it?
A Word on Cost
Now that you know that quality is what is really important, and that basically when you buy bleached or unbleached it is really the color that you are choosing, let’s talk for a minute about their costs. Unbleached filters go through fewer manufacturing processes, yet for some reason they actually cost more than a bleached filter.
So, if you are really looking to save a little money on your filters, then your best bet is to choose a filter bleached using oxygen that is a little thicker than the cheapest varieties out there. Of course, if you want to friendlier to the environment, you could still choose a nice unbleached filter. Just know that you will be paying just a little more for them.
So Which One is Best?
There are actually very few differences between bleached and unbleached coffee filters. Sure, bleached filters undergo and additional process and you can find some type of bleach in them, but neither type really have any impact on the taste of your coffee. So, use whichever one you feel more comfortable with. Unbleached filters are almost always much better for the environment, so if you are concerned about Mother Earth, then by all means buy unbleached.
No matter which one you choose, always remember to buy high-quality filters. That will affect the taste of your coffee. So unbleached or bleached, it doesn’t really matter. Just make sure they are the right size and the correct thickness so you can brew a great cup of your favorite coffee every time.
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