The AeroPress is a relatively new brewing technique, only being developed in 2005. Since its inception, the AeroPress has garnered a reputation for being one of the most travel-friendly and easy to use brewing methods. AeroPress brewing can give you café-quality coffee at home (or wherever you go) with a bold, rich flavor.
Why Do You Need AeroPress Filters?
Brewing in an AeroPress is quick and involves a plunger that pushes the brewed coffee through a filter. When you get a new AeroPress, it comes with a set of bleached paper filters that you can use. In any brewing method, including the AeroPress, a filter is used to prevent coffee grounds from going into the cup as well as to remove certain unwanted compounds that can cause excessive bitterness, acidity, or unwanted flavors.
A filter is essential to using an AeroPress, you simply cannot brew without it. However, you do have some options when it comes to what kind of filter you use. As mentioned, the AeroPress comes with paper filters but you can also use an AeroPress metal filter or even a cloth filter. Different filters give you different results, but today we’re just going to focus on AeroPress metal filters.
Major Differences Between AeroPress Metal Filter vs Paper Filter
First, what is a paper filter and what is an AeroPress metal filter? A paper filter is made out of bleached or unbleached filter paper, made out of coarse long fibers from fast-growing trees. A paper filter not only separates the liquid and ground coffee while brewing but it also removes certain coffee oils called diterpenes. The AeroPress paper filter is much thinner and lighter than other pour-over paper filters. A metal filter is essentially the same thing but made out of a metal mesh instead of paper.
Here are a few parameters we can use to evaluate metal vs paper filters:
1. Taste and sediment
Using an AeroPress metal filter gives you a rich, heavy cup with a dense mouthfeel and some sediment in the cup. On the other hand, using a paper filter creates a cup that is sediment-free, light, and clean.
Since metal filters are reusable and paper filters are single-use, it’s clear that metal filters are a more environmentally-conscious choice. But this doesn’t mean that paper filters are always terrible for the environment. AeroPress paper filters are compostable and so composting your filters instead of throwing them in the trash is a great option for those who care about sustainability.
3. Ease of use
Using a paper filter is more convenient for people in a hurry since you brew and throw it away (or compost it!). A metal filter needs a bit more maintenance every time you use it since it needs to be cleaned and dried after every use.
A high-quality stainless steel metal filter can be quite costly but it lasts for years if cared for properly. On the other hand, paper filters are relatively cheap but is a recurring expense. Therefore, metal filters are expensive upfront but cheap over time while paper filters are cheap but the expense builds up.
5. Health effects
A paper filter removes coffee oils called diterpenes. These compounds have been linked to cholesterol dysregulation in the body but may also have some anti-inflammatory properties. Metal filters don’t remove these diterpenes so it ends up in your cup. Whether one is healthier than the other is ultimately up to your health needs and concerns.
Should You Buy an AeroPress Metal Filter?
AeroPress recommends that you use their paper filters as the default but in the end, it comes down to personal preference. If you need something easy to use and cheap and prefer lighter coffee, then a paper filter would work for you. If you don’t mind some sediment in your cup and like a heavy, full-bodied coffee, then pick a metal filter. A metal filter is also good if you want to reduce your coffee waste and can’t compost paper filters. However, if you have health issues surrounding cholesterol, then paper filters are the way to go.
A metal filter does require some maintenance. You need to wash the metal filter after each use to remove any sediment and build-up. The filter needs to be dried and stored carefully. Once a week, you also need to deep clean it with warm, soapy water or soak it overnight in a mixture of white vinegar and water and then scrub with some baking soda.
Also note that since AeroPress recommends only their branded paper filters, choosing paper filters from another company or choosing a metal filter can negate your warranty. This may not be a big deal to some but it’s something worth keeping in mind.
No matter which type of filter you select, always keep your equipment clean and only use high-quality coffee beans. That’s the true secret to good coffee, no matter the brewing method!