Permanent VS Paper Coffee Filters – Which Is Better, And Why

Trying to figure out if you should keep the filter your coffee machine came with ? I know the feeling, I stared at mine for a full 2 minutes before deciding what to do with it.

There’s always this debate of paper coffee filters vs permanent filters.

And both have their pros and cons, which makes things even harder for someone trying to choose what to do.

So let’s give them a side by side comparison, so you can pick your winner.

paper coffee filter

1. Paper filters trap coffee oils in them, prevent high cholesterol

The nice thing about having a filter is that it will trap any and all debris, including the fine dust that comes with ground coffee, and the coffee oil that gives coffee some of its best flavors.

That being said, coffee oil has been shown to be among the ones that raise cholesterol, which  means that paper filters stopping most of that oil from getting into the cup is a good thing.

Now, if you have no health condition and you’re not on cholesterol watch, then this won’t sound like good news for you.

In fact, you might just be upset that you’re getting a little less flavor.

But if you’re a heavy coffee drinker (5 cups of more), even if your health in top notch, you might want to avoid drinking too much of the coffee oil.

In a permanent filer, the coffee oil manages to seep through the tiny holes and reach your coffee.

2. Permanent filters need washing, paper filters are discarded

One thing I absolutely have about permanent filters is the washing.

After each coffee I make, I’d have to wash the coffee filter, which is a bit on an annoyance for me.

It’s one of the reasons I switched to paper filters, since those I can just pluck out of the coffee basket, and run a simple rinse on the whole filter machine, with no filter.

A permanent filter will require washing, as it will retain some of that coffee oil, the debris that come with ground coffee, and the fine grime that settles into odd nooks and crannies.

Not to mention the stain you get on a permanent filter, especially if it’s not a metal one.

I only used my filter for coffee once, a year ago, and it’s still stained.

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paper coffee filter

3. Paper filters are not as environmentally friendly as permanent ones

However this means that I’m using paper in ways that aren’t the most environmentally friendly, I suppose.

This is one card permanent filters have up their sleeve, and they’re one one of the ways to reduce unnecessary paper waste.

A permanent filter means you’re using the same one filter for several years, cleaning it thoroughly time and time again.

As opposed to using a new paper filter with each coffee you brew.

Of course, you could always look for paper filters made from recycled papers. Which I haven’t found at a supermarket, but I’m sure there are some companies that produces them.

4. Permanent filters always keep their shape, never rip open

Another thing that paper filters have going to for them is that they never break.

Really, I’ve used my permanent filter to brew tea several times and it did a very good job, never once broke, or split a seam, or was in any way problematic.

As such, I think permanent filters are superior to paper filters if you know your break easy.

This is especially frustrating when your paper filter rips open during the brewing process, and you’re left with ground coffee in your coffee pot.

Or when you try and take out the paper filter and pinch in wrong, so it rips.

Or when you’ve filled the filter a bit much and it tips over when you try to pick it up.

In this respect, permanent filters are much more reliable and sturdier.

I’ve never had paper filters break, but I’ve had them flap around with the water and end up covering the coffee. Essentially double filtering my cup of coffee, which somehow left me with the wold’s thinnest coffee.

This never happens with a fixed, sturdy permanent filter.

5. Paper filters rarely impart an odd flavor

Now, a bit of a good point about paper filters, is that they’ve come a long way from the ones we had 10-20 years ago.

Often, you’d find paper filters that made your coffee taste way too papery to ignore.

Those were usually low quality filters, but even those are now tasteless.

At least, the ones I’ve used since getting my drip filter.

I’ve used store-brand filters so far, and they’ve been alright.

As for permanent filters, those need to be very, very well washed/cleaned, so that your next cup of coffee will not taste of rancid coffee oil and stale ground coffee.

If you think I’m exaggerating, you should compare how your coffee tastes with the filter fresh, and how it taste 6 months later, after daily use.

Permanent filters also have some odd nooks and crannies, some fine lines, some places where the coffee oil and dist will settle and become hard to wash away, in time.

So are paper coffee filters better than permanent ones ?

That’s something I’ll vote very subjectively on.

In my opinion paper filters offer the best of both worlds:

  • convenience, you can just throw them away
  • good filtering system, nothing gets past them
  • easy to troubleshoot, if need be
  • easy to replace, if you ever run out

To me permanent filters are a bit of a nuisance, mostly because of how thoroughly I have to wash them after each use.

Maybe to you it might not be a big deal. But for me it is, so I’d much rather use paper filters.

Of course, whether you use paper filters of permanent ones, the coffee basket needs regular cleaning as well.

Even if your filter keeps most things out of your coffee, there will still be some residue on the inside of the coffee basket.

Mine can be pulled out, so once a week, aside from the daily rinse, I give it a thorough cleaning, as well as the coffee pot itself.

Final thoughts

Whichever kind of filter you use is up to you. I’ve compared them for you, so you have a broader image of how each filter works, and how well you can rely on each of them.

Both paper and permanent filters are easy enough to find, and they come in several shapes and sizes.

If you want to know more about coffee or tea, feel free to check the related articles below. Who knows what else you might find ?