Cone Vs. Flat Bottom Coffee Filters: Does It Matter?

If you're wondering which is the best between cone vs. flat bottom coffee filters, the answer will depend on how you like your coffee.

Cone vs. flat bottom coffee filters
Filter baskets are either conical or flat bottom

When it comes to brewing coffee, many coffee aficionados will state that the basket shape is as important as grind size, filter type, or any other variable you can think of. But is this so? If you’ve shopped around lately for a drip coffee brewer, you’ve probably noticed that filter baskets are typically either conical or flat bottom in shape.

So, which is better when it comes to cone coffee filters vs. flat bottom coffee filters? The answer is neither.

Your choice of filter is a matter of taste, flavor, and preference. To provide you with an informed view, I experimented with both filters this week, and here’s what I found.

Why Does it Matter?

The shape of the coffee filter matters since it affects how the water flows through the coffee grounds, which, in turn, influences how the coffee molecules are transferred into the brew. The number of coffee molecules that are transferred into the brew affects the flavor and aroma of the coffee. If the water runs too quickly through the coffee grounds, your coffee will be weak.

On the other hand, water that runs too slowly through the grounds can leave you with a bitter cup of coffee. In the end, the spray head and filter shape must work together optimally to ensure that the grounds are soaked evenly and for long enough to brew good coffee.

A Short Overview of Cone And Flat Bottom Coffee Filters

paper filter in a compartment
Flat filters have a larger surface area

As the name implies, cone filters have a cone shape with a tapered bottom and a wide opening. Because of the cone shape, the water lands up in a central location where the coffee grounds also are, ensuring that the water passes evenly through the grounds.

Conversely, flat filters, which are also called basket filters, have a larger surface area. Because of this design, the water comes into contact with the grounds for a shorter time, and fewer Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) are extracted from the coffee.

Comparison Between Cone Vs. Flat Bottom Coffee Filters

                           Cone Filters                           Flat Bottom Filters
A cone filter produces stronger coffee, which can help you save on coffee grounds.Because of the shorter extraction time, you may need to add more grounds if you like a strong cup of coffee.
In a cone filter, the water remains in contact with the coffee for longer. In a flat bottom filter, the water runs through the coffee grounds faster.
The cone shape of this filter causes the water to collect in a central location, which provides even saturation.Depending on the coffee brewer, the sprout may sometimes not saturate all the coffee grounds evenly.
Flavor attributes of lighter roasted coffees made in cone filters include citrus, berry, and sour notes.Flavor attributes of lighter roasted coffees brewed in flat-bottom filters tend to have dried fruit, sweet, and floral notes.
Brewing dark roasts in a cone filter can intensify the bitterness of a brew.Some of the flavors you can expect when brewing with dark roasts in flat-bottom filters include chocolate, cocoa, and woody flavors.
Cone filters are the preferred filters for manual pour-over brewers.These filters are used in flat bottom drippers and in some drip coffee machines.
You can use a medium-fine grind with a cone filter.A medium grind works best with a flat filter.

What’s Better About Cone Coffee Filters?

coffee filter
Cone filters have a longer extraction time

As a lover of a strong and more intense coffee brew, I like cone filters more than their flat bottom counterparts. The shape of the cone filter makes for even soaking of the grounds and a longer extraction time, which translates into a bolder-tasting brew.

Also, the sides of flat bottom filters sometimes fall onto the grounds. This is an issue you'll never have with cone filters.

What’s Better About Flat Bottom Coffee Filters?

Although the larger surface area can lead to uneven saturation of the coffee grounds, this should not be a problem if your coffee maker's spray and flat bottom filter work well together. Also, flat bottom coffee filters sometimes produce a more balanced coffee brew than cone filters, especially when it comes to darker roasts. Since the extracting process is slower with cone filters, the brews can sometimes be a bit on the bitter side.

Who Should Go for Cone Coffee Filters?

If you prefer a stronger and more full-bodied cup of coffee, a cone filter is a good choice. To prevent landing up with bitter brews, opt for a lighter roast.

Who Should Go for Flat Bottom Coffee Filters?

Flat bottom filters produce a milder cup of coffee than cone filters. If you prefer your brews this way, opt for a coffee maker or pour over that takes a flat bottom coffee filter.

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