Chemex: Reusable Metal Filter Vs Paper Filters

Metal and paper filters for Chemex seem to work using the same technique. However, the two coffee filters, reusable metal filter vs paper filters, are significantly different. Read on to find out more.

reusable metal filter vs paper filters
Reusable Metal Filter vs Paper Filters

There are coffee lovers and then there are coffee fanatics who love the joy of brewing their cuppa in a chemical apparatus-designed coffeemaker. Yes, we are talking about Chemex and the thrill of turning your kitchen into a lab with these intelligent-looking devices. Besides the intriguing design, another much talked about feature of the Chemex is the type of filter they use.

Although the debate about which type of filter is the best has been ongoing since no one knows when Chemex filters are a different ballgame altogether. They were invented to be the cleanest and most neutral filters to give you a brilliant cup of Chemex coffee. But there again, the fans are divided into two parts – the ones that prefer metal filters and those who vouch for paper ones.

In this post, let’s take a closer look at the primary differences in the morning cuppa produced by using both these types of Chemex filters. We will then delve deeper into which one is better in terms of taste, texture, ease of use, and so on. Assuming that some readers are new to Chemex coffee makers, first, let’s take a look at the two filters before discussing their differences.

Metal and paper filters for Chemex seem to work using the same technique. However, the two coffee filters are significantly different. Read on to find out more.

ABLE KONE reusable filter
ABLE KONE reusable filter

Environment-conscious users prefer the metal filters for Chemex instead of using the basic paper filters. While the ABLE KONE reusable filter appears to be an ideal solution to stop wasting papers, the resulting beverage leaves a lot missing in terms of taste, flavor, and texture.

The holes in metal filters made from stainless steel material are really tiny but they can’t stop the sediments like a paper filter.

Oils and lots of fine coffee sediments easily pass through the filter papers resulting in a bigger mouthfeel and less crisp flavor. You can expect to get a chewier feel, which some people may appreciate while others find offensive.

The Chemex purists may not approve of this because the whole point of using Chemex to get a cleaner cuppa is lost.

Metal filters such as Able Kone are good at brewing naturally processed coffees, while paper filters do a good job at brewing bright-tasting coffees. Some people even go to the extent of calling Able Kone comprising of tiny holes in the body a brewer in itself, instead of a filter.

Nevertheless, they are designed to perfectly fit into Chemex cone but you may practically use them with anything that supports it.

The biggest advantage of using the reusable metal filters is perhaps hidden in its name and that is – reusable. Unlike a paper filter, you don’t need to discard them. They can be cleaned and reused as many times as you want to reduce the cost of stocking filters and also decrease the carbon footprint.

They come handy when you are traveling and don’t want to miss your coffee because you ran out of paper filters.

Paper Filter For Chemex

paper chemex filter
Paper filter in a Chemex results in beverages to taste cleaner and crispier

The beauty of Chemex coffee lies in its simplicity and the way it can be made with only coffee grounds, paper filters, and water. It’s an entire system designed to give you a crisp and cleaner cup of Joe. The standard Chemex paper filters are 20 to 30 percent thicker than the basic filters used in the pour-over-coffee styles.

A well-prepared cup of Chemex coffee using paper filters should contain no sediments. The texture is crisp and light with a set of floral notes. If you look at paper filters for Chemex, you can find two different types of them – pre-folded paper filters and unfolded half-moon filters.

The pre-folded paper filters are cone-shaped and they fit almost all types of coffeemakers. Their unique design helps with uniform extraction and gives you the cleanest coffee flavor. As these paper filters are made from specialty fiber, it keeps away the bitter elements such as fine coffee grounds and oils.

Thus, the resulting beverage tastes cleaner and crisp.

The paper filters may come pre-folded for ease of use or unfolded half-moon varieties that need to be folded before use. Filters made from paper are meant for single use only, although some people may wash and reuse them a few more times, although this compromises the taste.

biggest disadvantage of using paper filters is that they cost a lot in the long run and have a negative impact on the environment. 

Difference Between Reusable Metal Filter And Paper Filter For Chemex

Now that we have understood the two types of filters as individuals, let us dive into their differences. To do that, we will look at the different aspects of the paper filters.


This is one of the most outstanding differences between a metal and a paper filter for Chemex. As the name suggests, the metal filter is reusable for several years. For the paper filter, however, once you use it, it goes straight to waste.

Some people may use it for a second time after washing but this can impact the taste and flavor. This takes us to the next difference, which is the cost.


Ideally, metal filters cost more when initially getting them from the store. However, the cost is neutralized by their shelf life and reusable nature. On the other hand, Chemex paper filters are cheaper but their cost accumulates since you have to keep buying them.

Therefore, if you are looking for a long time financial cutting, a metal filter will be more functional. However, in case you are working on a budget, you may go for the paper filter for the time being.


Is there a difference between the taste of coffee passed through a metal filter and one passed through a paper filter? Yes, there is a big difference, which we will explain.

First, metal filters are made of metal including, gold and steel. This metal is nonabsorbent, as such; it does not absorb the oils and flavors of coffee. Therefore, when you filter your coffee using a metal filter, the brew is usually fuller with all the oils.

The taste of this coffee is, therefore, stronger, bolder, and richer with flavors and oils.

When using filter papers, they tend to absorb and filter oils of coffee as well as grounds. As such, the coffee that results is a cleaner brew with reduced oils and cholesterol. The taste of this coffee is lighter and brightly flavored compared to the one from the metal filter.

This explains why paper filters are used to brew a cleaner thinner cup of coffee in a Chemex.

Second, depending on the size of the holes on the metal filter, the coffee may have a bitter taste. When using the standard metal filter with large holes, more grounds of coffee pass through resulting in a bitter taste and sedimentation in your mug. For paper filters, they trap most of the sediments and you do not have to worry about your coffee being bitter.

Environmental Impact

As mentioned above, metal filters are more environmentally friendly since they are re-usable. Other than that, paper filters for Chemex, especially those that are bleached using chlorine, pollute the environment when they are disposed of. Therefore, if you are looking to protect the environment, which is highly recommended, the best choice is to use a metal filter.


Many of the advantages of metal coffee filters are dependent on its reusable and long-lasting nature. However, if you are to maintain your coffee filter, you will have to clean it.

When it comes to cleaning coffee filters, paper filters for Chemex have a great advantage. The thing is, after using paper filters, all you have to do is fold it properly with the grounds and dispose of it just like any other kitchen waste. Simple!

This is not the case with metal filters. First, you have to dispose of the coffee grounds, and then rinse the stubborn grounds from the filters. As simple as it may sound, removing stubborn grounds from metal filters can be a piece of work.

Once all the grounds are out, you can now clean the filter with soap or a towel and rinse it. Occasionally, you may have to put it into a dishwasher for efficient cleaning and preparing it for use on the next brewing.

Health Impact

Just as a coin has two sides, coffee has its advantages and disadvantages. Looking at the disadvantages, coffee contains cafestol, which increases the level of cholesterol in your body.

When using a paper coffee filter, the filter absorbs the cafestol and the resultant coffee is clean and low in cholesterol. As such, researchers have found out that drinking coffee filtered using paper filters is safer for your health as compared to one passed through metal filters.

Metal filters allow the cafestol to pass through. This means that coffee passed through a metal filter contains high levels of cholesterol that are harmful to your health.

That said, using a paper filter is not completely safe. Bleached coffee filters add to the levels of toxins in your body. This happens when the chlorine used leeches your coffee and builds up as TCDD, which are toxins in your body. These toxins also affect your health.

Therefore when it comes to your health, both choices have health consequences, you just have to choose what sails your boat.

Similarities Between Metal And Paper Filters For Chemex

a coffee man with chemex
Metal and Paper Filters have distinct similarities

Even with their outstanding differences, one of the similarities between these two coffee filters is that they both perform the same function. They help remove the leftover coffee grounds from your brew. If you were to drink the coffee with the extra grounds, you would feel them in your drink since they have not dissolved and your drink would be bitter.

The similarity of these two filters lays in their primary function.

How To Use A Paper Filter For Chemex

As mentioned above the primary function of the coffee filter is to trap the excess grounds in your brew. The following is a step-to-step guide of using a paper filter.

  1. Fold the filter paper in a half. Fold the half into another half and bring the corners together. Placing your 3rd and 4th finger between the halves, open the paper filter into a funnel
  2. Place the funnel on the coffee maker with 3 layers of the paper laying on the pouring spout of the Chemex
  3. Pour some water on the paper filter if you are using the unbleached filter. Pour the collected water
  4. Place your preferred amount of coffee grounds on the filter
  5. Depending on the number of grounds placed, pour hot water on the grounds.
  6. Softly stir the mixture and allows the coffee to collect in the coffee maker.
  7. Serve your coffee when hot and add a sweetener of your choice.

How To Use A Metal Filter

The following is the procedure of brewing using a metal filter

  1. Heat some water and bring it to a boil. Allow the water to stand for about a minute.
  2. Insert the metal filter in the Chemex.
  3. Pour the hot water on the Chemex through the metal filter. Do this to rinse the Chemex and filter as well as preheating them
  4. Pour some coffee grounds on the filter
  5. Pour hot water on the grounds making sure that they are saturated. When pouring water, pour a reasonable amount and make sure it does not dilute the strength of the coffee grounds
  6. Allow all the coffee to drain.
  7. Serve your coffee hot and stay caffeinated!


Related Questions

What is the cost of paper filters and metal filters?

Paper filters usually cost between $0.01 and $0.10. Considering the fact that they are meant for single use and assuming that you brew at least one cup of coffee every day, these paper filters may cost up to $36.50 per year.

The figure can easily double up if you drink mid-day or like a cup of coffee in the evening too. The metal filters cost between $5 and $60 and they last up to 7 years. So, a year’s cost would be around $9.

What’s the best way to clean the metal filters?

The puck in the Chemex metal filters should be thrown away after every use and the filter should be washed with warm water and some liquid soap. The tiny holes often get stuck up with the fine coffee grounds making it difficult for the liquid to pass through.

To deep clean and open-up the holes, we suggest that you soak it in a solution of one part distilled white vinegar and two parts of water. If you don’t have time to soak, take a little baking soda on a brush and scrub gently.

Is brown paper filter different from white?

There’s only a slight difference between the two. Both are made of similar types of materials, but the white filter undergoes an oxidizing cleansing bath followed by hot water baths. The brown paper skips the oxidization process and only does the hot water bath, hence it has a natural color.

It’s just a matter of preference. Some people like to have the brown filter while others like oxidized ones. Similarly, some people like circle filters with round edges while others like square paper filters with conical edges.


Are paper filters better than their metal counterparts?

The paper filters made from high-quality laboratory-grade paper are specially designed to keep out the impurities, acidity, and bitter elements from the coffee. The metal filters are capable of giving you a full flavor of the beans with some sediments and oils.

Some people believe that it’s just a misconception that metal filters give a stronger flavored java.


Do I need to pre-wet the Chemex filter?

While the makers don’t suggest this step, some people believe it is necessary. Pre-wetting the paper filters help in washing out the impurities over the surface, and dunking a metal filter in hot water helps in heating it up.

What type of coffee beans are best for Chemex?

Regardless of whether you use a metal or paper filter, all types of light, medium, and dark roasts do a good job of delivering a full-bodied flavor. It can also be used for filtering tea.

What is the ideal grind size for Chemex?

In order to get the best flavors, we suggest that you prevent having too much sediment in the cup and for this, you need a medium-coarse grind size. If the grounds are too fine then it would lead to over-extraction and if they are too big then this would result in under-extraction.


  • Aisling O'Connor

    Aisling is an Irish food and drinks writer and journalist fueled by coffee and herbal tea. She followed up her journalism degree with nutrition studies. Find Aisling on LinkedIn.