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Tasty and Compostable: Guide to Paper Coffee Filters

July 12, 2021

For a lot of people, their morning starts with a cup of warm coffee. Some use an automatic coffee machine, some a french press, and others also a regular filter to brew it. There are several different ways to provide the energy you need to start right into the day.

With the daily brewing of your cup of happiness, you might ask yourself how this process can be made as green as possible. While we have already covered the recycling of coffee grounds in another article, we want to focus now on brewing coffee using a paper filter.



  1. How a coffee filter works
  2. Why size matters
  3. Get the right flavor
  4. Boil your coffee grounds right
  5. Coffee filters versus coffee holders
  6. Reusable filters are a better alternative
  7. Why coffee filters are compostable
  8. Conclusion


Before we deep-dive into a highly ecological use of coffee filters, we want to make sure that you know how to brew your coffee perfectly with coffee filters.


How a coffee filter works

Coffee coming out of the paper filter is more gentle than other brewing methods. It filters out the coffee oils. You can quickly try out the taste difference by using the same coffee grounds in a paper filter and a french press. In many cases, the paper filter has a not-so-bitter taste compared to its competitors.

It is a unique experience to brew a tasteful coffee with a coffee filter. To do this, place the filter holder on the mug or cup and insert the appropriate filter paper. Many filter bags have a unique edge that you have to fold over to fit nicely into the holder.


Why size matters

The correct size of the filter holder and the filter bag is necessary and here is why: If you bought filter bags that are too large, fold the edges further. If your filter bags are too small, buy new ones because coffee filter bags that are too small can quickly collapse when you pour in the water. 

As an example, Hario and Chemex offer filter bags accordingly to their equipment. Note the ratio of the coffee filter to the coffee filter so that good coffee can be secured for the future. 

Everything is a matter of practice. If you use a filter holder that is too small, there will not be enough space for the water, and you will have to refill too often. If the filter holder is too large, you are using too much water to pour the coffee powder optimally. It is much easier to make a good coffee with the correct size. 

Write down the amount of coffee you want to prepare. Select the appropriate filter holder accordingly to the amount. The matching filter paper should hug the inside wall of the filter holder perfectly when it is wet. The water hits the ground coffee through the pores of the paper and dissolves its soluble components. The concrete coffee grounds remain in the filter, and you get a wonderfully aromatic coffee.


Get the right flavor

A mount for a paper filter or coffee holder is easy to carry around, and some coffee drinkers find it more suitable to carry around. Regardless of whether it is a classic hand filter, a Chemex filter, or a Bodum Pour Over filter: We suggest briefly rinse the filter paper with boiling water before brewing the coffee. This will remove the flavors from the paper filter.

The shape of the filter also influences the taste of the coffee. The curved grooves ensure that the coffee is extracted evenly. Various manufacturers offer great products to support this effect. The Hario V60 also has a more massive hole than the other filters and therefore improves the water flow. How you fold the paper filter depends on the filter in question.


Boil your coffee grounds right

If the filter holder is on the mug, the water will also preheat your mug. Don't forget to pour out the water in the mug afterward. Weigh 60-80 grams (depends on your preferences, of course) of freshly ground coffee per liter of water and put it in the coffee filter bag.

First, pour only a little of the water that is no longer boiling. This gives your coffee powder enough time to swell. It's called blooming. The coffee unfolds its full aroma. Then pour the rest of the water slowly in circular movements. Keep pouring it in up to the limit of a centimeter above the coffee grounds. Enjoy the procedure and your freshly brewed coffee!


Coffee filters versus coffee holders

Not all coffee filters are created equally, especially not coffee filter holders, which can be made out of plastic. The differences start with the material and stop with the manufacturer or the coffee filters size. There is a wide variety of filters available these days.

In general, shopping eco-friendly is not the easiest. When shopping for a coffee filter online, you should know what to look out for. Would you like to buy coffee filter bags or coffee filter holders? Does the splitting of words seem subtle to you? If you aren't aware of it, the difference is essential.

The coffee holder holds the filter bag, as the name suggests. There is no such thing as a coffee filter in the real sense of the word. You filter the coffee with the filter bag, which is why these are often called filters. A filter holder is used to prevent the bag from tipping over. The bags are available in different designs, as are the filter holders.

After covering the ideal use of a coffee paper filter, we will continue with the initial question: How can we use them with the most benefit for our environment?


Reusable filters are a better alternative

There are so-called permanent filters or reusable filters in contrast to the filter holder and filter paper system. They are available for hand filters, Aeropress, and coffee machines. They consist of different materials such as cotton or metal, and there is even a "gold filter". We know brewing coffee with cotton filters is a traditional preparation method that has been learned from Japan since 1920. Reusable coffee filters offer great sustainability benefits. 

Our tip: To find out more about the life cycle assessment, we recommend looking at each product individually. 


Why coffee filters are compostable

Paper filters belong to organic waste and are compostable. This helps to protect the environment, and many garden owners are happy about the excellent compost. Whether you buy paper filters made from recycled paper is a matter of opinion. These are certainly more ecological, but they distort the taste of the coffee. Unbleached filter paper leaves a more excellent taste in coffee than bleached paper. Coffee equipment like the French Press and the Bayreuth jug can do without a separate filter. Here the coffee filters are already integrated into the maker.

In contrast, there is a warning sign you should follow in order to have a compostable coffee filter available. Avoid plastic as much as possible:



In summary, using a reusable filter in comparison to a "single use and throw away" filter has a greener footprint. If you still want to stick to the gentle taste of a paper filter, make sure to recycle it as organic waste.

We wonder if there is anything we missed about brewing your coffee right and composting it with a paper filter. If there is anything else you want to let us know - any other tips or simply sharing your story - feel free to let us know in the comments. As an environmental movement, we often search for ways to provide valuable information for people who are already veterans and also people who just started promoting going green.

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