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What is the Difference Between Bleached and Unbleached Filter Papers?

Coffee filters are an indispensable piece of kit when it comes to brewing coffee. Sure, they're small, made of paper, and cost almost nothing, but without the humble paper filter, your morning coffee brewing ritual will be a bit of a hassle.

Most of the best coffee machines use paper #filters, but should you buy bleached or unbleached ones?

Choosing bleached or unbleached filters and which is the best is an ongoing debate with coffee aficionados around the world.

There are many people who make coffee using nothing more than unbleached #coffee filters and of course as you can imagine there are those on the other side of the fence who believe that bleached filters are the best and just say it's out there. there is no difference between the two.

We'll point out some notable differences and whether coffee filters really affect the flavor of your cup of coffee. After reading this, you should have answered your questions whether white or brown coffee filters are better or if there is any difference between them!

Why Is Paper Bleached?

Before we dig any deeper, we thought it would be a good idea to understand why coffee filters are bleached.

Believe it or not, paper filters are bleached purely for cosmetic reasons, for no other use.

I guess they look cleaner when they're white versus brown, no other benefit. Although brown paper looks less pristine, it is just as hygienic as white.

How to Bleach Coffee Filters?

Where the problem arises when it comes to bleached filters is how they are made.

Factories that manufacture bleached filters use several different bleaching methods, such as chlorine chemicals, which have harmful effects on the environment (chlorine bleaching is the second largest pollutant in the paper industry after the actual pulp production process)

The good news is that in the western part of the world, almost all bleaching practices are gradually becoming obsolete in favor of alternative bleaching methods that do not burden the environment, such as hydrogen peroxide and oxygen.

Scandinavia (a major pulp producing country), for example, has replaced the chlorine treatment with more environmentally friendly methods such as oxygen bleaching.

Big coffee filter companies like Hario and Matilda listen to consumers and have been the driving force behind more environmentally friendly processing methods, now making it easier for consumers to choose whether their filters are oxygen-bleached or not.

If you prefer a white coffee filter over a brown one, be sure to look for filters that say "#TCF" on the packaging; this means the paper is 100% bleached without chlorine.

The high-quality stainless steel coffee filter is 100% reusable and allows more oil to pass through compared to a paper filter, giving you a more robust and flavorful cup of coffee.

You'll also save money by not buying paper filters!

Effect of Bleached or Unbleached Coffee Filters on Taste

While many may disagree, we must say that there is no difference in taste between bleached and unbleached filters.

For the average, everyday coffee drinker, the difference will be minimal. Coffee aficionados with a seasoned taste may find that unbleached filters give off a light papery flavor, but this can almost be eliminated if the filter is pre-moistened before use (this is standard practice with pouring methods and this is what you should do).

But yes, there is a but, some coffee filter brands process their filters differently, and many of the cheaper brands unfortunately combine old bleaching methods with poor quality pulp, which can adversely affect the taste.

Oxygen-bleached filters are the best choice if you want to make sure you taste clean. Just read the label, don't forget to look for "TCF" on the packaging.

To Bleach or Not to Bleach – Which Filter Is Best?

After reading this, we're sure you have an opinion on whether white or brown coffee filters are better, if you're still confused, here are a few final words.

Unbleached, brown coffee filters may very little “affect” the taste of your coffee, which, to be honest, will be almost unstable to many of you reading this article. Rinse your filter twice if you're worried that your coffee might have a papery taste.

Bleached filters must go through some sort of chemical process to make them white, unfortunately, some of these bleaching processes involve the use of toxic chemicals. For an environmentally responsible choice, you should choose bleached filters with the chlorine-free TCF label.

In the great discussion of bleached and unbleached paper coffee filters, it really depends on your preferences, taste or environmental impact.

Remember that paper filter quality is important! A cheaper bleached coffee filter will give your coffee as papery a taste as a high-quality unbleached filter.

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At the end of the day, life is too short, enjoy your coffee with brown or white or better yet why not use a permanently reusable coffee filter instead!


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