Gonna keep this one short.

Can we do filter papers better please?

Rinsing paper filters is an obscene waste of water and of energy, not to mention being an additional step in the coffee making workflow.

It takes a lot of power to get water up to around 95C. I’ve seen up to 1L of water being advocated as sufficient to rinse a Chemex filter, perhaps twice as much water as will be used in the brew itself. This is the equivalent of driving a Hummer. At current Irish electricity rates and doing 50 chemexes a day, this practice alone would cost an (approximate) additional €300 per annum in energy costs. Probably won’t put anyone out of business, but it’s so unnecessary. Indirectly you can add in the requirement for a greater capacity boiler due to essentially needing 3 times the capacity – so a more expensive boiler to start with, larger boilers tend to lose more heat (larger surface area) as well and add to the energy cost in that way*.

I do, however, like the cup quality from a good paper filtered brew. I like the cleanliness compared to a (typical) metal or plastic filter, I like the lack of clean up and maintenance compared to cloth. It is a convenient, and adequate quality medium.

Filter papers need not require rinsing. The Kantan filter imparts no great papery flavour. Our batch brew filters impart no great papery flavour (perhaps more due to the ratio of paper to coffee rather than the papers themselves). It is not beyond the capabilities of technology to develop a filter paper which can meet this rather modest goal (a chemex paper made from the Kantan material would be nice).

We should do it better. Let’s.

*you can of course somewhat mitigate this by the fact that it also preheats the receptacle, but preheating should not require as much water.

9 thoughts on “Paper

  1. James Hoffmann says:

    I’m currently of the opinion that much of the time the papery taste is either caused by, or allowed to flourish because of, underextraction.

  2. mh… so I have to say that I don’t like the paper taste at all (especially the chemex one is very intensive). Maybe we should use paper from tea bags… I have actually no idea how to change paper produktion. But I solved the water-waste-problem in some way; I reuse it not for pouring my coffee, but for pouring my flowers and my kitchen herbs.

  3. Ziad says:

    In some part of the world, a person could get killed for wasting 1 ltr of water just to get rid of paper taste in a cup of coffee ,no offence to any one, this amount of wasted water and energy would save lives ,why not reuse,like Paul is doing,it could be also used for pets,cars window washer…Until technology do something about it !

  4. Bek says:

    I agree – really strongly dislike the paper taste in coffees, tend to avoid V60 as I find them the worst, and have to admit I’m probably very guilty of over-rinsing! Do agree that paper filters could very probably be manufactured better to reduce this, although personally don’t think that they would be best based on the likes of the Kantan – from my experience anyway: while they are great for pouring control etc, have actually found a pretty strong ‘brown paper bag’ aroma and slight taste coming through which is a bit off-putting (could be that this is not from the paper, but the card surround, not sure?).

    Also, have had some decently extracted brews (around 19% extraction) from a V60 and still tasted the paper, even after rinsing – so don’t think underextraction can be blamed entirely.

    I would still be very interested to try a Chemex or V60 compatible filter made from Kantan paper, or alternatives – so if you ever come across any being made, would love to know!

    • Brad says:

      Strange… I have found V60 filter paper to be the least intrusive. Aside from Melitta papers, I feel that Chemex imparts the most paper flavor, and Kantan imparts zero paper taste. I guess it is just my palate. It would be interesting to know why companies such as Hario or Kalita have yet to introduce Kantan-esque filter papers. Are they unaware of the demand? Would the filter be to fragile for general use and thus be unmarketable?

  5. Ed Buston says:

    If you use a liter of water to flush a filter paper in our place then you also have to consider our Reverse Osmosis system (currently on trial) which will pump over a liter of water down the drain whilst it makes it. The things we do/waste to optimise our coffee taste really do add up…

    On second thoughts one could save the waste water and serve it up as drinking water…. that would be carbon treated uber mineral water!

  6. ryan says:

    a rinse can double as a pre-heat of brewing device, so it really doesn’t seem like such an “obscene” waste to me.

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