When it comes to manual pour over coffee, there are two main types of filters used: cloth filters that are traditionally used in chorreador brewers, and standard paper filters used in devices like the V60 or Chemex.
But what exactly sets these two filter materials apart in terms of performance and final cup profile? Below we dive into the key distinctions that matter most to coffee lovers.
Cloth Filters Used in ChorreadorsA chorreador is a simple manual coffee brewing device popular in Costa Rica consisting of a wooden or metal stand that holds a cloth filter. Hot water is slowly poured over the grounds, then drained into a carafe or serving vessel below. The cloth material catches grounds while allowing flavorful compounds through.
As a reusable material, cloth chorreador filters are extremely sustainable and environmentally friendly. With proper care, they can be used consistently for years without needing replacement.
The cotton and hemp fabrics used allow beneficial coffee oils, extra fine grounds particles, and insoluble sediments to flow into your final brew. This can lend a perceived richness and wholeness of flavor.
Natural cloth mesh maintains proper water flow rate and absorption time for ideal extraction compared to some paper filters.
When kept clean, cloth imparts no strange tastes or odors even after years of repeated use. These filters can produce consistent tasting coffee time and time again.
Cloth filters permits extra fine grounds and grit through which settle at the bottom of your cup. Those sensitive to texture may find this unpleasant.
While reusable, cloth material requires meticulous, timely care to prevent clogging or buildup of rancid oils that taint future brews with off-putting tastes.
Depending on the roast and grind size, a cloth chorreador filter can facilitate over-extraction of certain batches of coffee. Without tuning other parameters, results may taste muddled.
Paper Filters for Pour OversPre-shaped disposable paper filters are specially designed for pour over drippers like the ceramic V60 or plastic Clever Dripper. There is no standard material, with some made from bleached paper, unbleached natural fiber, and even metal-mesh hybrids.
Specially engineered for their particular coffee maker shapes, paper pour over filters provide foolproof simple use and tidy cleanup. Just place, brew, and toss when done. No washing necessary.
Paper excellently screens out fine coffee particles and oily compounds that some drinkers feel detracts from a clean aftertaste. You're left with pure, transparent coffee free of any grit or weight.
Certain natural fiber paper filters may subtly complement fruity coffees by absorbing and retaining certain organic acids and compounds.
There's no build up of old grounds, stains, or rancid oils that can happen over time with reusable filter materials like cloth or metal. You start fresh every time.
ConsThe amount of waste produced by throwing out paper filters with every use is environmentally problematic for regular coffee drinkers. Hundreds of filters per year may end up in landfills.
By absorbing more oils and soluble elements, paper filters can strip away some of coffee's flavorful complexity and aromatic qualities that cloth retains.
Some find that paper clogs or chokes too easily part way through a pour compared to cloth, causing slower water drainage or uneven extraction.
Over time the cost replacing paper filters continually can add up compared to a one-time purchase of long lasting reusable cloth or metal mesh filters.
Cloth or Paper?
At the end of the day, personal preference for cup profile and convenience is what matters most when choosing between a cloth chorreador vs paper pour over filter. Devotees of cloth praise its sustainability, ease of use, and fuller, rounder flavor that they feel brings out coffee's deepest essence.
Paper fans value an ultra clean cup that allows pure tasting clarity to shine through from light to dark roasts alike. Part of the fun is experimentation to discover which camp your tastes place you in.
With a bit of trial and error, you'll discover which filter material best suits your individual coffee sensibilities.