The AeroPress is a revelation among coffee aficionados—period! Prior to 2005 (when the AeroPress was invented by Alan Adler), claiming that a dinky $30 “plunger” would drive the coffee world crazy would have been viewed as laughable!
Nowadays, the ingenious AeroPress has achieved an almost cult-like following, with some users even claiming that it brews the best coffee in the world. Whether such claims can be substantiated or not, it can’t be denied that the AeroPress is a hit. Such is its popularity that it boasts of a highly competitive and prestigious global competition—the World AeroPress Championship (WAC).
The beauty of the AeroPress primarily lies in its simple yet versatile functionality. Craving an espresso-like cuppa? The AeroPress has you covered! In the mood for iced coffee to keep away the scorching summer sun? There’s an AeroPress recipe for that. However, the AeroPress’s versatility goes beyond brewing methods to include accessories and attachments that extend its functionality.
In this post, we’ll focus on aftermarket AeroPress filters. Why? Well, because the filter is arguably one of the most important, yet overlooked components of any brewing method. In particular, we’ll make a case for metal filters—including a hands-on (perhaps more of *tongues-on*) taste test of the different aftermarket options available.
Paper Vs Metal Filters for the AeroPress
As the last component that touches your coffee before it christens your taste buds, the role of a filter in the coffee-making process cannot be understated. With this in mind, coffee lovers typically consider two options – paper or metal filters. Which is better for AeroPress brewing?
Ah, yes…the age-old debate splits the coffee world into two tribes – metal vs paper coffee filters. While some vouch for the tried-and-tested paper filters, the voices of people on the “metal filters” camp have been getting louder in recent years.
As highlighted below, metal and paper filters are inherently different from each other in a few different ways:
- Environment (Sustainability): Based on eco-friendliness, metal filters come out as the clear winners. Sure, paper filters can be composted—but how many of you living in a city find that practical? Additionally, many paper filters (like those included with the AeroPress) are bleached using chemicals.
- Taste: Metal filters typically result in more flavorful and thicker mouthfeel—owing to the natural oils and micro-grounds that otherwise are filtered out by the paper filter. On the other hand, paper filters are better for drinkers who prefer a clean, bright, crisp, and light coffee, with few dregs. As since taste is a highly subjective topic, the jury is out on this one.
- Cost: Single-use, a paper filter is certainly cheaper than a metal filter—with the latter retailing for approximately $5-$60, compared to the former’s $0.01-$0.10. However, keep in mind that a single metal filter can serve you for up to 7 years—while a paper filter is single-use. If you run the math for multiple cups per day, you’ll realize that metal filters are cheaper in the long run.
- Health: Metal filters tend to allow oily substance known as diterpenes into your brew. According to some studies, these compounds hinder your body’s ability to regulate cholesterol levels.
So, where do you pledge your allegiance? Paper filters or metal filters?
Although an AeroPress comes packed with a bunch of paper filters, we understand that not everyone is on team “paper filter.” Luckily, tons of replacement metal filters are available after-market, such as the Able Disk Fine Filter, the Café Concetto Fine Filter, or the Koffi Mesh Filter (Spoiler alert: We reviewed these three metal filters below!).
How do the Different AeroPress Metal Filters Compare?
For something so seemingly straightforward, finding the best coffee filter for your brewing technique or taste can be quite confusing. To make the decision easier, we did a taste test of different AeroPress metal filters available for purchase online!
- Able Disk Fine Filter – $19 or £16 on Amazon
- Café Concetto Fine Filter – $22 or £18 on Amazon
- Koffi Mesh Filter – $8 or £6.99 on Amazon
- Traditional Paper Filter (control brew)
To ensure the test was fair between all the “contestant” filters, we used the exact same recipe across the board. Our recipe of choice—and one of our favorites—was adopted from that of non-other than the reigning (i.e., as at the time this article was written) WAC champion, Wendelien van Bunnik.
However, we slightly adapted it to cater to our differing brewing requirements—including the use of metal filters rather than rinsed Aesir filter, one-cup serving, and a short bloom phase.
- Coarsely-ground Costa Rican coffee – 16 grams per cup
- Water – 60 grams at 93°C
- AeroPress – using the Inverted method
- Pour the 60 grams of hot water onto the coffee grounds.
- After ensuring all the grounds were submerged, we set a timer for roughly 30 seconds (PS: You can take this time to enjoy the aroma of the brew).
- Pour another 40 grams of water—now totaling 100 grams.
- Stir the mixture vigorously 20 times.
- Cap the AeroPress after attaching the respective filter – i.e., Café Concetto, Able Disk Fine, Koffi Mesh Filter, or the control paper filter.
- Remove the air by gently pressing down on the cap.
- Wait for 40 seconds.
- Flip the AeroPress and start pressing. We prefer a slow press allowing us to bask in the experience.
- Finally, add 120 grams of water to dilute.
- Let the taste testing begin!
Our Results and Verdict!
Using the paper filter for the control brew went just as expected. The resulting cup was clean and light as most of the undertones were scrapped by the paper. Now, let’s see how this control brew compared to the AeroPress metal filters.
- Able Disk Fine Filter
The packaging of the Able Disk Fine was more aesthetically-appealing and environmentally friendlier than the Café Concetto. However, it was noticeably thinner and it could bend a bit more than the Café Concetto. It’s also worth noting that the Able Disk has more and smaller holes than the Café Concetto—which had fewer, larger holes.
For our taste test, we noticed that there were fine sediments in the brew and some grounds on the bottom—despite using a coarse grind. The Able Disk Fine filter did, however, bring out the fruity notes of the coffee beans, a testament to the ability of the filter to allow oils to pass through.
- Café Concetto Fine Filter:
The Café Concetto lends itself to the whole “sustainable” vibe right from start—courtesy of its raw cardboard packaging. However, the actual disk was wrapped in plastic, taking away some eco-friendliness points. The package also came with an AeroPress recipe printed on a small card. Regarding durability, the Café Concetto is quite thick and doesn’t bend easily.
The cup had fine sediments—similar to the Able Disk—but it oddly didn’t have grounds at the bottom. The tasting notes of the brew were characterized by a thick and smooth mouthfeel, rich taste, and a full body – similar to the Able Disk.
- Koffi Mesh Filter
Unlike the Able Disk and Café Concetto, the Koffi uses a metal gauze – whereas the other two are single pieces of metal with fine holes drilled into them. Keep in mind that this filter does not include a recipe with its packaging as seen in the other metal filters.
Impressively, the cup had little-to-no sediments. If anything, it was almost as clean as the control paper brew. The coffee was also noticeably stronger and richer than the other metal filters—yet nearly as clean as the paper filters. It seems the Koffi Mesh Filter kept grinds at bay while allowing oils to pass through. This created a balanced cup with the clean finish of a paper filter and the richness of a metal filter.
If we were hard-pressed to pick a winner, we’d have to go with the Koffi Mesh Filter for two main reasons. It’s the most affordable at $8 and it doesn’t let through any dregs whatsoever.
Although there were subtle differences, the metal didn’t seem to significantly influence the taste of the brew too significantly. Depending on your personal preferences, the fact that the Café Concetto and Able Disk let through fine grounds/sediments may (or not) be a deal-breaker. But if you really want to give these two a try, consider using a coarser grind than usual.
All in all, metal filters are a welcome component of the AeroPress—owing to their sustainability.