Filter coffee can be excellent, but are bleached or unbleached filter papers best?

Bleached pros:

  • The paper is whiter and looks more hygienic (it's not more hygienic, it just looks whiter!) That's it - there are no other benefits whatsoever.
  • Bleaching not only removes the natural brown colouration but also any residual 'papery' flavours which can leech into the brewed coffee - but not many people would spot this slight taint.

Bleached cons:

  • Chlorine is still used as bleaching agent although that's being phased out and more environmentally friendly oxygen bleaching is quite common.
  • The bleaching process uses energy.

Our verdict:

We buy chlorine free bleached papers because we do notice the papery taint in unbleached filter papers (and so might you) and because we dislike environmentally damaging industrial processes. When we're done we pop the paper complete with coffee grounds straight into the compost bin where they break down and the residual nutrients feed the soil.

We like the mantra 'reuse, recycle or don't use' so we have a Bodum dripper with a permanent micro-perforated stainless steel filter cone and it's excellent. There are plenty of brands to choose from apart from Bodum and there are loads of standalone stainless steel filer units that sit on top of your cup.