Plastic vs. Paper vs. Cloth vs. Stainless Steel Coffee Filters

Plastic vs. Stainless Steel vs. Cloth vs. Paper Coffee Filters

Coffee filters are an essential part of making great coffee. They keep grounds in the filter, which helps prevent grit and bitter flavors from getting into your cup. However, there is a lot of debate over which type of coffee filter is better—plastic, paper, cloth, or stainless steel. From easier clean-up to environmental benefits to better-tasting coffee, we recommend using compostable paper filters, such as the Big Joe Extra Large Coffee Filters. However, there are pros and cons to each style of coffee filter. In this article, we break down the benefits of plastic, paper, cloth, and metal coffee filters to help you make your decision easier.

Plastic Basket Coffee Filters 

Plastic basket coffee filters, typically with fine mesh, are convenient and eco-friendly because they allow you to reuse them multiple times. A plastic basket will generally keep your coffee clean and free of grinds. However, the taste will be less full compared to paper coffee filters and some very small grinds/grit can come through. Low-quality plastic may also result in chemicals seeping into your drink. This type of filter makes cleaning up much harder than paper since it’s not disposable. You can find them in most grocery stores, but if you want to save some cash, you can buy one online. We recommend trying out the GoldTone Reusable 4 Cup Basket Mr. Coffee Replacement Coffee Filter with Mesh Bottom if you want to use a plastic mesh coffee filter.

Stainless Steel Basket Coffee Filters

If you need a permanent solution, consider using a stainless steel coffee filter. They won’t break down like mesh and paper filters do, so they’ll last forever. These filters are fairly easy to clean and reusable. Some types can have rather large drainage holes so you may find more grounds/grit in your cup than with paper or mesh. However, if you prefer to use a stainless steel basket, you won’t have to worry about a full cleaning after each use. Just shake out the grinds, rinse it off under hot water, and then let it air dry. If a metal coffee filter is up your alley, we recommend trying the Barista Warrior. Be sure to find a model that snugly fits in your coffee maker to prevent grind spillage over the sides.

Cloth Coffee Filters

Cloth coffee filters are an eco-friendly alternative to paper filters. They are also more effective at removing unwanted particles from your coffee. Cloth coffee filters remove more sediment and other impurities from your coffee than metal or plastic filters. This means that you will enjoy a cleaner cup of coffee every time you brew with them. You can use cloth coffee filters for any type of beverage you make. Whether you are brewing coffee, tea, hot cocoa, or milk, these filters work well for all of them. If you want to switch to cloth coffee filters, try out the Bolio Organic Hemp Reusable Coffee Filter.

Paper Coffee Filters

Compared to plastic filters, there are two main differences. First, paper is the finest grade filter and absorbs oils and other compounds that make coffee bitter. This means that they will hold back all of the coffee grinds and make better-tasting, no grit coffee. Studies have also shown that paper filters also reduce the natural cholesterol found in coffee, making it a healthier cup. Second, paper filters are biodegradable, while plastic and metal ones aren’t. Using paper filters is the easiest method of clean-up, as the grinds will cling to the paper and dump right out into the trash. Paper filters are also multi-taskers in the kitchen and work well for draining yogurt, lint-free window cleaning and craft projects. 

If you want to use paper filters, you should buy them from a store that sells coffee supplies, as the paper is usually a better grade and will fit your maker better than generic retail store versions. You’ll also find them in most grocery stores, drugstores, and big box retailers. Our suggestion? Try the Big Joe Extra Large Coffee Filters. They have extra tall-walls to prevent spillover, are bio-degradable and compostable, fit most 10 & 12 cup coffee makers, as well as our very own Big Joe Coffee Maker.


Just like picking your coffee bean or coffee maker, choosing the right coffee filter for you will make the brewing process easier and your cup of joe tastier. Make sure to do your research and decide which option is right for you and how you make coffee. However, if you want ease of use and versatility, try out our Big Joe Extra Large Coffee Filters

Want more tips on brewing barista-quality coffee? Check out the rest of the articles on our blog.

Please note that Big Joe receives a small commission from sales of certain items linked in this article.

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