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Thread: Aeropress and the dreaded metal/paper filter battle: what is the truth?

  1. #1
    Junior Member DavidJJ's Avatar
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    Aeropress and the dreaded metal/paper filter battle: what is the truth?

    Hi everyone,

    being that I started playing with the aeropress just recently (I come from an Italian family and Moka is still all the rage in my house most of the time) I wanted to ask you fellow CSers for an advice.
    What is the best filter to use for this device?

    I found entire blogs and youtube videos singing the qualities of the able metal filter and just as much stating it is a complete piece of...ehm...useless metal (to paraphrase it) and that nothing is better than the paper.

    I found that the use of one over the other does not affect the flavour at all for me, as other sources are stating. Certainly with the metal filter I tend to find more ground particles in my cup (for the aeropress I am grinding just finer than I would for the drip), whereas that does not happen with the paper one.

    What is your opinion / what do you usually use?

  2. #2
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    I did use paper and now use Able. There is a flavour and mouthfeel difference and I prefer Able
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  3. #3
    Senior Member Magic_Matt's Avatar
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    I'd say there is no "best," just different, and will depend largely on the result you're aiming for.

    Day to day I use Able fine filter; no grounds make it through but then I'm using a Comandante grinder and sieving with a Kruve - so I'd be concerned if there were any fines making it through 😉

    OTOH everyone at the NSW Aeropress championship was using paper filters as far as I could tell.

  4. #4
    CoffeeSnobs Owner Andy's Avatar
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    My Aeropress has been all over the country and around the world a few times and it is only ever packed with the Able. I think I have a 10 year old, 3/4 packet of papers somewhere.

    Yes, more fines come through but I'm okay with that. The improvement in body is worth a small spot of mud in the bottom of the cup.

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    The fine filter gives less "bits" but is slightly more fragile (thin, you could possible bend it) and I like the standard.

    I also suspect that you were watching American content on youtube. Our friends over there have grown-up on paper filters and expect the same from an Aeropress. The rest of the planet have different expectations so I won't be surprised if you find most Aussies prefer the stainless filters.
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  5. #5
    Senior Member LeroyC's Avatar
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    Great question.

    In my opinion one is not better than the other, they are just different. But they are different enough that I can certainly understand if people have strong preferences one way or the other. I actually use both. I have 2 APs - one at home and one at work. I've got a metal filter at work that I use there and I use paper filters most of the time at home.

    I've tried a few different metal filters and the ONLY one I like is the Kaffeologie S filter. Even the fancy pants RGB dual layer filter is pretty rubbish IMO compared to the Kaffeologie. When using paper I sometimes do 2 layers and a really short brew ratio and time of say 1:7 in about 90 seconds for a nice strong, flavour full cup. And I always pre-wet any type of filter with hot water.


    (As a side note I just competed in our local regional WAC on Saturday. I was one of only 2 or 3 amateur hacks there on the night. I used my S filter (and the supplied coffee) and made it through to the semi final. In the semi it was actually a 3-way tie according to the judges. The organizer then jumps in to break the deadlock and unfortunately I was knocked out).

  6. #6
    Junior Member DavidJJ's Avatar
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    Thanks everyone for the great suggestions and replies!

    There is so much to try and experiment.

    @Andy: Is that Able filter the same one I found by default in my Aeropress? Is there a way I can identify the "model"?

    @Magic_Matt: I just saw a video of the Kruve. I didn't know about that and I would like to try. How much would you say it improves your brew? Is it worth it?

    @LeroyC: Congrats on that Leroy!! That must have been quite an experience. Is the grinding part particularly important in the contests? I saw a few videos where the participants were hiding the settings they used on the grinders (in that case they were mainly using all Mahlkonigs). Sorry if that's a silly question!

  7. #7
    Senior Member LeroyC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidJJ View Post

    @LeroyC: Congrats on that Leroy!! That must have been quite an experience. Is the grinding part particularly important in the contests? I saw a few videos where the participants were hiding the settings they used on the grinders (in that case they were mainly using all Mahlkonigs). Sorry if that's a silly question!
    Yeah grinding is definitely important. The better the grinder, the better the result you'll get generally (there are exceptions of course). However the grind setting itself is only part of the equation that also includes brew ratio and brew time (and technique to lesser extent). So I don't really see the point in hiding EK grinder settings from other competitors WAC competition. For starters they'd also need to spot your brew ratio and time to complete the puzzle, then they'd need to adjust their own routine on the fly which is just not gonna happen. I'd say there could've been a little bit of theater involved that video you watched.
    The one thing I will say is that seemingly small things can make a big difference. Things like brew time need to be within about a 5-10 second range to repeat an outcome. And brew temp is even tighter if you want to drink it straight away (you can brew at >90deg if you want to, but your coffee will be relatively flavourless until it cools to <80deg). Also I should elaborate on my comment above regarding metal filters. All the ones I tried were fine, none of them were rubbish. The Kaffeologie S filter however is noticeably better IMO. It's almost like you get the best of both worlds as you still get more body than you do with paper filters, but you get a lot more clarity and sweetness than you do with other metal filters.
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  8. #8
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    I've tried most of them and have also settled on the Kaffeologie S filter. However, IMO all of them give comparable results. It is also amazing how many times the paper filter can be rinsed out and reused.

    The Able discs are 6 and 8 micron for the fine and standard discs respectively. The Kaffeologie S is 41 microns. You can now get IMS filters in 150 and 30 microns but I haven't tried those. I think anything under 150 microns will give a clean cup with minimal fines.

    You can find a comparison of the paper, Able Disk Normal, Able Disk Fine and the IMS Superfine Disk on perfectdailygrind. Google The Perfect Daily Grind Aeropress Filter comparison.

    Having said all this Andy's endorsement of the Able filter, through long experience and substantial knowledge, should be given substantial weight.
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  9. #9
    Senior Member Barry O'Speedwagon's Avatar
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    I've used the Able 'fine' for about 4-5 years. Works a treat with a decent grinder.
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  10. #10
    Senior Member matth3wh's Avatar
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    +1 for the Able 'fine'. Never had any trouble with it with regular daily use at home over many months. Also regularly used paper filters at work so no one accidentally throws away the metal one :-)
    Prefer the results from the metal fine filter but not the end of the world using the paper filters.
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  11. #11
    Mal Dimal's Avatar
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    Able "Fine" and "Standard" filters for me too...
    Which one, depends on the coffee I'm using and what sort of a brew I'm in the mood for.
    Like Andy, I'd have to dig around in the back of my coffee cupboard to find the paper filters, but they're in there somewhere.

    Mal.

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    Senior Member Crema_Lad's Avatar
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    Wow just came across this thread and didn't realise the Aeropress was still such a regarded device! There's even state competitions using it?!

    I bought one years ago but it has been gathering dust in a dark corner of the 'if it's not used throw it in here' cupboard :-)

    I think I might need to dust if off and give it a resurrection of sorts, particularly now I have my trusty new Sette 270W grinder at the ready!
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    Senior Member LeroyC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by K_Bean_Coffee View Post
    I'm a paper boy.
    How do you find the time to deliver newspapers as well Paul!!! (Sorry, couldn't help myself ;-P)

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    Aeropress is awesome. I use it most days
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    Senior Member Magic_Matt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Crema_Lad View Post
    Wow just came across this thread and didn't realise the Aeropress was still such a regarded device! There's even state competitions using it?!
    State, National, international...
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  16. #16
    Senior Member greenman's Avatar
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    All the State competitions are being promoted now, they are great events to attend, usually a relaxed fun time with lots of innovative methods!!!
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  17. #17
    Senior Member Crema_Lad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Magic_Matt View Post
    State, National, international...
    Quote Originally Posted by greenman View Post
    All the State competitions are being promoted now, they are great events to attend, usually a relaxed fun time with lots of innovative methods!!!
    Wow!! I had no idea. Yes might be good fun checking one out me thinks
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  18. #18
    Senior Member simonsk8r's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Crema_Lad View Post
    Wow just came across this thread and didn't realise the Aeropress was still such a regarded device! There's even state competitions using it?!

    I bought one years ago but it has been gathering dust in a dark corner of the 'if it's not used throw it in here' cupboard :-)

    I think I might need to dust if off and give it a resurrection of sorts, particularly now I have my trusty new Sette 270W grinder at the ready!
    Ah yeah Aeropress is awesome.. So incredibly versatile and very fun to experiment with.
    I've only ever used the paper filters and ways gotten great results, but definitely considering the Able disc.

    When my other machine broke down I stuck with really getting to know the Aeropress for months, and worked with many recipes that replicated espresso, got pretty close! (Of course not the same, but was able to get some amazing espresso-like concoctions...)
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  19. #19
    Senior Member Magic_Matt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Crema_Lad View Post
    Wow!! I had no idea. Yes might be good fun checking one out me thinks
    It's a very fun crowd! I met a previous year's winner at the NSW comp; chatting about recipes, he leaned over and said, sotto voce: "people take this sh*t way too seriously"
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  20. #20
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    For a good parody on the pretentiousness that can creep into coffee appreciation have a look at "theweaselbrew" on Instagram.
    Written by a roaster here in Hobart. A good laugh.
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  21. #21
    Senior Member greenman's Avatar
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    I attended the WA competition last year and it was a fun night, lots of banter, one of the competitors Eisha, who went on to win the WA Brewers Cup 2016 used a power drill to drive her hand grinder, this created amazement and a lot of fun comments.
    In 2013 I volunteered at MICE when the WBC was on and ended up working on the brewbar, the nominated person to do aeropress that day didn't show up and I was given a crash course in Aeropress brewing and thrown in at the deep end as I had never used one before, I had an amazing experience making brews for punters and coffee royalty from around the world without any disasters, a totally exhilarating day!!!!
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  22. #22
    Senior Member Magic_Matt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Otago View Post
    For a good parody on the pretentiousness that can creep into coffee appreciation have a look at "theweaselbrew" on Instagram.
    Written by a roaster here in Hobart. A good laugh.
    "Coffee is brown" was also great.

  23. #23
    Senior Member simonsk8r's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by greenman View Post
    I attended the WA competition last year and it was a fun night, lots of banter, one of the competitors Eisha, who went on to win the WA Brewers Cup 2016 used a power drill to drive her hand grinder, this created amazement and a lot of fun comments.
    In 2013 I volunteered at MICE when the WBC was on and ended up working on the brewbar, the nominated person to do aeropress that day didn't show up and I was given a crash course in Aeropress brewing and thrown in at the deep end as I had never used one before, I had an amazing experience making brews for punters and coffee royalty from around the world without any disasters, a totally exhilarating day!!!!
    Oh wow, that's awesome, what a great experience!! I've considered volunteering at some regional comps, would be a great learning experience, and also it's such a fun place to be around other passionate coffee folk I've found!
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  24. #24
    Senior Member Crema_Lad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Magic_Matt View Post
    It's a very fun crowd! I met a previous year's winner at the NSW comp; chatting about recipes, he leaned over and said, sotto voce: "people take this sh*t way too seriously"
    What a crack up!! Love it...
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    AeroPress inventor Alan Adler didn't sell metal filters when he owned the company. He recommended paper filters after researching their ability to remove almost all cafestol and kahweol from brewed coffee, based on a study that those chemicals raise cholesterol levels.

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    On this aspect of paper vs metal filters the following is an excerpt from a Harvard Medical School publication "What is it about coffee?" published in January 2012.

    "Cafestol and kahweol: Filtering out cholesterol boosters

    Coffee drinkers concerned about cholesterol weren't happy about some early study results showing that coffee seems to increase cholesterol levels, and "bad" LDL cholesterol levels in particular. But upon closer inspection, the bad news turned out to be not so bad, because the cholesterol-raising effect seems to be limited to coffee that hasn't been filtered, which includes Turkish coffee, coffee brewed in a French press, and the boiled coffee consumed in Scandinavia.

    The cholesterol-raising ingredients in coffee are oily substances called diterpenes, and the two main types in coffee are cafestol (pronounced CAF-es-tol) and kahweol (pronounced KAH-we-awl). They are present either as oily droplets or in the grounds floating in the coffee. But a paper filter traps most of the cafestol and kahweol, so coffee that's been filtered probably has little, if any, effect on cholesterol levels.

    The best evidence is for paper filters, but an interesting study published in 2011 showed that filtering methods used in Singapore (the so-called sock method, which uses a cotton-nylon cloth) and India (metal mesh) were also effective at trapping cafestol.

    Espresso contains more cafestol and kahweol than paper-filtered coffee, but because it is consumed in smaller amounts, it may not have much of an effect on people's LDL level.

    There is a twist to this aspect of the coffee story, because cafestol and kahweol may also have some health benefits that are lost when they're filtered out. The research is in the preliminary stages, but cafestol and kahweol could have some anticancer effects and be good for the liver."

    The paper addresses many other aspects of coffee consumption and can be found at: https://www.health.harvard.edu/stayi...t-about-coffee
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  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Otago View Post
    I've tried most of them and have also settled on the Kaffeologie S filter. However, IMO all of them give comparable results. It is also amazing how many times the paper filter can be rinsed out and reused.

    The Able discs are 6 and 8 micron for the fine and standard discs respectively. The Kaffeologie S is 41 microns. You can now get IMS filters in 150 and 30 microns but I haven't tried those. I think anything under 150 microns will give a clean cup with minimal fines.

    You can find a comparison of the paper, Able Disk Normal, Able Disk Fine and the IMS Superfine Disk on perfectdailygrind. Google The Perfect Daily Grind Aeropress Filter comparison.

    Having said all this Andy's endorsement of the Able filter, through long experience and substantial knowledge, should be given substantial weight.
    interesting! ive only used the s filter and the holes seem reallllly small compared to the able's holes in the pictures. can you confirm the micron sizes you qouted? 6 and 8 microns sound really really small.

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    Behmor Brazen - $249 - Free Freight
    As is the way with the internet I found these specs from a Google search but now can't relocate the reference. However, on reflection it would seem that the reference might have been to the thickness of the sheets from which the filters are made, rather than the size of the holes. There seems to be a dearth of information on the Able disc hole size. Irrespective, the Able discs operate well and the Fine disc, especially, is very easy to clean and seems not to retain stains like the mesh filters do. One downside of the Fine disc is that it is a little fragile because of its thinness.

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