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The Taste of Paper Filters

November 06, 2012
Category: in Skill-Building: Extraction

img 10921Here at Crop to Cup Brooklyn we were so bummed that we couldn't attend MANE Conference 2012, we decided to hold our own!  To do that we kicked out our cafe customers for the day (sorry) and held our own internal staff training,  quality competitions (barista Maya B. won all), tastings, lectures, etc.  For some unknown reason Dan decided to call the event Timecop 2012, even finding a photo of me (Taylor) giving a look similar to Jean Claude Van-Damme on the '94 hit's VHS sleeve.  Coincidentally, my "name" in high school French class was Jean-Claude for a year.

Anyway, what I wanted to post about was our PAPER TASTING.   No coffee, just paper and water.  It's a good test to do if you want to see how your paper filter choice is affecting your coffee's taste.  It's simple to do...just drop your paper filter into a mug, fill it up with hot water (same temp as you'd normally use for coffee brewing), let it steep a few minutes, then start drinking and enjoying/gagging on the paper-infused water.

Here at Timecop '12 we tasted four filters: 1) commercial machine brewer filter (those big white elephant ear looking things they use  in cafes/restaurants), 2) Filtropa white flat-bottom filter (#4 size), 3) Hario cone-bottom 2-cup unbleached and 4) unbleached Chemex filter squares.  Plus a mug of hot water as the control - poured at the same time as the other mugs so the temps are all the same.

The definition of a good coffee filter is "lack of taste" i.e. a situation where the paper does not impart any flavor into the water and thus you taste only coffee and water (and all the good minerals in it).  The winner was, surprisingly, the no-name commercial filter, although the Filtropa was not far behind. We tasted barely anything in those two compared with swigs of unadulterated hot water.  The Hario filter imparted a slight paper taste but nothing too negative.  The real surprise was the Chemex filter, which had an intense paper (even cardboardy) taste.  We likened it to the smell of a pizza box that has been reheating in your oven before slices are dished out to the kids.  Man, it was strong, and unpleasant.

Admittedly we need to take a few more steps in our little experiment to achieve conclusive results, namely getting our hands on some bleached (white) Chemex and Hario filters to see if those impart any less flavor than their unbleached counterparts which we tasted here.    We'll post up the results here.

But we'd love to hear from you...what do your paper filters taste like?  More specifically, can anybody share experiences with the unbleached Chemex or Hario filters?  Post comments here or on twitter via #filtertaste

Folks, this is why you gotta rinse your paper filters before brewing!

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