Chemex Brewing: Paper vs Metal Filter

Customers often ask us about the difference between brewing with Chemex Paper Filters and the metal Able Kone Filter. Apart from the obvious fact that metal is reusable and paper isn’t, there are some sensory differences to consider when deciding which is right for you.

We brewed side-by-side samples of our single origin Brazil Minas Gerais coffee through glass Chemex coffee makers. For the sake of comparison we used the same medium-fine grind size for both brews. We brewed the same weight of coffee (30g) with the same amount of water (500g), both with a 45 second bloom using 70g of water.



The paper filter prevents any solids from getting through into the carafe. This results in a beautiful, semi-transparent, reddish-brown coffee. The paper also absorbs oils from the coffee grounds and keeps them from your cup. This can be viewed as both a positive and a negative. Oils are a great carrier of flavor and so can enhance the taste of food and beverages. But they can also oxidize very easily, leaving a less than desirable note in your coffee. Oxidized oils are more prevalent in dark roasted coffees, older beans (more than 3 weeks after roasting) and pre-ground coffee.

In any case our 5-day old, medium roasted, freshly ground beans didn’t have an oil issue to start with. The sample brewed through the paper filter tasted crisp, clean and deliciously sweet.

The metal Kone filter allows only the tiniest of micro-fines through into the cup. This results in an opaque appearance, provides much more body and richer flavor characteristics. It is more like a french press coffee but with a rounded, smoother flavor profile and significantly less fines in the bottom of your cup.


Interestingly, despite the differences in clarity and body, both coffees displayed the typical notes we expect of our Brazil beans: chocolate and toasted peanuts with a hint of honey in the finish.

Both the paper filter and the metal filter produced great cups of coffee. If you are a fan of delicate, vibrant, clean coffee then I’d recommend the paper filters. If a richer, heavy-bodied cup appeals more then give the Able Kone a whirl. At the very least, it will save you ever running out of filters again!