Coffee Filter Sizes - Size Matters! A Coffee Lovers Guide

Coffee Filter Sizes – Size Matters! A Coffee Lovers Guide

Last updated on October 24th, 2023 at 19:41

Knowing your coffee filter sizes and materials used to make them will help you to brew a better cup of coffee. It is surprising how much a simple and humble coffee filter can and will influence the flavor of your coffee.

Change just one thing, and it will alter how your coffee will taste.

Keep reading to find out about the coffee filter sizes, material and how they play their part in the brewing process.

Coffee Filter Sizes

Regardless of the shape and material made to make your coffee filter, to work perfectly with your chosen coffee brewing method you must use the correct size of filter.

Common Coffee Filter Sizes For Cone Filters

  • #1 Coffee Filters: This is the filter size to use for single cup coffee makers and pour-over systems.
  • #2 Coffee Filters: This is the filter size that is ideal for 2 to 6 cup coffee machine or 1 to 2 cup pour-over systems.
  • #4 Coffee Filters: This is the filter size that is perfect for 8 to 10 cup coffee machines and pour overs.
  • #6 Coffee Filters: This is the size for the larger coffee makers that are able to make more than 10 cups of coffee.
Coffee Filter Sizes
Coffee Filter Sizes

Read: Cone coffee filter sizes

Can #2 And #4 Filters Be Used Interchangeably?

When your need to use a #4 filter instead of a #2 filter involves a little origami or a pair of scissors. Trim it to make it fit the filter basket. Using a #2 instead of a number #4 is more difficult; you need to have more care when pouring your hot water.

Generally, it is not advised to use the incorrect filter size and certainly not for a drip coffee machine. If you use too small a filter (a #2 when your machine takes a #4 coffee filter) you may not get the right distribution of water over your grounds.

Using a filter that is too big (a #4 filter when your machine is designed for a #2 filter) you get an overflow of water and a horrible mess to clean. In the worst case situation you will end up shorting your coffee maker, breaking it and risk electrocution! At Latte Love Brew, for the matter of safety, we encourage you to take a safety first approach.

What About Basket Shaped Filters And Their Sizes?

Sizing a basket filter is much easier as there are just two sizes:

  • Junior: For coffee machines that make less than 6 cups of coffee.
  • Regular: For larger coffee makers that can make more than 6 cups.

What About Disk Filter Sizes

Disk-shaped coffee filters are rare and occasionally seen. These are the filters that you have seen used with an AeroPress coffee maker.

These are much smaller than cone filters and basket filters and are purchased to fit a specific brewing device.

How Coffee Filters Work

Coffee filters work in a very simple way. They are designed to hold the hot water long enough to get the perfect amount of total dissolved solids into your cup of coffee while prohibiting the coffee grounds from passing through and into your cup of coffee.

Although there is no standard pore size for coffee filters, paper filters use 20 microns, which is the standard which manufacturers of automatic coffee makers use.

This pore size ensures a perfect contact time between the water and the coffee grounds for drip coffee. For pour over coffee makers and systems there are 10 micron metal filters available that increase the contact time, resulting in a stronger tasting cup of coffee.

Permanent Coffee Filters

Permanent coffee filters are great for the environment as they result in less waste and, in my opinion, make a much better cup of coffee as you get all the coffee oils in your cup.

An advantage of permanent filters is you can get them in various pore sizes with 20 microns being the average size.

Smaller 10 micron pore size exists for pour over coffee that produce longer contact time and produce a stronger and more flavorful cup of coffee.

The clear advantage of permanent coffee filters is never running out of filter papers.

Permanent filters are the metal filters and can be made from various metals. The most common metal filters that you will find are made of aluminum and stainless steel.

Copper coffee filters are popular too. Regardless of which metal filter you use, you must clean it after every use to remove the coffee grounds and particles as well as the coffee oils.

Metal filters are not the only material that is used in permanent filters; there are also glass coffee filters.

Permanent Coffee Filter
Permanent Coffee Filter

Semi-Permanent Coffee Filters

Semi-Permanent coffee filters are mainly cloth filters which produce a notably different tasting cup of coffee.

A cloth filter filters out some of the coffee oils and some gets into your cup, creating a brew that is bolder than a paper filter, but lighter than a metal filter.

The dominant and literally the only material used to make cloth filters is cotton. The choice is organic cotton or regular cotton with bleached filter and unbleached filters being a further option.

Obviously, unbleached organic cotton filters are best.

Disposable Coffee Filters

Disposable coffee filters are the most popular type of coffee filter. These are the paper coffee filters that you see everywhere.

The coffee produced is clean and crisp as they filter out all the coffee oils.

Paper filters come in two options – bleached and unbleached.

Paper filters are not the only material available for disposable coffee filters, bamboo is another popular material.

Bleached Filters

Bleached filters be they made from paper, bamboo or a cotton cloth filter are not the best coffee filter choice as they are processed with chlorine or oxygen to create the white color.

It is due to being processed with chemicals that make them a choice to avoid. A bleached paper filter will inevitably leech some of those chemicals used into your cup of coffee.

Chlorinated coffee? No, thanks!

Unbleached Coffee Filters

The brown paper filters that you have seen are the unbleached coffee filters. These work just the same as the bleached version but are less processed than bleached filters.

The fact that there is less processing and less chemical used means your unbleached filters are healthier and less toxic.

Regardless of which type of filter that you use, always rinse them with hot water before you use them. This is the same, be it a paper filter or a cloth filter, rinse before brewing.

Unbleached Coffee Filters
Unbleached Coffee Filters

Special Coffee Filters For Specific Brewing Techniques

Besides the standard coffee filters that we are all familiar with and can buy in most stores. There are a few specialized coffee filters for specific coffee brewing methods.

They are a little different in design and shape.

AeroPress

An AeroPress filter is a disk-shaped filter and is specific to this brewer and brewing technique.

Their filters are thinner than other filters and don’t quite give you a coffee that is f100% free from sediment.

Chemex

Chemex coffee brewers are known for their unique approach to pour over coffee and their distinctive look. The coffee produced is clean, light, delicate and delicious.

Due to the wide opening they use a thicker, heavier paper filter that provides the ideal contact time between your hot water and coffee grounds.

Using a regular filter will just cause the water to run through your filter too quickly and result in a weak cup of coffee.

Chemex
Chemex Pour Over

Hario V60

Hario V60 coffee filters are available in two sizes, the Hario V60-01 and the Hario V60-02. The difference between the two is the size of the opening. A Hario V60-02 has the larger opening.

The paper filters for this pour over method are extremely thin and are cone filters.

The result of such thin coffee filters is a more complex and brighter coffee.

The construction materials used for Hario V60 brewers are plastic, aluminum, stainless steel, copper and glass.

Kalita Wave

A Kalita Wave is a drip coffee maker that uses a paper basket filter that has vertical ridges.

The design keeps your coffee grounds away from the walls and helps you to get a more evenly extracted cup of coffee.

Material used to construct a Kalita Wave are, copper, aluminum, stainless steel, ceramic and plastic.

Frequently Asked Questions About Coffee Filter Sizes

The most commonly used coffee filter size for making pour over coffee is the #4 size, which is known by many as the standard size for coffee filters. This is big enough for making 8 to 10 cups of coffee in a drip coffee maker.

A #4 coffee filter has a larger capacity and is capable of brewing 8 to 10 cups of coffee. It measures 5 inches tall and 7.5 inches wide. A #2 filter is capable of brewing 2 to 6 cups of coffee and measures 4 inches tall and 6.25 inches wide.

Do Paper Coffee Filters Come In Different Sizes?

Yes, a paper coffee filter can come in different sizes. A #1 sized filter is for single cup coffee makers. #2 filter is designed for a coffee maker that has the capacity for brewing 2 to 6 cups of coffee. A #4 filter is for a coffee machine that can brew 8 to 10 cups while a #6 filter is for a coffee maker that can brew more than 10 cups.

Yes, absolutely yes! The type of coffee filter that you use can and will have a dramatic difference in how your coffee tastes. Both the shape and material that the filter is made from can alter how your coffee tastes.

Metal filters produce a bolder and fuller tasting cup of coffee due to getting all the coffee oils into the cup while a paper filter removes all the coffee oils resulting in a crisp and cleaner tasting cup of coffee.

A cloth filter will remove some of the coffee oils from the brewed coffee, which will result in a coffee that is a middle ground between a metal filter and a paper filter.

The shape will also influence the flavor cone filters will produce a stronger darker tasting coffee and coax out the cocoa notes and tones of dried fruits.

A basket filter will produce a coffee that is sweeter, more floral and fruity.

Why Are Brown Coffee Filters Better Than White?

A brown coffee filter is better than a white filter due to being unbleached and thus less processed and having less harmful chemicals in them than a white filter.

In the comparison between a flat bottom filter and a conical filter, which is best for you will depend on how you prefer your coffee to taste, as both influence how your coffee will taste. The lower total dissolved solids from flat-bottomed filters results in a sweeter, more floral, honey-like taste while a conical filter will bring out the deeper and darker flavors.

Final Thoughts – Coffee Filter Sizes 

Now that you know all about coffee filter sizes, you will know which size to use and for which drip or pour over coffee maker. You can also make an accurate prediction on how your brew will taste based on the material that it is made from and the size of the pores.

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Derek Marshall, a certified barista by the Specialty Coffee Association possesses over two decades of experience in specialty coffee shops. He holds professional certifications for coffee brewing and barista skills. Derek is also an author with authoritative books covering various coffee topics including specialty coffee, sustainability and coffee, coffee brewing, coffee recipes, coffee cocktails and books focusing on Brazilian coffee, Vietnamese coffee, Indonesian coffee and Malaysian coffee. As a barista for over two decades, Derek Marshall has worked in specialty coffee shops across the United Kingdom, Spain, Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, Indonesia, and Vietnam. His expertise extends to the distinct coffee cultures, specialty beverages, and brewing techniques of each nation. Functioning as a coffee consultant, Derek charges US$50 per hour. To learn more about Derek Marshall and Latte Love Brew, visit his About Me Page. For coffee inquiries, contact him at +34-639-410-375 or Derek@LatteLoveBrew.com, mentioning your name and location

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