What do you think of when you think of Chemex coffee? Probably a light body, crisp flavors, and a clean cup. What if I told you that has more to do with the filter than the brewer? It’s true! You can change the style of your Chemex brew simply by changing the filter.
So when it comes to Chemex filters and alternatives, it’s not about which one is objectively best. It’s about which one makes the coffee you enjoy. You’ll want to look at our top pick for that classic clean cup, but we think it’s worth keeping some alternatives on hand too. Each has its pros and cons. Learn about them all in this round-up of the best Chemex filters.
The 7 Best Filters for Chemex in 2022
Whether you like the crisp cup of a paper filter or the full body of a metal-filtered brew, there is a Chemex-compatible option. We’ve rounded up seven of the best in all styles and materials. No matter your choice, you’re getting something tried and tested by our expert team.
Before you get started, make sure you’re well versed on how to use a Chemex.
If you own a Chemex, it is worth owning a set of the classic Chemex filters (1). These double-bonded paper coffee filters are 20 to 30 percent thicker than traditional paper filters, giving Chemex coffee its recognizable light body and complex flavors. The thicker paper absorbs more of the coffee oils and blocks all of the coffee grounds, for a notably smooth and clean cup, according to Chemex.
By using Chemex filter papers one is able to brew coffee as strong as they like, without acidity and bitterness.
The Classic Chemex Filter is available either in bleached white or natural brown. It has been noted that the natural brown filters can hint at a papery or woody flavor to brewed coffee. So if you want to go that route, we recommend giving them a good pre-rinse with hot water before adding ground coffee, especially if you are brewing a lighter coffee with subtle flavors.
Chemex coffee filters are generally more expensive than standard Melitta or Hario style paper filters, up to two or three times the price per filter paper. This is a direct result of thicker Chemex filters and using a different fiber blend. They have a premium feel and are priced accordingly.
Aside from brewing a different style of coffee, metal coffee filters are more economical and generate less waste than paper filters. If you’re a metal coffee filter fan, we love the Able Kone. Able Brewing is a reputable American coffee company specializing in reusable metal filters, and the Kone for Chemex is their flagship product (2). Because the metal mesh doesn’t hold back the coffee oils, it produces a heavy-bodied cup with a rich mouthfeel.
Unlike many metal coffee filters made from a simple metal mesh, the Kone is made from a single piece of stainless steel that has been photochemically etched with a pattern of holes. And that pattern is no fluke. Engineering models were used to determine that their specific pattern of square and round holes is the best way to promote an even flow of water through the ground coffee. A polymer ring at the top of the cone enables it to sit comfortably in your brewer.
The Able Kone is impressively versatile. Not only does it fit all sizes of Chemex carafes, but you can also use it in many top drip coffee machines, including the Ratio 8, the Technivorm Moccamaster, and Bonavita brewers.
The Apace Living metal pour over filter is an inexpensive alternative to the Able Kone. While it doesn’t have quite the engineering expertise behind it, it can still brew a fantastic and full-bodied cup for about half the price. It may be a bit pricier than the paper or cloth options, but we think it’s the best bargain because it will outlast them all.
The Apace filter uses a double layer of mesh with precision cut holes and a sealed tip for optimizing extraction.
Interestingly, Apace has considered not only water flow but also style in the design of this coffee filter. It’s available in either a copper or gold color (both are stainless steel with a coating) and with one of two patterns: a geometric diamond design or a more floral look. Whichever option you choose, Apace coffee filters look noticeably beautiful on your coffee bar. And for such a budget price, you might as well buy two – one for your Chemex and one for your Hario V60, since it’s compatible with both!
Cloth filters aren’t as popular in North America, but they are widespread in other parts of the world (3). Many experts, including legendary coffee pro James Hoffmann, enjoy the coffee produced using a cloth filter (4).
The reason I love it is that it’s this perfect kind of hybrid of clarity and texture.
What he’s describing is that they yield a cup that is a cross between what you get from a reusable stainless steel filter and a paper filter, with a medium body and smooth mouthfeel. Unlike metal mesh coffee filters, you never have to worry about fines in your cup, but you still get some delightful mouth-coating natural coffee bean oils in your brew.
CoffeeSock is one of the best-known cloth coffee filter brands in the U.S. They’ve been singing the praises of cloth filters and making products to suit all coffee makers for over ten years. Their large Chemex filters brew up to 13 cups at a time.
CoffeeSock filters are American-made using 100% Organic cotton that has been sustainably sourced. So they’re a good choice for the environment AND your coffee. Plus, cloth filters are reusable, which also makes them a good choice for your wallet. That said, they require more care and attention when it comes to cleaning than metal filters, and even with proper care, don’t expect them to last as long as stainless steel.
5. Barista Warrior Pour Over Filter – Best Metal Filter
Brand: Barista Warrior
- Type: Reusable Filter
- Material: Stainless steel with gold titanium coating
Barista Warrior is a budget coffee brand that emerged on Amazon and developed an impressive little line of coffee products that even experts appreciate. They offer French presses, gooseneck kettles, and pour-over coffee filters, and each item is thoughtfully designed and affordably priced.
Their pour-over filter is as beautiful as it is functional, especially if you opt for our favorite copper-coated version – which you might as well pair with their equally gorgeous copper gooseneck kettle to complete the set! It is compatible with the Chemex and with most other cone-shaped drippers. The double layer of fine metal mesh and laser-cut stainless steel cone delivers a beautifully balanced coffee with a full body and robust flavor.
Suppose you’re not sure you’ll like the flavor of coffee brewed with a double-layer stainless steel filter. In that case, the Barista Warrior is a great one to try risk-free because they offer a lifetime warranty and 100% satisfaction guarantee. Give it a shot, and return it if it’s not for you.
If you’re worried about the environmental impact of your coffee habit, one simple way to make a change is to switch to these organic hemp coffee filters. Like cotton filters, they brew a delicious cup with a medium body, robust aroma, and clean flavors. But compared to cotton, they are twice as strong and require half as much water to grow (5). That means hemp filters are even better for the planet and will last longer – saving you money in the long run.
Don’t worry about the hemp material imparting off flavors to your brew. Hemp processing has come a long way from its days as a material for bracelets and scratchy clothing, and it’s now just as refined as cotton. Don’t believe me? Bolio offers a 100% satisfaction guarantee. So you can try out a hemp filter risk-free.
If you want one coffee filter to use with all your pour-over drippers, opt for this versatile model from Ovalware. Its simple design is compatible with all sizes of Chemex, the Hario V60 02 and 03 sizes, and most other cone-shaped drippers. It uses a silicone grip at the top to sit securely in most brewers, but you also have the option to remove it to fit different shapes and sizes of drippers.
Like the Barista Warrior and Apace designs, the Ovalware filter uses “dual-filter technology,” a double layer of filters that keeps more of the fines out of the cup while still allowing all the coffee oils to pass through. The inner layer is a fine mesh, while the outer layer is a laser-cut design. The resultant coffee is slightly lighter in the body than a typical reusable metal filter, approaching what you might expect from a cloth coffee filter.
How to Choose the Best Filter for Chemex
Choosing the best filter for a Chemex is surprisingly nuanced. There are significant pros and cons to paper, cloth, and metal filters – not to mention each produces a slightly different brew.
But don’t be overwhelmed. This buyer’s guide will walk you through choosing the best filter for your coffee taste and lifestyle – or the best filters, plural. We think it’s well worth owning more than one style of Chemex filter. None are costly, and you can swap them out to suit your mood, the guests you may be serving, or different types of coffee beans.
Chemex vs Alternative Brands
There are two options when shopping for Chemex filters, and you can either stick with the Chemex brand or explore Chemex filter alternatives.
Chemex sells only the classic paper filters, and they are available either bleached or unbleached and can be round or square. The main advantage of buying Chemex brand filters is that they produce the crisp, clean cup of coffee the brewer is known for. So if you visited a local coffee shop and fell in love with a complex and light-bodied brew from a Chemex, the double-bonded Chemex paper filters are the only way to replicate that at home.
However, if you enjoy a coffee with a slightly heavier body, you have way more filter options. Plenty of reusable cloth and metal filters on the market are designed to be compatible with the Chemex coffee maker. Just beware that not all Chemex filter alternatives are created equal, and you can’t trust every brand the way you can trust the Chemex brand. Some coffee lovers run some companies, while others are just cheap Amazon knock-offs. We avoided the latter in this list and only suggest the best Chemex filter alternatives.
A nice benefit of the alternative filters is that many have the versatility to be used with other drippers as well. Some coffee filters are a great option if you also have a Hario V60 or other coffee maker with a cone filter.
Why Filter Material Matters
It might surprise you that your choice of a filter can significantly impact the outcome of your coffee and have implications for the environment, your wallet, and ease of brewing. This section will cover the pros and cons of paper, cloth, and metal Chemex filters.
How Filters Impact Flavor
A coffee filter impacts a coffee’s flavor by dictating how many coffee oils and fines (finely ground coffee) it lets through into the cup (6). Coffee oils and fines affect both the taste and body of the resulting cup of coffee (7).
- A metal filter allows through all of the coffee’s oils and some of the fines, producing a coffee with a creamy mouthfeel, bold flavor, and heavy body. The coffee style will be similar to that of a French Press but not quite as robust, since the Chemex coffee maker is an infusion brewing method.
- A cloth filter lets through many of the coffee oils but none of the fines, so you’ll get a clean and aromatic cup with a medium body and bright acidity. It is an excellent middle ground between paper and metal filters.
- A paper filter (and especially the thick Chemex filters) traps most of the coffee oils and all of the fines. It yields a mild flavored coffee with no sediment and a light body. Paper filter coffee is described as crisp, clean, and approachable and is often recommended for lighter roasts.
Bleached or Unbleached
If you’re buying Chemex paper filters, you can choose either the bleached (white) or unbleached (brown) option. Coffee lovers prefer bleached paper filters because the natural alternatives can add a woody or papery taste to the coffee. And when it comes to the subtly flavored light roasts often brewed with a Chemex, this can be off-putting. On the other hand, bleached filters carry the stigma of the word “bleach,” which worries consumers from health and environmental standpoints.
In both cases, concerns are somewhat unfounded. You’ll be relieved to hear that Chemex is not using chlorine bleach when it comes to bleached coffee filters. Instead, they use a more environmentally friendly oxidizing process involving hydrogen peroxide to whiten the paper, followed by multiple hot water baths to remove all traces of the chemical (8). In contrast, the natural filters are only treated with hot water baths to remove the papery flavor.
We can attest that unbleached filters have a noticeable flavor, but you can largely eliminate this by pre-wetting them with hot water, which you should be doing anyway. We’d recommend the bleached filters for very subtle and complex light roasts, but in any other case, the flavor of the coffee will far surpass the flavor of the filter.
Durability and Environmental Concerns
Paper, cloth, and metal Chemex filters all have very different life expectancies, which you should consider in the context of both expense and the environment.
Disposable paper filters are for a single use, so they generate the most waste. However, Chemex filters are biodegradable and compostable.
So as long as you have compost and aren’t tossing your used filters in the trash, there is no reason to worry about the environmental implications. However, from a cost standpoint, they are the most expensive option annually, assuming you brew coffee regularly. Chemex paper filters run about 15 to 20 cents per filter, which means around $60 a year if you’re brewing coffee daily.
Cloth coffee filters are the next most durable, but their longevity depends on your palate and cleaning protocol. If you thoroughly clean your cloth filter after each use and store it appropriately, it should last for 100 brews. But many sensitive coffee drinkers find it can start imparting off flavors at closer to 50 uses, especially when brewing lighter and more delicate coffees. Assuming 75 uses for a cloth filter, you’re looking at a budget of less than $40 a year for cloth filters.
Lastly, stainless steel Chemex filters are built to endure. They cost the most upfront, but there is no reason a well-cared-for metal cone coffee filter can’t last your lifetime. Many come with lifetime warranties. Even buying the most expensive metal filter, the Able Kone, will only amount to about $4 a year, assuming you use it for the next ten years – and you won’t be generating any waste in those years.
How much do you hate cleaning up after brewing Chemex coffee? While this probably shouldn’t dictate how you brew your coffee, it’s hard to avoid considering it, especially if you have busy mornings packed with work and family.
Paper filters are the easiest to clean up. Grab them, toss them in the compost bin, and done. You don’t even need to dispose of the grounds separately. Metal Chemex filters are only slightly more complex. Knock the coffee grounds into the compost, and then rinse the filter. They are also dishwasher safe for the occasional more thorough cleaning. Cloth filters, however, are a bit of an ordeal. You must thoroughly rinse them to remove all the coffee, and then they should be stored either in cold water or in the freezer.
When choosing the best Chemex filters, it’s not about which is objectively the best; it’s about how you want to enjoy your coffee. The best option is the one that balances the style of coffee you enjoy with your budget and environmental concerns.
Of course, our top pick has to be the Classic Chemex Filter. It may not be the most budget-friendly option, but it’s the only one that produces the type of crisp, clean coffee that has made Chemex coffee makers brewing icons worldwide.
Can I reuse a paper Chemex filter?
Yes, you can reuse a paper Chemex filter, a nice perk of the extra thick paper. Indeed, the company doesn’t recommend this as it eats into their profits. But if you give it a good rinse after brewing and then let it dry, you can get two to three uses from a single filter.
What is the best coffee for Chemex?
The best coffee for Chemex is the one that tastes best to you. Chemex is known for producing a clean cup that highlights bright acidity and subtle flavors. For this reason, many people enjoy lighter roasts brewed in a Chemex because it reveals the complexity of their taste profile.
Can Chemex coffee makers go in the dishwasher?
Chemex coffee makers cannot go in a dishwasher, and the glass carafe is too fragile. Luckily, they are easily cleaned by hand with a quick water rinse and occasional bath in warm soapy water. If you’re using a metal filter, that can go in the dishwasher.
Are paper filters healthier?
Paper filters are healthier for those with specific medical concerns. Because they remove most of the coffee oils, some of which have been shown to increase LDL cholesterol levels, they are a good choice for those concerned about their cholesterol levels. However, the average healthy adult need not worry about this tiny effect (9).
- Rodriguez, A. (2021, November 11). How Did the Chemex End Up at MoMA? Retrieved from https://www.drinktrade.com/blog/education/Chemex-history
- Bryman, H. (2018, October 9). Manual Equipment Maker Able Brewing in Capable New Hands. Retrieved from https://dailycoffeenews.com/2018/10/09/manual-equipment-maker-able-brewing-in-capable-new-hands/
- Savia, A. (2021, April 14). History of Cloth Filters. Retrieved from https://wobhfilters.co/blogs/journal/history-of-cloth-filters
- James Hoffmann. (2020, June 19). [Video]. YouTube. Cloth Filters for Coffee. (2020, June 19). [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dr_I3ZVKKb4ps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dr_I3ZVKKb4
- Manuele, J. (2018, January 25). Hemp Vs Cotton Clothing: We Have a Clear Winner. Retrieved from https://medium.com/@jamesmanuele2017/hemp-vs-cotton-clothing-we-have-a-clear-winner-9d12785ebd50
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- Hart, P.W. & Rudie, A. (2007). Hydrogen peroxide : an environmentally friendly but dangerous bleaching chemical. Retrieved from https://www.fs.usda.gov/treesearch/pubs/34782
- Hicks, T. (2022, May 11). How Coffee Affects Cholesterol in Men, Women. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health-news/brewed-coffee-vs-espresso-may-affect-cholesterol-levels-differently-in-men-and-women