Bleached Or Unbleached Coffee Filters?

You may view a coffee filter as just a cheap piece of paper. But without it, you can screw up your daily coffee brewing habit. Like you, many coffee makers are not sure whether to buy bleached or unbleached coffee filters.

But as for you, by the end of this article, you will not be confused anymore. That’s because I will help you understand the difference between the two. Also, this article will inform you of the best coffee sievers to use, how to use them, the impact they have on your coffee taste, among other topics.

Stay with me for this information and much more.

First, Here is a Short History of Soffee Filters

Paper filters started to appear in the twentieth century. Back in the 1900s, Caffeine lovers used cloth filters (socks) while making their coffee drinks. A German housewife Melissa Bentz decided to look for ways to brew clean coffee.

So, she took a blotting paper and folded it to hold coffee grounds.  Bentz then poured water on it. That is how she discovered the first java filter.

Many coffee enthusiasts continue to use pour-overs today when brewing. Now, there has been a debate on whether to use bleached or unbleached coffee filters. Don’t worry! We shall get there shortly. Let’s first understand why coffee papers are bleached.

Why Are Coffee Papers Bleached?

The reasons include:

  • To make the espresso filter appear more commercial and attractive.
  • To get rid of paper flavors from the filter. That’s because some brown papers may cause your coffee to have a papery taste.
  • Coffee gauzes look cleaner while white than brown.

Note that bleaching of the coffee papers happens through two processes; the chlorine bleach process and the oxygen bleach process. Care about your health and the environment when buying these filters.

Therefore, my expert advice is to purchase bleached coffee filters prepared through the oxygen bleach process. That is if you don’t like the brown ones.

Bleached Versus Unbleached Coffee Filters

I feel like the choice to use bleached or unbleached filters is a matter of preference. While taking your coffee, you cannot know the filter used unless you feel a papery taste. But there are some differences to note between the two. Here we go.

The bleached filters have been made white through either chlorine or oxygen bleaching. On the other hand, the brown ones are not. However, if you choose the bleached coffee filters, go for the oxygen bleached ones.

Unbleached filters are brown. They are also slightly better on the environment. That’s because they undergo less processing. Unfortunately, if you fail to rinse well before using, your coffee might have a papery taste.

It is also possible to get a papery taste while using bleached coffee filters. It all depends on the quality of coffee paper you choose to use. Again, make it a habit to rinse your filters before using them.

Which One Gives a Better Taste Between Bleached and Unbleached Coffee Filters?

Again as I said, if you fail to rinse the brown filters well, your coffee might have a papery taste. But when you use it properly, the papery taste fades.

On the other hand, the bleached filters do not easily tamper with your brew’s taste. They undergo a bleaching process that makes them safe to use. However, we cannot turn a blind eye to the fact that the quality of the filters determines the outcome.

Bleached Versus Unbleached; Which One Has The Best Quality And Thickness?

To answer this question, many companies manufacture these java filters. Some are offering high quality and others poor quality filters. Know your brand and always go for the highest quality.

Both bleached and unbleached come in different standards of quality. Regardless of the filter you use, it must be of an appropriate size and thickness. Don’t go for cheap things to save a few coins.

Those thin, poorly textured filters allow water to go through them at a faster rate. Therefore, you will not get the strength of coffee that you need. It also affects the entire brewing process and the taste.

Which Coffee Filter is Environmental Friendly?

Unbleached coffee filters are environmentally friendly. That’s because they undergo less processing than the bleached ones. That is why they have their brown paper color.

However, a large percentage of filter papers you use are bleached. It poses an environmental risk because of the bleaching processes involved.

If you want to be environmentally friendly, use unbleached coffee filters. But, ensure you make your filters wet before coffee brewing. If wondering, here is how to wet your filter:

  • Put the filter in the pour-over
  • Pour water on the entire filter
  • Dump the used water
  • Brew your coffee normally


Wetting your filters helps avoid a papery taste in your coffee. You can also do the same with the bleached filters. Although it is not as vital as with the unbleached ones, wetting is crucial if you are using the pour-over machine.

However, with the drip coffee machine, wetting your filters is not necessary. That is because there is water that flows through the coffee machine during the coffee brewing process. The water is enough to wet the filter. As a result, your coffee tastes great.

Can the Coffee Filters Undergo Recycling?

I know you might be feeling guilty thrashing those used coffee filters every day. Due to that reason, you are wondering if you can recycle them; Right?

Unfortunately, the paper filters cannot undergo recycling, whether bleached or unbleached. That is because of the coffee oils that enter the filters. Therefore, the majority of recycling centers do not accept them.

To be more environmentally friendly, you can reuse the java strainers thrice before thrashing. Also, make a compost pile where you can place all your used coffee filters.

 But, if it is still a concern to you, I advise you consider purchasing the permanent coffee filters. They can serve you for six months to one year before you can find a replacement. Based on the permanent coffee filter material, it is possible to recycle it after use.

Final Thoughts

Your preference determines your choice of bleached versus unbleached coffee filters. If used correctly, both of the filters will give you the kind of taste you need in a coffee. However, make sure you source high-quality cafe filters with the required size and thickness. Also, remember to wet your pour-over unbleached filters before use.