Coffee Filters: Some Eco-Friendly Options

coffee filters

Does your morning coffee routine include a crisp, white paper filter?

Close your eyes and picture yourself inside a coffee shop on a movie set. You are seated at a table, waiting on a drip cup of gourmet coffee. A waiter hurries over with your order, and then sits down and introduces himself as a member of “The Dirty Dozen.”

Film buffs are going to wonder how Charles Bronson figures into an article on coffee filters, but this isn’t a remake of the classic 1967 war film.

“Coffee Filters: The Movie” is more of an eco-thriller.

 

Paper Coffee Filters: A Not Eco-Friendly Shade of Pale

The unsavory member of the dirty dozen hiding behind that crisp, white paper filter is dioxin.

The “Dirty Dozen” refers to a list of chemicals classified as dangerous persistent organic pollutants. Dioxins are on that list, and have high toxic potential.

Dioxins are primarily introduced to the environment as a byproduct of industrial processes. One major source is chlorine bleaching of paper pulp. While trace amounts can be found in the final product, the greater concern is that the dioxins introduced into the surrounding environment bioaccumulate back up the food chain.

The good news is that it is really, really easy to avoid this mess when it comes to coffee filters. If you are using paper filters, look for products labeled “TCF” or “total chlorine-free.” If it is a recycled product, the label will read “PCF” or “processed chlorine-free.”

Looking beyond paper provides additional environmental benefits by reducing the amount of waste headed to the landfills. Cloth filters typically last for 3-6 months of daily use, although they can be tricky to clean. Conventional cotton production comes with its own mix of environmental implications, so look for filters made from hemp or unbleached organic cotton.

If you would like to make a permanent commitment to an eco-friendly filter, consider a metal filter made of stainless steel or gold.

{Nota Bene: There is a well-reasoned argument for preferring paper. Paper filters absorb oils in a way that metal filters can’t typically match. This is, in part at least, the debate behind preferences for a French Press versus a drip method. In terms of  filter options, if you prefer filtered coffee over a French Press, then you may prefer one of the eco-friendly paper options listed below. Conversely, French Press aficionados may prefer a metal filter when they go for drip. As always, embrace the options and experiment to find your sweet spot.}

 

coffee filters

 

Coffee Filters: Eco-Friendlier Options

Here are a few more options to contemplate when switching away from traditionally bleached paper filters:

If You Care makes cone and basket filters that are unbleached and completely chlorine-free. The paper is sourced from Forest Stewardship Council certified forests.

Melitta (the first company to introduce unbleached and oxygen bleached filters) launched their bamboo filter line in 2007. Bamboo grows faster than trees, making it the more renewable resource. Melitta’s bamboo filters are available in different cone sizes, and are made with 60% bamboo fibers.

Able Brewing has several options in their line of reusable filters, including a KONE filter and a disk filter for AeroPress. Both are available in stainless steel and gold. Instead of the standard mesh design, these filters are photo etched with thousands of very tiny holes. The reviews (see here and here for examples) are strongly positive, although CoffeeKrave has expressed previous concerns over the idea that there is a significant cost savings. For those interested in the the flavor debate, Able Brewing states that the KONE system: “allows for more oils and a fuller bodied cup of coffee than paper.”

Mr. Natural’s features a line of reusable hemp coffee filters, for both cone and basket.

If your environmental concern is more plastic than paper, EkoBrew makes reusable filters for K-Cup single serve brewers.

 

Share your “unfiltered” reactions with us in the comments below!

 

Main Photo: Tonx

Content Photo: Paula Shareski

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