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reusable coffee filter and icky coffee

I purchased my first reusable coffee filter, in an attempt to produce less waste and all that. But the filter I purchased lets through the finest bits of the coffee beans and then there's this swirl of "coffee grit" in the bottom of my cup. I've tried not grinding the beans so fine, but still I get this "grit". Do all reusable filters do this or is it just this grocery store model that I purchased? This morning I went back to my trusty unbleached paper filter and had a much happier cuppa.

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  1. I've never liked the reusable ones - there's no way to easily clean out the used grounds without rinsing some down the sink. I'm much happier just throwing the paper filter full of grounds into my composter.

    1. I can't say that I've noticed this problem, and I've used the reusable filters for years.
      But if you're using a "universal" filter, rather than one specific to your coffeemaker, it's possible that the mesh is not fine enough or the water is bubbling over the sides of the filter while brewing.

      1. Was just visiting my parents this weekend and my mom uses a reusable filter that came w/her machine. It definitely lets the grounds through. That said, she had the coffee very finely ground to make espresso (she usually drinks espresso herself), so I'm sure that contributed to the problem.

        1. Reusable filters are a step finer than French Press, but not as fine as paper. Threads about using a press might give you some good ideas. Press users are used to having some sediment. They also claim that paper removes flavorful oils.

          Another thing with reusable filters - how much water do you use to clean them? In an office context without running water and a garbage disposal, I think paper filters are preferable to reusable ones.

          1. I have a Krups gold filter and still have to grind coarser than I'd like for it not to get grits. It came with the machine, too, so there's no fit problem. I've stopped using it.

            1. One of the first gifts my pa-in-law gave me was one of those gold filters. I used it for a while at my wife's insistence, but finally just got sufficiently tired of gritty coffee to go back to paper (which I did very cleverly: I got a Chemex, which she found so cool that I never had to explain my motives). After I became better acquainted with Papa, I noticed that his one cup of coffee per day is made in a French press, so he's used to having to chew it.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Will Owen

                Never had a problem w/ my cuisinart gold filter that came w/ the brewer. Maybe I just am not grinding my beans too finely. No sediment ever and I likes my java black as hell and as strong as the Devil...

                1. re: adamshoe

                  Amen. Have the same machine and I definitely don't mind the grit. Just as with sediment in wine, I don't drink the last of the glass.

              2. Jfood loves the gold filter over the paper filters. He grinds his coffee very fine as well. Yes there is a little residue in the bottom of the coffee cup, so do not drink the last drop. It ain;t Maxwell House.

                1. I suspect that your grind isn't entirely even. Are you using a "whirly-blade" grinder? They generate a fair amount of coffee dust no matter how coarse your average grind. And coffee dust = sludge.

                  A paper filter will keep this sludge out of your cup, but it will also take out flavorful essential oils and suspended particles that give the coffee body. A good conical burr grinder will give you much more uniform particle size, which should lead to less grit. The downside is that they aren't cheap.

                  I don't mind a few solids in the bottom of my cup--IMHO it's easy enough to just pitch the last tablespoon or so. But it sounds like you do. If you don't think your coffee tastes appreciably better using the replaceable filter, maybe paper isn't such a bad way to go.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: alanbarnes

                    you are right alan, I'm using a "whirly-blade" type grinder. I like to grind the beans as I make the coffee, and it does not make it very even. I will look into a conical grinder when this one breaks down... sounds like a good thing to have.

                    I also compost, so putting the filters into the compost bucket with the grounds is no problem... I did not notice a significant difference in the flavor of the coffee with the resusable filter, but I'm not using super high-end coffee either.

                    thanks for all the input folks! :)

                    1. re: jujuthomas

                      ~~I will look into a conical grinder when this one breaks down~~

                      That way lies madness. It may start with a burr grinder, but before you know it you'll be looking at a Pavoni Europiccolas (see photo) and arguing with other coffee geeks about the best roast profile for Panama Geisha beans.

                      Seriously, grinding your beans right before brewing is the best thing you can do to maximize cup quality. The next step would be to make sure you have fresh-roasted coffee. Find a local roaster, and never buy more than you're going to drink in a week. If you're a DIY type, home roasting is surprisingly easy.

                      Then and only then start worrying about equipment, but start with the brewing side of things. You don't have to spend a bunch of money; a <$5 Melitta cone filter holder will allow you to brew at the proper (200F) temperature, which almost no automatic drip machine can do. A vacuum brewer accomplishes the same thing with a little more style, and doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg (http://sweetmarias.com/prod.brewers.v... ).

                      When it comes right down to it, don't make any changes if you're enjoying your coffee as it is. But if you are going to change things up, start with the things that will make the biggest difference in the cup.

                      Time to go brew another pot...

                  2. I use a gold filter for my coffee machine. This is my replacement filter I bought at the local supermarket. I never had a problem with the grit. I also get my beans ground at the shop I buy my coffee. They have a special setting. I go in get my beans and have them "ground for gold."

                    As for cleaning the filter, I dry out the the grinds in the filter before I leave for work and then dump them out and wash the filter when I get home.

                    BTW, someone just gave me an espresso machine. When I bought espresso for it, at my coffee place, they asked me which brand of machine I was using so they could grind the bean accordingly.

                      1. I guess the divide here is between those who don't mind sludge in the cup and those who like good-to-the-last-drop clarity. I may be missing out on some essential oils and/or "body" (the other name for sludge) with my Chemexing, but I prefer mine limpid. I think it tastes good, too.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Will Owen

                          I went back to my unbleached paper filters and had the perfect cuppa this morning. if it ain't broke, don't fix it... as they say. :)