I know a lot of coffee lovers will agree with me on this – The Chemex just makes life better! I also know that many people have plenty of complaints about the gaping hole that special Chemex filters leave in your wallet.
The filters are priced at an astonishing average of $10 for a pack of 100, which is essentially double the price as compared to other renowned brands. Well, I’ve had enough of carrying the burden of Chemex expenses on my back and decided to do some research on using regular, inexpensive filters for the appliance.
And guess what?
Can You Use Regular Filters for Chemex?
Yes, you can use regular filters for your Chemex, but, as with everything that sounds too good to be true, there are caveats.
So, while paper alternatives can be used, you probably won’t find anything that’s comparable to the actual Chemex filters. And, if you can afford them, I don’t see any need for you to make unnecessary changes in your coffee routine.
However, this is not to say that regular filters can’t get the job done as well as Chemex filters. Even more, there are several reusable filters (Even pour-over coffee makers equipped with reusable filters) in the market that are much better poised to take on the mighty Chemex.
Before we get into cost-saving (and some planet-saving!) alternatives, let’s try to understand why they are so costly in the first place. What’s so special about them? What do they have that regular filters don’t?
What’s So Great About Chemex Filters?
Molded exactly to sit pretty on top of your Chemex and work its magic, the Chemex filters are 20-30% heavier than other competitive brands. They are scientifically tested in the Chemex laboratories and are guaranteed not to burst under the weight of the liquid during filtration, or when lifting out the grounds.
The filters are designed to remove the finest sediment particles as well as undesirable oils and fats. The formulation of the filter permits the proper infusion time by regulating the filtration rate – not too slow, not too fast.
A good infusion of the coffee grounds gives coffee a richer flavor. It also makes precise fractional extraction possible, filtering out the undesirable components that make coffee bitter, and only allowing the desirable flavor elements of the coffee bean to pass through.
Best Alternative to Chemex Filters
Generally, coffee experts all over the world agree that there aren’t many paper equivalents for the Chemex filters out there. One of the main reasons for this is the thickness of the filters.
While the Chemex filters are double-bonded and can survive the on-pour of water, other paper filters tend to be much thinner and often collapse during the process.
However, I did a little snooping around and certain paper filter brands have begun to see the demand for thicker filters and have stepped up their game.
The two brands that stood out the most were Melitta and Hario. Let’s filter right into how these brands do when pitted against our beloved Chemex!
Can You Use Melitta Filters in a Chemex?
The Natural Brown #2 Cone Filters by Melitta are recommended by most coffee enthusiasts out there also trying to save some money. These filters are known to let the true flavor of coffee shine through and guarantee “rich, flavorful coffee”.
However, they are not double-bonded and thus not as thick as the Chemex filters – but they do get the job done if you pour in slowly and with care.
What Are Melitta Coffee Filters Made Of?
The Natural Brown Melitta filters are made from natural unbleached virgin pulp paper for strength and purity. They are chlorine-free, gluten-free, Kosher certified, and compostable.
The double crimped seal keeps them from bursting or coming apart when water is poured.
These filters are also equipped with microfine flavor enhancing perforations, allowing the full coffee flavor to filter through while trapping bitter grounds and sediments for a rich, flavorful cup of coffee.
On the other hand, there will be a significant taste difference as these are naturally-made filters, but if you can look past that, the Melitta filters can make a solid Chemex alternative that is strong enough and budget-friendly.
In a nutshell, here below are all the facts comparing the two filters – I will leave you to decide what works best in your specific case.
Chemex Filters vs. Melitta Natural Brown Filters
|Criteria||Chemex Filters||Melitta Natural Brown Filters|
|Price||9-10$ / 100 pack||5-6$ / 100 pack|
|Strength||Double-Bonded 100% Success Rate||Single Paper Layer Double-Crimped Seal 80% Success Rate|
|Paper Quality||Both Natural and Bleached Filters Available||Natural Unbleached Filters Only|
|Taste||No External or Manufacturing Factors Affecting Taste (except in case of natural filters)||Unbleached Filters May Adversely Affect the Taste|
As always, I would also suggest borrowing a Melitta Filter from a friend or colleague and trying it out before you make a decision. After all, you never know, you might actually like the taste of slightly cardboardy coffee.
Can You Use Hario V60 Filters in a Chemex?
Another paper filter alternative for Chemex filters is the Hario V60 Coffee Filters, which are made for a competing coffee maker and therefore, work well with the Chemex.
These pour-over filters by Hario are also oxygen bleached and keep the flavor mostly intact.
However, if you’re using any paper filter not specifically designed for the Chemex you will always need to be wary of collapsed sides, so pour gently and keep your eye on the filter itself so that it doesn’t cave in.
What Are Hario V60 Filters Made Of?
The Hario filters are made from 100% oxygen bleached paper pulp. Like the Chemex counterparts, they are specially designed to fit the V60 drippers, with limited flow restriction to enhance clarity and balance in the coffee.
Both appliances are quite similar in shape and functionality, and therefore the filters are easily interchangeable. Hario also offers Natural Brown Misarashi filters that are made with 100% unbleached paper pulp.
Chemex Filters vs. Hario V60 Filters
|Criteria||Chemex Filters||Melitta Natural Brown Filters|
|Price||9-10$ / 100 pack||6-7$ / 100 pack|
100% Success Rate
|Not Double-Bonded but Comparably Sturdy|
90% Success Rate
|Paper Quality||Both Natural and Bleached Filters Available||Both Natural and Bleached Filters Available|
|Taste||No External or Manufacturing Factors Affecting Taste (except in case of natural filters)||No External or Manufacturing Factors Affecting Taste (except in case of natural filters)|
In my opinion and based on the comparisons, the Hario V60 Filters are poised to do much better with a Chemex than the Melitta ones. But, I will let you experiment with both and judge for yourself.
Can You Reuse Chemex Filters?
Using Chemex filters more than once is not recommended. They are made for brewing a single batch of coffee in your Chemex coffee maker. If you wish to use a coffee filter more than once, you’ll need to look into a coffee filter specifically designed to be reusable.
And I will get to those in a bit.
Now, if you’ve also been actively trying to reduce your carbon footprint in order to save our planet by using reusable coffee filters, there is some great news.
Chemex Reusable Filters vs Paper Filters
There are several reusable filters (made from metal and fabric) that can work with Chemex as well as the company’s own filters.
In fact, a lot of the companies driven by demand are working towards making reusable filters that are specially designed to fit a Chemex.
Moreover, not only are reusable filters good for the environment, being a one-time investment, but they are also extremely good for your wallet. A reusable filter can cost anywhere between $10 to $40 but will easily last you more than 2-5 years.
That compared to the recurring cost of paper filters is basically nothing.
In fact, the price for the most expensive reusable filter will only buy you 6 months’ worth of Chemex filters.
If you’re curious to find out more, I have done the research and compiled the most compatible reusable filters, so all you have to do is try the one that best fits your needs.
Best Reusable Filters for Chemex
As I mentioned, here are some of the reusable filters that will adapt well with your Chemex appliance:
Able Kone Reusable Coffee Filter
Specifically designed for Chemex, the Able Kone Reusable Coffee Filter is made of stainless steel and plastic; it brews pour-over coffee in an easy, efficient, and hassle-free way, all the while living up to the uncompromising standards of coffee professionals
The square-to-round hole design effectively prevents sediment from passing through the filter (which is a complaint that coffee enthusiasts often make with metal filters), it also optimizes water flow rate whether you’re brewing a single cup or larger batch.
This reusable filter is easy to clean, extremely durable and brews a fantastic cuppa.
The multi-faceted Able Kone Reusable Coffee Filter fits 6, 8, and 10 cup Chemex coffee makers, as well as Ratio Eight, Technivorm Moccamaster, and Bonavita automatic drip brewers.
The entire Kone filter, including all stainless steel and plastic parts, is also certified food safe by Intertek, an industry leader in food safety and quality assurance.
Barista Warrior Reusable Pour Over Filter for Chemex and Hario V60
Guaranteed to “never strip your coffee of its natural oils and nutrients ever again”, the Barista Warrior Reusable Pour Over Filter is a titanium-coated stainless steel cone-shaped appliance made to fit 6, 8, and 10 Chemex coffee makers.
It is equipped with a dual filtration system which helps in preventing any coffee grounds from escaping through. The filtration system is basically made of a stainless steel mesh paired with a laser-cut filter on the inside.
The Barista Warrior Reusable Pour Over Filter is also easy to clean – To do that, simply run it under hot water.
For descaling; once in two weeks or a month (depending on how often you use it), simply soak the filter in a distilled vinegar and warm water solution.
CoffeeSock Organic Reusable Coffee Filters
Made from organic ethically sourced cotton, the CoffeeSock Organic Reusable Coffee Filter is just as capable of a perfect filtration process as the special Chemex filters.
CoffeeSock filters do a good job absorbing some of the oils released by coffee grounds during the filtration process, resulting in a robust, full-bodied cup of coffee.
Unlike paper filters, they don’t absorb a lot of flavors nor induce a papery feel to the drink.
The CoffeeSock Filter, made to fit a Chemex 6-13 cup carafe, is also easy to maintain and clean; once you dispose of the used coffee grounds, rinse thoroughly with water and hang the filter to dry.
And there you have it! These are just the best reusable filters available in the market currently.
However, note that there is a fast-growing demand for these and more and more companies will jump on the bandwagon to produce new, better alternatives for Chemex filters that are easy on your wallet and the planet.
All we need to do is, try out the new ones and compare notes until we finally find that one superhero filter that fulfills everyone’s Chemex dreams.
Speaking of Chemex filters and what makes them so special, let’s delve deeper into what they’re made of.
Are they really worth the hype and the money?
What Are Chemex Coffee Filters Made Of?
The Chemex filters are made of laboratory-grade paper and are specifically designed to filter out impurities, all unhealthy and bitter elements from the coffee. They are double-bonded and usually undergo hot water baths for cleansing and preparation.
Chemex white vs brown filters
The difference between typical white and brown filters is the oxygenation process, also known as bleaching. Most people prefer the white filters because the brown ones inject a papery or cardboard-like taste in the beverage.
However, ultimately it does depend on personal preferences and your commitment to naturally made products. In the case of Chemex filters, both white and brown filters are available in the market.
Are Chemex Filters Oxygen Bleached?
The white Chemex filters undergo an elemental chlorine-free oxidizing cleansing bath (bleaching) thus losing their natural brown color.
The elemental chlorine-free bleaching massively reduces the potential of the formation of dioxins as a result of the process and minimizes chlorinated toxic pollutants.
Regardless of the promise of quality, I would like them a lot better if they were priced slightly lower, or maybe if I could use them more than once.
Ever since I purchased one a few years ago, it has become absolutely impossible for me to imagine my kitchen counter without a Chemex.
The elegant and efficient drip coffee brewer has definitely become the most important and beloved appliance in my entire house for that matter. The melodious sound of water trickling through the aromatic caffeinated powder and the crisp taste of the hard-earned cuppa is addictive, to say the least.
As I detailed in this article, it is possible to significantly reduce your expenditure (and carbon footprint as a bonus) when it comes to your Chemex. However, in every case, there are some small adjustments and adaptations that you may have to make.
But at the cost of saving some money and more importantly, saving the planet, no adjustment is truly big enough, is it?
I hope that you were able to find an alternative for your Chemex filter. And if not, I hope that I may have at least convinced you to think about switching to a reusable filter. Either way, don’t forget to share your experience with other filters.
Your experimentations with alternatives could save all of us a lot of time, money, and commitment.
So, if you’ve found a better alternative not mentioned in this article, share with me all about your filtering experience!