Filter Drip Coffee: Paper vs. Metal Filters

One of the best and most popular ways of making coffee is the filter drip method.  Most commonly, the filter used is disposable and is made of paper.  Sometimes, however, reusable metal, often gold-plated, filters are used instead.  Both methods of filtering coffee work to brew good tasting coffee.  However, the use of a metal filter poses certain health risks.

Many people are unaware that coffee beans contain cafestol, a substance that significantly increases levels of cholesterol by inhibiting the body’s ability to process cholesterol.  Paper filters remove this substance from the brewed coffee.  But metal filters do not remove this substance.

Because caffeine provides significant protection to the heart, the harm done by increased cholesterol in metal filtered coffee is “balanced out” by the caffeine in coffee and, therefore, the use of metal filters to make caffeinated coffee does not increase the incidence of heart pathologies.  However, it was proven decades ago in large-scale longitudinal studies that the long-term use of metal filters creates a risk of cardiovascular pathologies if the coffee is decaffeinated.

Braun Gold Coffee Filter

However, you should be aware that, if you use metal filters, even to make caffeinated coffee, you won’t reap the tremendous heart benefits of caffeine that filter drip coffee brewed with paper filters delivers.  The simple fact is, you are better off without the cholesterol that coffee supplies when it isn’t brewed with a paper filter.  So, for the health of your heart, we strongly recommend paper filters instead of metal filters.

(Note that French-press coffee makers do not filter your coffee through paper filters and, therefore, the coffee they make works against the body’s ability to process cholesterol in the same way as coffee made from metal filters!)



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18 Responses to Filter Drip Coffee: Paper vs. Metal Filters

  1. Jennifer says:

    I have been drinking coffee since I was three ( this may sound rediculious but it’s true). That’s 43 years of drinking coffee on a daily basis. I don’t have high cholesterol. I eat a very healthy diet and stay active. Not everyone is effected adversity by cafestol.

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  3. Amy P. says:

    What if you use a metal filter WITH a paper filter? I am trying to avoid plastic.
    I also have really high cholesterol, so I have been warned not to use a metal filter.

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  5. ChemE84 says:

    Cholesterol is fuel for the brain. As long as you maintain low levels of systemic inflammation caused by oxidation and gluten, the absence of the inhibitory effect of the C-reactive protein allows the endothelial system to function properly and remove arterial plaque. LPPLA-2 is a better marker for cardiovascular disease, anyway. I’ll stick with high cholesterol and unoxidized saturated fat and avoid paper filters and low fat foods. I like being able to think and have energy.

    • If you think that high cholesterol is OK, I guess you should do as you say. However, I can’t agree with you. Also, I don’t think paper filters give you more energy than metal ones.

      • ChemE84 says:

        They don’t. I think you might have misunderstood or misread my post. Paper absorbs coffee oils that contribute to the flavor. These oils also contain cholesterol and lipids that give you energy. Metal filters allow the oils to stay in tact rather than remove them. Have you tried bulletproof coffee yet? Lots of good info on that site debunking the cholesterol and saturated fat myths propagated by Ancel Keys and the USDA.

        • Adding cholesterol to your diet is not a good way to get “energy.” Increased cholesterol increases the frequency and intensity of cardiovascular pathologies. That has been proven!

          • Shane says:

            I’ve read the research and the data has been misinterpreted from a causation standpoint for decades. Cholesterol is not a direct contributor to arterial plaque, but endothelial dysfunction and systemic inflammation is. Lp-PLA2 is a better marker for cardiovascular disease than LDL cholesterol. There is empirical data that proves low LDL does not decrease your risk of CVD.

          • I think ChemE84 and Shane have the latest science correct on this one. A lot has changed in our knowledge in the last few years. Look to grains and especially sugar as the real culprits in the rise of dangerous levels of blood cholesterol. Coffee does not contain cholesterol, but it has an effect on the body which mobilizes fats (which are already in the body) into the bloodstream.

  6. OK. This question is a bit confusing. It turns out that many textbooks have this matter wrong. Some plants do contain cholesterol, but the amount they contain is small. However, as I now point out, other ingredients in coffee dramatically increase cholesterol levels.

  7. Glaisne says:

    Your article is wrong. Cholesterol is only found in animals and is not found in any plant. Coffee or any other plant based food does not contain cholesterol.

    • You are wrong. Web sites that tell you this are full of bologna. Some plants DO contain cholesterol and coffee delivers a great deal when you make it in an infusion pot!

      • SSummers says:

        Coffee does not contain cholesterol. It contains cafestol, which has been found to inhibit the body’s ability to process cholesterol. A simple Google search for “coffee cholesterol” brings up several reliable sources.

    • Tony Basiliere says:

      My take on the article is that brewing coffee produces the chemical cafestol and this chemical effects how your body stores cholesterol. Pretty much doing the opposite of a staten drug. It would be sad for an individual who must have a daily dose of French Press coffee have their doctor put them on or increase their cholesterol meds. I always use paper and always pre rinse the paper with hot water and my blood numbers are normal.