Can you use a paper towel as a coffee filter?
While coffee lovers are arguing about what brand have the best taste, they generally agree in one thing – most of them like those that “went through the filter”.
This way, preparation of coffee uses ground and roasted beans, that give the best caffeinated beverage better and more diversified taste. It often depends on the filter itself, which can be metal, plastic or paper and additionally affects the taste of coffee that will end up in our mugs.
The most delicious and cleanest coffee, without sludge and excess coffee’s oils, you will get right through the paper filter.
And everything would be perfect for this selection of filters except for one little flaw – these filters are for single use, and at least one of us happen to forget to replenish “ammunition”, so it can be quite a shock in the morning when you find your box of filters empty.
So, you wake up and automatically go to the kitchen to prepare your morning caffeine energy bomb without which you are completely dysfunctional – and experience a shock… The last filter paper “disappeared” yesterday and you completely forgot to buy a new package.
You have three options:
- you will go to a coffee shop that is probably not so close and be late for work,
- you will leave the house without having your morning coffee or –
- at that moment the tiny bulb in your head turns on – can paper towel be an acceptable replacement? Well, it’s made of paper, is not it? At the same time, you think that you have just proved to yourself that a small genius is hiding in you, who will save you time and money with this glorious invention.
We decided to examine this idea and found out that in fact there are no major differences between paper coffee filters and paper towels. But…
Way of using
Since paper towel is a lot softer, you should double-fold it in order to avoid tearing in contact with hot water and deterioration of sediment in your mug. Using cheaper paper towel, with less quality, you would hardly be able to “do the job” – it’s likely that this scenario will be disastrous. While a paper towel with better quality would be a worthy replacement for a coffee filter.
After you have doubled them, tilt them into a tin and put in a filter. And try to pour boiling water as slowly as you can.
What about the taste?
Let’s say that the possibility of absorption is the biggest difference between usual coffee filters and paper towels, which results in a slightly different taste of coffee.
Paper towels are better absorbents, so more coffee oils and other additives stay on them, and you get a “cleaner” coffee, which has a bit weaker taste. Some people prefer this, others do not.
Is use of paper towels safe for us?
Although coffee filtering is possible with the help of paper towel, it is quite clear that this isn’t their purpose. We are sorry that we have to disappoint you, but since this product is not intended for use in preparation of food and drinks, it is logical that we ask ourselves – is this healthy?
First of all, paper towels are not naturally white, which means they go through the bleaching process. Besides that, they often have traces of ink and glue.
The chemical bleaching process, which is most commonly done by chlorine, is the main reason why we should think twice when this “genius idea” comes to our minds. This chemical, which is on paper, and its derivative chlorine dioxide, are minimally harmful when we use the paper for what it is intended for – external use. But when it comes in contact with hot water these chemicals become more carcinogenic and their harmfulness to our organism increases dramatically.
What about brown paper towels?
They have not undergone aggressive bleaching process, but they also have a lot of other chemicals which are harmful and not for internal use. Besides that they are changing the taste of coffee, so consumers would rarely opt for them.
Why is the filter paper safe?
The first papers for coffee filtering were blotting papers, but today they are made mostly from plain paper – that is white. So, officially acceptable filter paper also goes through the bleaching process. And yet, there is a difference between them and paper towels.
Filter paper is considerably less toxics, primarily due to more rough structure and passed medical tests, which officially declared it safe to come in contact with what we bring in ourselves.
So anyone smart enough, without a second thought, would advise you to use original filter paper when preparing coffee instead of using paper towels.
But do not worry
Therefore, you can use a paper towel as a coffee filter, but if you don’t have to there’s no need for that. This is a great idea that can solve your problems in the short term, or until you get to the first coffee shop – in this case it is completely harmless.
In the long term we would not recommend its use, due to all of the above defects.