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Friday, June 28, 2013

Coffee Filter Types: Cone vs Basket Coffee Filters

Cone Coffee Filters vs Basket Coffee Filters

One of the main distinctions between auto drip coffee makers is the filter type used. The main choices are cone filters or basket filters. The shape is the difference between filter types. The cone filter is shaped like a cone with the bottom of the filter narrower than the top.

store display of basket and cone coffee filters
Basket coffee filters vs Cone coffee filters: which is better?
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher

The Problem with Basket Coffee Filters

A basket filter is flat on the bottom. The shape of the coffee filter makes a big difference in the coffee flavor. Since the basket filter spreads grounds out over a wider area, uneven brewing can occur. For example, if the hot water from the coffee maker drips in the center of the filter basket, only part of the grounds are fully utilized for brewing coffee, resulting in less coffee flavor. Even with the shower head style auto drip brewer water distribution, the areas directly under the several points where water comes out get more exposure to hot water and other areas of coffee grounds may get damp, but are not fully brewed.

Store display with basket coffee filters
Basket coffee filter options
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher

Basket Coffee Filter Sizes

Basket coffee filters are sold by the coffee maker capacity. Some common basket coffee filter sizes:
  • 4 to 6 cup basket filters
  • 10 cup basket filters
  • 8 to 12 cup filters

Paper Coffee Filter Cost and Paper Types

The cost of coffee filters depends on the brand, quantity, and where you buy. Cone filters cost about 5 cents each, basket filters cost about 4 cents each. As with most products, you can choose different filter quality and paper type. You can get paper coffee filters made with white bleached paper, or with brown unbleached paper. I prefer to use unbleached cone filters. One of the great things about coffee is that it is 100% natural. I like to use unbleached filters to reduce the amount of chemicals involved with making coffee and keep my coffee as natural as possible.

Make Better Coffee with Cone Filters

The cone filter funnels hot water through the grounds more effectively, extracting more flavor from the coffee grounds. Water that is applied at the top of the cone travels through more coffee grounds, extracting more flavor when brewing coffee. Cone filters are a bit more expensive than basket filters and are commonly available at grocery stores.

Cone Coffee Filter Sizes

The standard cone filter sizes are:
  • #1: Fits 1 cup electric cone coffee makers
  • #2: Fits 2-6 cup electric coffee makers and 1 cup non-electric cone coffee makers
  • #4: fits all 8-12 cup cone coffee makers
  • #6: Fits 10 cup non-electric cone coffee makers
For example, my 10 cup thermal cone coffee maker uses #4 cone filters.

Packages of cone coffee filters on store display
Cone coffee filter options
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher

Using a Cone Filter to Make Coffee

The cone filters come flat in a box or a bag. When making coffee with a cone filter, take the cone filter out, fold the filter along the crimp on the side- this will make it stay in a cone shape. Place the filter in your cone filter basket of you coffee maker, and add coffee grounds. If you have switched to a cone filer from a basket filter, you may need to adjust the amount of coffee grounds you use. You may need less coffee grounds with a cone filer.

Cone Filters are Packaged Flat

Cone filter flat like a sheet of paper
Cone coffee is flat when it comes out of the package
Image source: Dr. Penny Pincher

Fold Cone Filter and Place in Coffee Maker

Placement of cone filter in coffee maker
Fold cone filter along the seam and place in your coffee maker
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher

Best Cone Filter Coffee Maker

My coffee maker is a Melitta 10 cup with thermal carafe. It uses a #4 cone filter for the best tasting coffee. The thermal carafe is also a great feature. If you have a coffee maker with a glass pot that sits on a burner, you are not getting the best tasting coffee. It gets stale quickly, and sitting on the burner changes the flavor of the coffee- and not for the better. The thermal carafe keeps the coffee hot and fresh. The combination of a cone filter and thermal carafe is how to make great tasting coffee at home.

Copyright © 2013 Dr. Penny Pincher. All Rights Reserved. Coffee Maker Journal


  1. Just bought my first coffee maker and wasn't sure what filter to buy. This was a big help. The only thing I wish you went into was reusable filters vs paper filters. Still not sure the pros and construction of each. Great post though.

  2. I would note that coffee that touches metal in carafe instantly has a change of flavor that makes it terrible. I only prefer a thermal carafe that is ceramic or glass lined, so coffee never touches metal.

  3. Had a cheap no name cone filtered coffee maker for years. It finally broke so I bought a new coffee maker, brand name. My new coffee maker has a flat basket, and my coffee is not near as good as it was in the cone coffee maker. Wish I would have known how important this was.