Chemex enthusiasts revere the Chemex paper filters because they yield clean, light-bodied, and delightful coffee. Most people feel that if you substitute different filters in Chemex, then you can’t call it a Chemex: you just have a glass jar and a substitute filter.
The argument is that the robust double-bonded Chemex filters are the real brewer and the glass jar is just that: a jar.
However, the fact that the Chemex paper filters are single-use and relatively costly has prompted Chemex users to seek substitutes for Chemex filters. In this article, we shall examine six substitutes for Chemex filters.
Here is our ranked list of Chemex filter alternatives
- Able Kone reusable filter
- Coffee sock for Chemex
- Barista warrior reusable filter
- Apace living reusable filter
- Zulay stainless steel filter
- Hario V60 paper filter
The Able Kone filter ranks as the best alternative to Chemex filters.
- Durability. The Able Kone can last for several years without losing its shape or falling apart
- Features a rim that sits on top of the Chemex glass hence easing the removal of the filter after brewing
- Easy to clean and dishwasher safe: its hole design minimizes clogging and traps fewer oils. Gently knock the filter against a trash can to remove the grounds and rinse the Able Kone after brewing
- Adds no foreign aromas or taste to your coffee. The filter is certified as safe for food and is made from stainless steel with a BPA-free ring at the top.
- Yield deeper coffee that has more body than Chemex filters. The design allows coffee oils to seep through
- Uniform Extraction. The hole design (square-to-round) evens the flow of water through the grounds.
- Fits Chemex 6, 8, and 10 cups
- Safe to handle. It is made using one piece of stainless steel that is precision welded at the seam and tip to give a flat finish that is safe to handle. The welding technology also creates a tight and flawless seal
Use a medium-coarse grind size when using Able Kone with Chemex to prevent grounds from leaking into the carafe.
Cons of Able Kone In Chemex
- Allows finer sediments into the coffee, unlike the Chemex filters that brew clean coffee.
- It does not fit in a 3-cup Chemex
- Although a one-time cost, the Able Kone is relatively costlier than the other metallic reusable coffee filters for Chemex
#2. Coffee Sock For Chemex
The coffee sock for Chemex is a two-ply reusable filter that is made from organic cotton by a family business that is based in Austin, Texas. It yields superior coffee as compared to other plastic, paper, or metal options.
The sock filters out the bitterness and delivers sediment-free coffee that has balanced acidity and is rich in flavor and aromatic oils. The coffee is also fuller-bodied than that from a paper filter.
How to Use a Coffee Sock In Chemex
Before using a coffee sock filter for the first time, boil it in water for about 10 minutes to shrink it and to eliminate the taste of fabric. This coffee sock filter for Chemex is compatible with the 6, 8, 10, and 13 cups Chemex models.
For a 3-cup Chemex, we recommend a different coffee sock from the same company which is specifically made for a 3-cup carafe. See the coffee sock for a 3-cup Chemex.
A finer grind than that of a Chemex paper is desirable when using a fabric filter with Chemex. Consider experiementing with the grind size to come up with an appropriate size for your brew.
Clean the fabric filter after brewing
How To Clean A Coffee Sock Filter
After brewing your coffee, discard the coffee grounds and gently brush off stubborn grounds from the fabric. Rinse the fabric thoroughly before hanging it to air and dry.
Regularly, every 6-8 weeks, boil the filter to remove oils that build up over time. Add a dash of bicarbonate of soda for freshness.
You can also soak the filter in detergents such as cafiza or oxyclean to remove the oils and stains. Add a teaspoon of cafiza powder to an empty glass, add hot water and soak the sock in the glass for about 30 minutes. Thoroughly rinse the sock after cleaning with a detergent.
How To Store A Coffee Sock Filter
Poorly storing a sock filter can result in foreign tastes finding their way into your coffee. Musty odors and taste due to dampness can permeate into the coffee. There are two ways to store a sock cloth:
- Hang the sock to dry and avoid mixing it with other fabrics such as kitchen towels
- Freeze the sock. Wet the clean sock and put it in a Ziplock or container with a little water and put it in the freezer.
- Wet the sock, put it in a small container, and put it in the refrigerator
Pros of Using A Coffee Sock In Chemex
- The sock is made from organic cotton thus no dangerous chemicals are used. Organic cotton is also eco-friendlier than regular cotton. It is biodegradable.
- The filter is reusable for up to 12 months
- Yields coffee that has more depth and is fuller-bodied than Chemex filters
- It is cheaper than the other alternatives to Chemex filters
- It keeps the coffee fines out of your coffee unlike metallic filters
Cons of A Sock Filter
- It is difficult to clean, especially, if it’s not cleaned after brewing. Removing stubborn grounds from the fabric is an arduous task that can cause frustration.
- It requires careful storage to prevent molds
- Not suitable for a 3 cup carafe
This reusable stainless steel filter is dual-walled with a fine mesh that prevents sediments from dropping into the carafe but allows oils to flow through. It features a slip-resistant silicone ring at the rim that eases handling and also prevents the filter from slipping into the jar. It is available in 3 colors: gold, copper, and silver.
It fits comfortably in the 6, 8, and 10-cup Chemex carafes.
Like the Able Kone, it is dishwasher safe and easy to clean. Dump the wet grounds after brewing and rinse the filter with warm water to remove coffee oil.
The main drawback to using the Barista Warrior pour-over filter is that it tends to clog when using a fine to medium-fine grind. When clogged the grounds are stubborn to remove even after soaking in vinegar. A medium-coarse to coarse grind will prevent clogging.
Experiment with a grounds to water ratio of between 1:15 to 1:30 to establish a desirable extraction time, within the recommended range of 2.5-4 minutes, and brew strength.
#4. Apace Living Reusable Filter
The Apace living reusable filter for Chemex has a wide rim that fits on the 6, 8, and 10-cup Chemex carafes. It is double-layered and has a wide metallic base with a rubber ring that sits on the carafe’s rim when brewing. It is easy to clean and dishwasher safe.
The main drawbacks are:
- Like most of the metallic filters, it does not fit in a 3-cup Chemex
- it is likely to clog over time if not properly handled
- the rubber ring tends to easily dislodge. However, using the filter without the ring has no effect on your brew
#5. Zulay Reusable Filter For Chemex
The Zulay reusable filter for Chemex, a product of Zulay Kitchen, is made from flexible stainless steel. The filter gives a clean cup of coffee that is similar to that from the Able Kone – rich in body.
The main advantage of the Zulay reusable filter is that it is compatible with the Chemex 3-cup carafe (hard to find). The filter is dishwasher safe.
Disadvantages of The Zulay Reusable Filter For Chemex
- It tends to tear and fall apart around the seam with time. The filter can start leaking around the seams over time.
- Can be difficult to clean due to its flexible design. Knocking wet grounds can be a challenge especially when the filter collapses to a flat shape.
- Difficult to use in bigger carafes because it is small in size and lacks a ring to stop it from slipping into the carafe
Although the Zulay reusable for filter for Chemex does not last for a long time it is still a good substitute for Chemex paper, at least for a couple of months before it starts falling apart.
#6. Hario V60 Paper Filter
Hario V60 paper filters are designed for the Hario V60 coffee maker but will also fit your small Chemex. Hario V60 filters are lighter and yield a cuppa that is slightly fuller than Chemex filters because V60 filters allow more oils to filter through.
Tips When Using Hario V60 Paper Filter On Chemex
- Insert a chopstick or straw alongside the spout to prevent the Hario V60 filter from collapsing onto the spout. The Hario V60 paper filter has a lighter paper that collapses easily when wet.
- Grind your beans finer than your regular grind size for Chemex filters. The lighter and thinner V60 paper filter passes coffee through faster than Chemex papers and causes under-extraction. Grinding your beans finer slows down the extraction and ensures sufficient extraction.
Pros of Using Hario V60 Papers on Chemex
- They yield filtered coffee that has a bigger body than the classic Chemex filters
- They do not need cleaning as they are single-use
- They yield healthier coffee with fewer diterpenes than metallic filters. See how cafestol and other diterpenes are removed from coffee.
Drawbacks To Using Hario V60 Paper Filter In A Chemex
- The smaller sized V60 paper filters can easily fall into the carafe
- The filter is likely to collapse to the spout especially when brewing large amounts of coffee (more than half a liter)
Key Tips When Using A Reusable Metallic Filter For Chemex
When using a stainless steel filter in the Chemex
- Use the right grind size to avoid clogging
- Dump the used grounds immediately after brewing and rinse the mesh under warm water to remove the oils and grounds remnants
- Regularly, once a month, soak the filter in a solution of equal parts of water and vinegar to remove stubborn oils and grounds.
- Avoid forcefully knocking the filter when dumping the grounds to prevent damage
3 Key Tips When Buying a Pour-Over Reusable Filter
Material of The Filter
The coffee filter should be made of materials that do not alter the taste and aroma of the coffee. For example, stainless steel does not influence the flavor of the coffee. The material should also have a food-safe certification and BPA free in the case of plastic.
The material of the filter determines the type of care that the filter needs. For example, a coffee sock requires proper storage to prevent mildew.
The Structural Integrity of The Filter
A flexible filter such as the Zulay poses challenges when trying to dump grounds after use because it tends to fold. Although the filter is handy when brewing with a 3-cup carafe, it folds and slips easily when using a bigger carafe.
A metallic filter with a flat bottom is safe to handle.
Size of the Rim
The diameter of the rim of a metallic filter determines if it is suitable for the size of your carafe. A wider rim is likely to fit several sizes of carafes whereas a narrow rim will probably fit the smallest carafe.
The Chemex filter alternatives are compatible with other pour-over brewers such as the Hario V60 coffee maker. Apart from the Hario V60 filter and the coffee sock, the other Chemex filter substitutes are stainless steel reusable filters.
The foldable Zulay reusable filter is suitable for the Chemex carafe for 3 cups. Metallic filters unlike the sock and paper filters, allow more oil and some fines to seep through and the resulting coffee has a bold flavor.
If you prefer a coffee that is full in body and has more oils, stainless steel filters are a suitable choice. The coffee sock is ideal if you prefer a middle-ground between the light-bodied and bright paper filter coffee and the full-bodied coffee from a metallic filter.
Our previous tests for regular coffee filters in a Chemex have demonstrated that they are undesirable and a bad choice.
FAQs About Chemex Filter Alternatives
Can you use different filters on a Chemex?
Yes, you can use different filters in a Chemex such as stainless filters, a coffee sock, or Hario V60 paper filters. However, avoid using generic paper filters.
Why Are Stainless Steel Filters So Popular?
Stainless steel is resistant to corrosion and high temperatures. It’s also easy to clean and does not change the aroma or flavor of your coffee. We wrote a separate article that details the advantages of stainless steel coffee filters.