Reusable ceramic pour over coffee makers have been around in Japan for some time, about 30 years. The first ceramic coffee cone was made by Kyuemon in 1986 but since there were no exports, they remained a bit of a secret.
With an increasing interest in sustainability, and the availability of these filters now beyond Japan, they are experiencing a renewed popularity.
The idea is that a ceramic coffee filter that is made once and reused many times will save the need for the manufacturing and use of paper filters.
But do they make good coffee while living up to their sustainable reputation?
In This Guide:
How does it work?
The ceramic is porous. While it doesn’t have visible holes, it has ultra-fine holes that allow the liquid through. It also serves as the filter since the holes don’t allow the coffee grounds through. So you don’t need an additional paper filter. You use it similar to any other pour over dripper.
Brewing with a ceramic filter is similar to other pour overs and you can use a similar technique.
Even though you’re not using a paper filter, it’s still recommended to rinse out the filter with hot water just before brewing. It works better when it’s warm and wet.
Grind size: You should use a coarser grind, similar to a French Press grind.
James Hoffmann recommends using a similar technique as you would with the Hario V60, where you fill it up relatively quickly. This has 2 advantages:
- It creates thermal mass and keeps it warm.
- It should help prevent clogging, which is an issue with this type of ceramic brewer.
Brew time: The overall brew time is longer than with typical pour overs, so the goal is to get the water through the coffee as fast as possible.
Batch size: Due to the slow draw down and potential for clogging, the ceramic filter is best used to make one cup at a time.
Bean type: Generally you’ll get a lighter taste from a ceramic filter, so a dark roast is recommended to ensure full flavor.
According to Loca, brewing with their ceramic filter should remove bitterness.
However, with the slow draw down, there’s potential for the coffee to get over extracted and bitter toward the end. So you don’t want to take too much time getting the water into the brewer
It’s commonly reported that these kinds of filters have an underlying taste that you can’t get rid of. In some cases it may only develop over time. Since cleaning is difficult you won’t be starting from a clean slate each time.
In other cases, your palate might detect the earthiness of the ceramic and that can be an acquired, or possibly unwanted, taste.
Some makers of ceramic filters claim that the far infrared (FIR) effect improves the flavor. However, this seems unsubstantiated and more of a marketing gimmick than anything.
The porous nature of these filters makes thorough cleaning challenging.
Detergents or any type of cloth or other typical dishwashing tool should not be used. The taste will be affected, and fibers from any cloth or sponge will be snagged in the pores leading to clogging.
So a lot of rinsing with hot water is required. You should do this as soon as possible after brewing to make it easier to remove residue, before it dries.
For a really deep cleaning though, it gets more involved. You can use any of these methods:
- Boil it in water
- Invert and place over a gas flame for 15 minutes to burn off any particles
- Put it in your oven at 400F for a few minutes
- If you happen to have access to a kiln, you can fire it.
In addition to brewing coffee, you can also use ceramic filters to remove impurities from water, brew tea or enhance the taste of alcohol:
If you want to give this unique coffee brewing method a try, here’s a couple of options.
COFIL Fuji Ceramic Coffee Filter
Japanese Arita Porcelain High quality Coffee Dripper & Reusable Ceramic Filter set
Japanese Arita Ceramic Filter Only
COFIL Japanese Ceramic Coffee Filter
- Cost-effective, eco-friendly, and reusable ceramic coffee filter - Comes with a ceramic filter holder that holds the filter in place - Fired to perfection to ensure high quality
- This unique coffee dripper is made of ceramic with micropores using the latest technology - Compared to the paper and stainless steel coffee filters, the taste produced with this ceramic filter is smoother and more delicious
- Features a stylish cone-shaped filter, ideal for the pour-over brewing technique, as the conical shape slows down the coffee dripping process - The impurities that cause undesirable taste are filtered away, allowing the natural flavor and sweetness of your coffee to emerge
- It can also be used to filter water, tea, and other beverages (wine, rice wine, and whisky) - It can filter approximately 1-4 cups
- Filter dimensions: 4.44 x 4.44 x 2.08 inches (width x diameter x height) - Filter weight: 0.44 pound
Zero waste or a waste of time?
If you are interested in these filters for eco-friendly reasons you may be disappointed. While it does negate the need for an additional paper filter, the energy and water required for the cleaning and maintenance would seem to counteract any resource efficiency.
From the coffee-making perspective, it could be an interesting experiment or a device that you pull out from time-to-time. They certainly look beautiful but may not be as sustainable as touted and require a lot of patience to maintain. Whether you enjoy the unique taste will also determine the mileage you will get out of one of these.
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