Cone vs Flat Coffee Filter – Does Filter Shape Impact Coffee Flavor?

You enjoy a delicious cup of Joe and you might wonder what kind of beans were used, where they came from, or even how strong the coffee is. Yet, most people never wonder whether the shape of the filter has any impact until they bought the wrong type for their coffee machine and it doesn’t fit. You’re one of them? Has it ever happened to you? Let’s find out whether there are any differences in the brewed coffee depending on whether you’re using a cone vs basket filter!

There’s nothing like a fresh cup of coffee to wake up your senses in the morning. Although all coffee lovers agree on that fact, it’s a totally different case when we talk about flavors of coffee.

Some like their coffee dark and intense, while others prefer a more mellow brew. Luckily, there are many factors that can affect the way your coffee tastes, so everyone can create something they like!

Among the elements that can change the flavor of your coffee is the shape of the filter you use. Today, we’ll explore cone vs flat coffee filters, along with other filter shapes that you may encounter.

Why Are the Different Coffee Filter Shapes?

Before answering this question, we should discuss the full purpose of the filter and how it works.

Not only will this make it easier to understand the different shapes, but it’ll also help you decide on the ideal one for you.

The Purpose of a Filter

As you know, there are different kinds of coffee with various grind sizes (Best Coffee Grind for French Press?) and preparation methods. These methods vary in the final coffee taste as well as consistency.

Coffee isn’t made of one element. A single cup of coffee might contain a lot of different particles and compounds. Some of these compounds are soluble in water while others aren’t. There are also particles of different sizes inside a cup of coffee.

One of the keys behind the coffee’s consistency is the amount of small insoluble particles you have in your cup. However, these particles are also bitter in taste and can easily mask the taste of your drink, so you have to be careful not to have a lot of them in your cup.

That’s where a filter comes in to save the day. After you add the water to the coffee. Some of the flavoring compounds of the coffee beans dissolve in the water. These particles give it the acidic taste, aroma, and even the color of the coffee – Try your Coffee with dissolved Cinnamon.

However, when you use a filter, it’ll separate the liquid from the coffee grounds. In other words, a filter won’t only trap the coffee grounds, it’ll also prevent all the tiny particles that you don’t want in your cup. Any shape will keep most of those particles from ending up in your cup. There won’t be a difference in that regard when comparing cone vs basket filters.

Different Shapes Affect the Taste of Your Coffee

It won’t take you long until you notice that coffee filters aren’t just one thing. In fact, these filters are made out of different materials, such as paper and metal.

But there are also different shapes of filters, like conical and basket shapes. As you now know, a filter has a direct influence on what goes into your cup of coffee and what stays out.

This allows us to understand that different shapes might have different levels of influence on your cup.

While you might not be able to distinguish between two filters with your naked eye, they can have different pore sizes. The size of the pores tells us more about the kind and size of particles that make it to the final drink.

For these reasons, all coffee aficionados pay a lot of attention to the kind and shape of the filter they’re using.

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Different Shapes Are Used in Different Brewing Styles

Using different filter shapes won’t only affect taste and consistency, but also the style.

There’s a wide variety of methods to brew your coffee. Each one of these techniques has different conditions. For some methods, using a specific shape of a filter might be preferred or even mandatory.

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What Other Shapes of Coffee Filters Are There Besides Cone and Flat Filters?

Now that you know the reasons for different coffee filter shapes. It’s time to have a closer look at each one of them.

In general, filters are available in 3 popular shapes, which are cone (conical), flat (disk) filter, and basket filter. Let’s check them all out!

Cone Coffee Filter

Cone filters have a tapered bottom and a much wider opening at the top. Cone filters are ideal for the pour-over brewing technique, as the conical shape slows down the coffee dripping process.

Cone filters come in different sizes that are standardized. These sizes range from 1 to 6. The bigger the coffee filter number, the more coffee cups such cone filters can filter.

Disk Coffee Filter

The disk-shaped filter is one of the smallest filters by size when compared to other shapes. However, it doesn’t follow an exact sizing standard like other types. Instead, Its exact size is affected by the kind of coffee maker they’re used for.

This shape is usually used with AeroPress brewing machines. Also, they’re sometimes used as a replacement filter for the French Press machine.

Basket Coffee Filter

The basket filter is the visual standard that you think of when someone mentions a filter. From the name, you can conclude that basket filters are shaped like a basket. However, basket filters look more like a bucket than a basket.

Its shape also resembles a large cupcake wrapper, which is why they are called a “cupcake filter”. The basket shape filter has a wide opening at the top that’s usually larger in surface area than the bottom. The bottom of the basket filters is characterized by being also flat.

What Impact Does Basket Shape Have on Brewed Coffee?

Now that you know how a filter works and the different shapes of filters, it’s time to investigate the impact of the shape on the taste of your coffee.

For a long time, every coffee expert had a different view on the effect of brewing in different filter shapes. Some of them claim that it does impact the taste, while others claim that it doesn’t.

Luckily, a recent study was conducted to answer this question. According to Professor William Ristenpart, the director of UC Davis Coffee Center, filter shapes do impact the coffee taste!

In the experiment, the team used the exact same conditions for everything except the filter shape. For example, they used the same coffee type, roast, water temperature, and brewing method.

The research had two groups of participants for each type. Surprisingly, each noted different flavor profiles, confirming that the filter shape will affect the taste!

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Why Does Basket Shape Matter?

According to the research team at UC Davis Coffee Center, the exact reason for the different tastes is unknown. However, there are some logical explanations that can show why a basket shape matters.

They believe that the shape of the filter influences the way water flows through the coffee grounds. Since brewing is a physical process where solid coffee molecules dissolve in the hot water.

The flow pattern in different shapes also affects the quantity and quality of coffee particles extracted in water.

Are Cone Coffee Filters Better?

There’s an ongoing debate whether a cone filter is better than a flat one or not. While their final impact on coffee taste will always be a matter of perspective, some other aspects are more obvious.

Let’s have a critical comparison between cone filters and the others in terms of some important aspects.


While a filter shouldn’t be rated by its price, it’s important to know that these filters come at different prices. In fact, even the same kind of filter with the same pore size will cost you differently according to its brand.

As a rule of thumb, you should expect a cone filter to be priced slightly higher than both disk and basket filters.

Bleached vs. Unbleached

Since the three of them are paper, you can also choose between bleached or unbleached varieties.

Unbleached paper filters are usually brown in color while bleached ones are chemically processed to be white. Ideally, the only concern regarding the two types is how they’re made.

However, some users claim that an unbleached filter adds a tinge of “paper” to the coffee – Brown vs White Coffee Filters – Bleached or Unbleached Paper Filters?.

Compatibility with Coffee Makers

One of the factors that will steer your decision about the ideal filter for you is the type of coffee maker you have.

For example, if your coffee maker recommends a single type of filter, like a conical or basket filter, then you shouldn’t try using a different one. Things might vary from causing some mess to breaking your coffee machine.

So, unless you’re willing to make an investment in a new coffee maker (Aeropress vs Chemex Coffee Maker – Which Brewer makes better Coffee?) that works with a different type of filter, you need to stick to your filter shape.

Ease of Brewing

The secret behind the brewing process is to keep the hot water in contact with the coffee grounds. After that, the coffee should start dripping from the filter and into your carafe or cup.

From the water’s point of view, if it runs too fast over the coffee without staying in contact for long enough, the resultant coffee might taste mild or bland. However, if you keep the water for too long, the coffee will taste bitter.

With flat filters, such as basket and disk filters, some parts of the grounds might have less contact with water than the others. This causes some kind of uneven brewing with a mild flavor.

The advantage of a cone-shaped filter is that it acts as a funnel. So, it guides the water to come in contact with all coffee grounds. However, prolonged contact is more likely in a cone filter, so you have to adjust the amount of brewing time according to the shape of the filter.

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Final Thoughts

There you have it. A complete guide that compares cone vs basket vs flat filter. As you can see, there are different shapes of filters that are used for various reasons.

The debate on whether the shape of the filter will affect the taste or the quality of your coffee is settled by science.

Different coffee filter shapes have different drip patterns, which results in different levels of coffee extraction, and therefore, changes the coffee’s taste!

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Learn more about coffee, espresso, cappuccino, lattes here. Enjoy them hot or iced!

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