About a week ago, my cloth Aeropress filter arrived from The Cloth Filter Co. I bought the filter because I was curious about cloth filtration and also because a roaster from whom I was buying coffee, Glen Lyon, happened to sell one. Cloth filtration was on my mind for a while, to the extent that I seriously considered purchasing a Nel dripper, and I thought a cloth Aeropress filter would be the cheapest way to try cloth filtration.
I have been using the Aeropress a lot more over the last week which has given me plenty of opportunities to test the filter. Since my cloth filter arrived, I have brewed almost every cup of Aeropress coffee I have had with the filter. This was not just out of my interest in testing the filter: the coffee that the Aeropress makes with a cloth filter is absolutely delicious.
Cloth filters are said to be a hybrid between metal and paper filters. I would say a more accurate description of cloth filters is that they produce a clean, almost buttery cup of coffee. I use the word "buttery" not in terms of flavour but rather texture. The coffee feels a little bit heavier, but not like the French press which comes with silt that I personally do not enjoy in my coffee.
I keep my cloth filter in a small tub whose original purpose I believe was to store food. The tub is just big enough to give me room to store enough water so that my cloth filter is entirely submerged in the water. This is important because if the cloth filter is allowed to dry out old coffee oils can stick in the filter and potentially cause a problem. Well, this is what I have heard. I have no experience with rancid coffee oils impacting my filter, but I do not want to find out. So, I will stick with the advice and keep the filter submerged in water.
When I go to use my Aeropress, I take my cloth filter out of the tub and give it a shake to remove some of the liquid on the filter. I then place the filter into the Aeropress and make sure the filter is positioned as central as possible. This is important because if the filter is not positioned correctly some sediment can get into your cup. I made one cup of coffee which had some silt in the last sip. This was a great surprise until I realised I probably did not do a good enough job of attaching the filter. I often look into my Aeropress brewing chamber after screwing on the filter cap to make sure there are no visible signs that the filter is not correctly positioned. Attaching the filter to the filter cap is not difficult: you just need to be careful.
Immediately after use, I rinse the cloth filter, usually with hot water. I do this for about 20-30 seconds before immediately placing the filter back into my storage tub. I put fresh water in the tub before I put the newly-cleaned cloth filter in to make sure that there are no residual coffee oils left in the water which may build up over time. Then I put my tub back in the fridge so that my filter is ready for when I need to use it again.
Cloth filters do take more work than regular paper filters. I made a cup of coffee with two paper filters this morning and I was reminded of how much I enjoy the experience of just pushing the puck and paper filters out of the Aeropress and into the bin. With a cloth filter, I have to take the cloth filter off the puck (which is usually very hot, so I have to be careful), deposit the puck, and then wash the filter. Then I have to go through the aforementioned storage procedure.
With that said, I believe the work it takes to maintain a cloth filter is worth it. I already loved the Aeropress before using a cloth filter but now I like the coffee the Aeropress makes even more. I will still probably use paper filters, especially if I am making an Aeropress while away from home (like I do in the local park every so often right now), but the cloth filter is definitely something I want to keep using. The coffee tastes buttery, clear, and above all else, delicious. If you have not tried a cloth filter yet, I'd recommend giving one a go (assuming you feel comfortable with the effort of maintaining a cloth filter).