Flat Bottom Coffee Filter Vs Cone (Basket Shape Differences)

Are you someone that enjoys drinking filtered coffee? If so, you may be wondering about the differences between a cone vs flat bottom coffee filter.  

Perhaps it's about the coffee flavor, or maybe it's the extraction time. Whatever the query, we’ll provide you with everything you need to know in this guide.  

1. Coffee Grinds 

In terms of the cone vs flat filter grind size, both flat bottom coffee filters and cone filters are relatively versatile.  

Cone shaped coffee filters work best with a medium-fine grind size. This gives your brewed coffee a better flavor. 

Flat bottom coffee filters give you more freedom as they can be used with any grind size - from coarse to medium or even fine ground coffee beans. 

Since a flat filter shape is more versatile, you may be able to get the most out of your coffee's flavor regardless of grind size.  

2. Coffee Flavor & Taste 

The UC Davis Coffee Center (a specialty coffee association) have done studies on this and found that choosing cone vs flat bottom filter can make a big difference.

Cone coffee filters give you a more robust flavor and taste.

Due to the unique shape of cone filters, the coffee has time to steep and release its flavors. As it has a small surface area, water is able to flow through at a slower rate, therefore resulting in your coffee achieving maximum flavor and aroma.  

In comparison, coffee made with a flat filter shape has a lighter flavor as water comes into contact with the filter for a shorter period of time.  

The coffee taste will vary depending on the beans you use, but you're more likely to get a richer, dried fruit flavor with cone filters.

3. Extraction Time 

Both filters have relatively quick extraction time, but when it comes to the speed of cone vs flat bottom filters - flat filters are quicker.[1

Flat bottom baskets and filters have larger holes, allowing the water to pass through more quickly - so a flat filter basket shape gives you a cup of coffee in less time 

Cone shaped filters take slightly longer to brew coffee. Cone or conical filters might take longer, however, you'll have less of a chance of drinking any unwanted sediments as these elements will be filtered out of the coffee.  

4. Water Flow 

The type of basket filter you use will hugely impact the flow of water which makes your brewed coffee.

Cone filters have a slightly slower water flow compared to flat bottom filters. This is because flat bottom filters have larger holes, letting water flow more quickly through the filter baskets. 

This means you'll get a cup of coffee that's less intense in flavor, aroma, and caffeine.  

While a cone shaped filter baskets do take more time, it allows more oils and flavors to be released so you get a darker and richer cup from your coffee brewer. 

5. Type Of Coffee Machine Required 

Cone filters are primarily used with a drip coffee brewer or pour over coffee maker.

You will need to know the size you're purchasing and check what's compatible, as some coffee machines make semi conical filter brews. 

Flat bottom coffee filters can be used with most coffee machines. They only one in one size but you can fold them into any filter basket and use them in any coffee maker you have. 

Cone Coffee Filters With Hand Grinder

Flat Bottom Coffee Filter Overview (Pros & Cons) 

A flat bottom coffee filter, also known as a filter basket, comes with a relatively large surface area. Due to the flat bottom coffee filter’s unique design, water comes into contact with the grounds for a shorter period of time, and fewer coffee solubles are extracted from the coffee.  

Individuals tend to use a flat bottom filter basket as they're not only cheaper and more versatile, but they also produce a milder cup of coffee than cone filters. If you use a flat bottom filter basket, it’s likely that your coffee will have sweet and floral notes.  

Flat Bottom Coffee Filter Brewing

Not all coffee machines take flat bottom coffee filters, but there are plenty of Breville and Lelit coffee machines that do use flat bottom coffee filters.

The good thing about these filters is that they also only come in one size, so you won’t have to worry about accidentally purchasing the wrong one.  

With a flat bottom coffee filter, you'll also typically be able to brew anywhere between eight to 12 cups of coffee at a time. In terms of the grind, a medium grind is most suitable for flat bottom coffee filters, but you can generally use any grind.  

What We Like 
  • Quicker extraction time  
  • Cheaper than cone filters  
  • Brews larger cups of coffee  
  • Produces a more balanced coffee brew  
Things We Don’t 
  • Not great if you prefer a stronger cup of coffee
  • Coffee grounds may not be saturated evenly

Cone Shaped Coffee Filter Overview (Pros & Cons) 

Cone shaped coffee filters have a tapered bottom along with a wide opening. Due to its unique shape, both the water and the coffee grounds end up in a central location which ensures that the water evenly passes through the coffee grounds.  

If you're someone that enjoys a stronger and more intense coffee brew, you’ll prefer cone shaped coffee filters. Due to the shape of the cone filter, it has a longer extraction time, allowing it to soak up the grounds and produce a bolder tasting brew.  

chemex pot with cone shape coffee filter

With a cone filter, there are four different sizes, so you’ll need to make sure that you know what size would work with your coffee machine. Here’s a rough guide of the different cone filter sizes:  

  • Size 1 is typically good for brewing one cup of coffee. 
  • Size 2 is ideal for brewing two to six cups of coffee in electric coffee makers.  
  • Size 4 can brew eight to ten cups of coffee in electric coffee makers.  
  • Size 6 can brew 10 cups of coffee or more using either pour-over or non-electric coffee makers.  

In terms of the grind, the best grind to use for a cone filter is a medium grind. Cone-shaped coffee filters also work well with pour-over coffees, and in those instances, a medium-fine grind would be best.  

What We Like 
  • Produces a stronger coffee  
  • Provides even saturation  
  • Won’t have to worry about your filter falling on the grounds  
  • Usually gives a more robust flavor  
Things We Don’t 
  • Can intensify bitterness of the brew 
  • Pricier than other filters  

Flat Bottom Vs Cone Coffee Filter FAQs  

Can you use regular coffee filters in a cone basket? 

Yes, you can use regular coffee filters in a cone basket. All you've got to do is mold it into a cone shape, and you'll be all good to go.  

Can you use a cone coffee filter in a basket coffee maker? 

No, you cannot use a cone filter in a basket coffee maker. Due to its unique shape, a cone filter just wouldn’t be able to fit properly in a basket coffee maker.  

What can substitute a coffee filter?  

Several items can substitute a coffee filter from paper towels to dishcloths, mesh sieves, and even reusable tea bags. If you'd like, you could even make your own coffee filter at home.  


Conclusion

Does the coffee filter shape matter? Yes, absolutely, and hopefully this guide has given you the full cone vs flat basket filter breakdown!

Cone filters will give you a more robust and flavorsome coffee - but they can make more mess depending on your filter basket shape. 

A flat basket filter is quicker, easier, and works in more coffee makers - making it the simpler option for those who aren't coffee aficionados. 

References:

1. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-019-44886-w

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