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Coffee bag filters are used for filtration when making cold-brew coffee. They come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and materials.
Some of the things to consider are:
- Re-usable or disposable? Re-usable needs to be cleaned but is more eco-friendly. If you choose disposable, is it biodegradable?
- Size and shape: What kind of container are you brewing in? Does it have a wide enough opening to allow you to get the coffee grounds back out?
- For reusable bags: bags with rounded corners are easier to clean as coffee won’t get stuck in the corners of the seams. Look for external seams for even easier cleanup.
- Cotton bags can give an off taste that is perceptible to some. Nylon bags don’t.
- Material: Paper filters may tear while cloth usually will not. Paper filters may filter out coffee oils, which you may not want. Cloth filters may allow some fine coffee silt through.
I researched and tried several filters for cold brew over the years. In this article, I’ll share my top picks. Let’s take a look at some of the options.
Best Coffee Bag Filters for Cold Brew
Best Large Sized Disposable
Hogurity Cold Brew Coffee Bags will help you make large batches cold brew coffee at home without the mess.
|Made of degradable non-woven material, making them eco-friendly and safe to use||You will need a larger container for these if you are brewing a lot of coffee at once.|
|The large size of the bags (6×10 inches) can hold 2-3 cups of coffee grounds, making them perfect for large capacity brewing||The bags are not reusable, so you will have to keep buying them if you want to continue using them.|
|The bags are disposable, so you don’t have to worry about cleaning up messy grounds after brewing.||The drawstring can be a bit difficult to tie.|
To use these, simply put the coffee grounds into the filter bags, tie it off, add cool water, and steep in the fridge overnight. When brewing is complete, remove the bag toss it in the compost bin.
The bags can also be used for brewing tea, making lemonade, brewing tea, and bouquets of herbs in stocks and soups.
If you’re looking for a smaller alternative to the Hogurity Cold Brew Bags, I recommend these 4×6 inch sized filters for brewing in smaller batches.
These bags can hold up to 1 cup of ground coffee and are perfect for making cold brew at home without the mess and cleanup.
Best Large Sized Reusable Cotton Bag
If you’re looking for reusable cold brew coffee bag, the Doppeltree Organic Cotton Cold Brew Coffee Bag is a great choice. At 12×12″ it is big enough for most home brewing containers.
|The extra fine weave of the cotton bag filters out all grounds and sludge, so you get a clean and smooth coffee.||The bag may leak if it’s not tied tightly enough.|
|The bag is made of 100% natural organic cotton, which is a more eco-friendly option than nylon bags||The bag may stain easily if you’re using dark roasted beans.|
|Cotton fabric is one of the quickest fabrics to decompose in a landfill (less than 6 months)|
|The drawstring makes it easy to open and close the bag even when wet, and the bag is easy to clean and reuse.|
The U-shaped curve of the bag helps to prevent coffee grounds from getting trapped in the corners of the bag. I also like that it comes in a 2-pack, so you can always have a clean bag ready to use.
The bag is very durable and doesn’t tear or fray easily, even after multiple uses. Cleaning the bag is also a breeze – just turn it inside out and rinse it under the faucet. Some mild soap can help to clean it more thoroughly, just be sure to rinse well.
The bag is compatible with a variety of cold brew systems, including mason jars, pitchers, and Toddy systems.
Best Disposable Filter Bag for Tall or Narrower Containers
If your mason jars are regular mouth, or you have a narrower brewing pitcher, or even brew in a big water bottle then this is the filter bag for you.
One problem with brewing in a disposable bag is once it is wet, they can tear if you manipulate them too much. I have ripped one or two over the years trying to get a bag of wet grounds out from a too narrow opening. Don’t let this happen to you!
These bags are tall and narrow, measuring 4″ x 12″.
|The 4″ x 12″ size makes it easy to use with any container, including narrow pitchers and larger mouthed water bottles.||Some users have reported that a small percentage of the bags have seams that are not sealed correctly, causing coffee to fall out.|
|Made from high-quality food-grade material, these filter bags are woven finely enough to prevent much sediment in your coffee||The bleach odor upon opening the package was strong for some users, although it dissipated after airing out.|
|The disposable design means there’s no mess to clean up after brewing.||While they work great for cold brew, these bags may not be be as multipurpose as other bags due to their unique size and shape.|
Note: Even those these are narrower than others, you will still want to ensure your container has a wide enough opening to get the coffee out.
🌟 My Favorite: Best tasting coffee & reusable
When I first compared coffee bag filters in 2017, my top choice was a nut milk bag. These are designed and marketed for making almond milk.
I prefer them because I can taste cotton fabric in my coffee when using cotton bags. If your palate is equally sensitive then a nylon mesh bag may be a better choice for you too.
|The U shaped design makes it easy to clean and helps prevent grounds from getting stuck in corners. Plus, the seam is on the outside so it is less likely to trap coffee grounds.||The drawstring may not be as durable as the rest of the bag.|
|Made from fine Italian nylon mesh, which is food-grade and BPA-free, it will do a great job keeping sediment out and you don’t have to worry about it soaking in your coffee and leaching nasty stuff.||Nylon is not as eco-friendly as other choices on this list, however it is also one of the more durable and long-lasting options on this list|
|The bag is washable, reusable, and will remain odor free and useful for the longest time.|
There are several nut milk bags out there to choose from and they all do the same thing.
This one has rounded corners made it easy to clean, and the double-reinforced stitched edge prevented it from ripping or tearing easily. The outward facing seam also made it much easier to clean and less messy.
I always love when a product can multi-task. You can also use this for nut milks, yogurt, cheesemaking, tea, beer brewing and more.
I also loved the fact that these come in a 3 pack of assorted sizes so you can use different bags for different purposes (i.e reserve one for coffee), or use different bags in different sized mason jars. Big batch, small batch? You choose.
When it comes to choosing the best coffee bag filters for cold brew, there are a few things to consider when making your decision:
The material of the filter is important to consider. Most are made of paper, nylon, or cotton.
Rather than describe it all, let’s summarize the difference in a table.
|Breaks down quickly||Breaks down in less than 6 months||Takes decades to decompose|
|N/A||Most likely to stain||Harder to stain|
|Recurring cost||Need occasional replacement||Need occasional replacement|
|May absorb coffee oils||May absorb coffee oils||Less likely to absorb oils|
|Least sediment||More fine sediment, depending how tightly woven the fabric is||Some fine sediment, depending how tightly woven the mesh is|
The size of the filter is also important to consider. Coffee bag filters come in different sizes, and it’s important to choose the right size for your cold brew pitcher. If the filter is too small, it may not hold enough coffee grounds, while a filter that is too large may not fit properly in the pitcher.
A wide bag will allow your coffee to settle and it may be difficult to remove from a smaller opening. For an analogy, think of when you take the bag of cereal out of the box and then try to stuff it back in. Same idea except in the case of cold brew, we can’t get the bag out instead of back in, which I’d argue is a bigger problem 🥲.
Bags range in size from small bags often used for herbal tea that are about 4″ x 6″ to 12″x12″ bags for large capacity brewing.
The micron size of the filter determines the fineness of the coffee grounds that are filtered out. A smaller micron size means finer grounds are filtered out, while a larger micron size means coarser coffee grounds are filtered out. Put another way, larger micron openings (bigger number) mean more stuff flows through. The lower the number, the smaller the openings in the material.
A good micron size for cold brew coffee is between 50-100 microns. Source
Paper filters can tend to trap some coffee oils, which can affect the flavor of your cold brew. Fine mesh filters can also trap oils, especially cotton cloth ones.
The trade off is, the large the openings, the more fine coffee sediment will pass through your filter.
The design of the filter is also important to consider. Some filters are designed to fit specific cold brew pitchers, while others are more universal.
Some filters have a drawstring closure, while others have a flap closure. It’s important to choose a filter that is easy to use and fits your containers.
As I’ve mentioned a few times already, for me rounded corners is a selling point because they are easier to clean.
Finally, the cost of the filter is an important consideration. Disposable paper filters are an affordable option, usually coming in packs of anywhere from 40-120 pieces.
Reusable nylon and cotton filters are more expensive upfront but can save money in the long run.
While reusable filters can last a long time, eventually they may stain, fray or get a hole in them. Nothing lasts forever.
I recommend replacing reusable filters when they start to look dingy. If you brew daily, that may be a 2x per year. Remember, we are brewing in water (which likes to grow things) without heat for an extended period so from a food safety standpoint, having impeccably clean equipment is a must.
If manufacturer’s instruction allow, it may not hurt to boil your bag in some water for a few minutes every 1-2 weeks to sanitize it.
You should also wash it before first use.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the ideal micron size for filtering cold brew?
The ideal micron size for filtering cold brew coffee is between 50 to 100 microns. This size range is perfect for removing any sediment or grounds from your cold brew while still allowing the some oils to pass through.
Can I use regular coffee filters for cold brew?
You can. Paper filters will likely remove some of the oils from your coffee, but you will also get very little sediment.
If you are brewing in larger batches (e.g. 32 oz. or more) you may want to choose a #4 coffee filter. A #2 filter only holds about a cup or so of grounds.
Also, when using a regular filter you will likely need to pour a little, let it strain, pour a little more, let it strain, etc. In other words, it may take a few minutes.
Finally, you will need something to support the filter. A pour over cone works well for cone shaped filters. If you have the round oversized cupcake style paper filters (like for commercial coffee makers), you could put this in a mesh wire kitchen strainer.
What are the best cold brew filter bags for a Mason jar?
The biggest thing to watch out for when brewing with a bag in a mason jar is that you are able to get the bag back out. When using coffee bags, try to choose a wide mouthed mason jar. I recommend the Modern by Design 4×12 inch bags for mason jars.
Can’t I just strain through cheesecloth?
Yes. Cheesecloth has a pretty loose weave though. To get decent filtration, fold it into a double or triple layer of fabric and then lay it in a kitchen strainer. You may also find that coffee grounds get stuck in the weave from time to time.
Everything we’ve talked about so far assumes that you will be brewing in the bag, however here is one parting thought:
You can always soak your grounds directly in water in your brewing container and then use one of the re-usable bags on this list to strain your coffee. You can drape your bag over a cone filter, or a mesh kitchen strainer. No worries about stuck bags, no worries about off tastes but you get the benefit of an eco-friendly reusable bag.