Filter Fines with a Paper Towel

Coffee preparation techniques besides espresso like pourover.
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#1: Post by ThomooseCoffee »

Hello all. I'm a long time lurker here and have been very thankful for the wisdom, insight, and creativity found in posts all across home-barista.

I had a little professional experience in coffee during college before graduating and moving into power systems engineering. Coffee is still a hobby of mine, however, and I love listening to lectures on it, experimenting, and of course, drinking it. In this new year, I've decided to blog some of the things I learn along the way.


This is a little trick I use to filter fines out of a grind for the low, low cost of a single paper towel. It's really simple, but I have great results with it.

The method is:
  • 1. Pour grounds onto a paper towel
    2. Spread the grounds around leaving a small border
    3. Lift the paper towel by the long edges and tilt into a container
    4. Shake out the paper towel into a trash can
    5. Repeat until happy
Here's a before/after. Sorry it's just my phone camera.

Here's the process.

I wrote a post about this on my new blog, I'm linking it here if you want to take a look. It's the same information as here, and as of right now there isn't anything else there. Planning on doing a post about the coffee control chart and immersion brewing soon. ... per-towel/

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#2: Post by Subrutum »

Fascinating technique. I shall try it tomorrow (its 10:00 PM here).

Any noticeable impacts in calibration?
Magician of the Great Coffee Bean Pressure-Extraction Machine.

ThomooseCoffee (original poster)
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#3: Post by ThomooseCoffee (original poster) »

I brew mainly with an Aeropress, so draw-down and what not isn't really applicable. Here's what I noticed though:
  • - It's a lot easier to press at the end
    - The filter looks less muddy
    - The bitterness/smokiness is gone
    - I had to increase brew time to get flavor back
It would be interesting to see what the results are for a V60/Chemex/etc. I expect even better than for the Aeropress. Let me know how it works out for you!

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#4: Post by sprin001 »

Very cool idea. I don't do chemex much but this seems like a way to improve on uniformity of grind.

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#5: Post by curmudgeon »

Great. You just added another variable. Now I've got to go back and redo all my cost calculations for my coffee consumption.

A few questions:
Do you recommend Bounty, Viva, or some other brand? Will generic big box store brands suffice?
How do you feel about regular vs large vs jumbo rolls?
Is the paper towel reusable?
Have you found the orientation of the roll in storage to affect its ability to trap fines? (my paper towels are pulled from a horizontal under-cabinet dispenser)
Which side of the paper towel traps the fines best - the side facing the inside or outside of the roll?

Thanks for the assistance

/snark :D

ThomooseCoffee (original poster)
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#6: Post by ThomooseCoffee (original poster) »

Generic, not these uppity half-sizers either. Floral print adds a nice touch.

Jumbo roll is cheaper per paper towel, but more expensive up front. Depends on your budget and how much money you can make with other investments. You might decide to spend $1 on the smaller roll and invest the $1 you saved.

The paper towel is reusable. If you shake it pretty well almost all of the fines will come out. Worst case, it's still reusable to clean up something.

You're in luck, my tests show horizontal under-cabinet mounted paper towels to be clearly superior to vertical countertop rolls.

The side that traps best is the one that traps best, try both. :)

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#7: Post by pawelmwo »

Couldn't you just get a 100 micron screen and sift that way? I'm not sure of all the particle sizes but would get rid of the dust. Think you can get a sheet for like $5 food for thought.

ThomooseCoffee (original poster)
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#8: Post by ThomooseCoffee (original poster) »

Yeah, I could do that too. I've used my kitchen sieve before, and also used a fine metal AeroPress filter. The paper towel is faster I think, and does a good job getting clumps of fines as well.

I'll probably end up making a homemade Kruve at some point using mesh, just so I don't have to carry paper towels. But, at the least, this is a great way to test to see if fines are causing an issue in your brew, even if you don't want to filter every time.

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#9: Post by maigre »

I love this sort of creativity in making tools for things like this. Thanks for sharing. I gather you're not getting the flavors of the paper towel in your brew?

ThomooseCoffee (original poster)
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#10: Post by ThomooseCoffee (original poster) »

Glad it's appreciated! I'm not detecting any paper towel flavors. Though I will say, the coffee is weaker if I use the same recipe (no refractometer, just tasting/guessing). I've been compensating with longer brew times.