What’s The Difference Between #2 And #4 Coffee Filters?

There is nothing quite as relaxing as drinking a strong, freshly brewed cup of coffee before starting your day. Therefore, it is essential to choose the correct coffee since the size of the coffee filters can affect the taste and texture of your freshly brewed coffee. The most common coffee filters are #2 and #4, but what is the difference between the two?

The difference between the #2 size coffee filter is that it is intended to be used with 2 to 6-cup electric coffeemakers or 1 to 2 non-electric coffeemakers. A #4 coffee filter is intended for use with non-electric coffeemakers producing 8 to 10 cups or electric coffeemakers making 8 to 12 cups.

These two filters appear to be identical; however, they differ greatly in size and can influence the taste of the coffee. Let us further discuss the differences between #2 and #4 coffee filters and if you can use one instead of another.

What’s The Difference Between #2 And #4 Coffee Filters?

Coffee filters give you more control over the extent of extraction. This is due to the fact that the filter’s design has an impact on how water passes through the coffee grounds. The most common coffee filters are #2 and #4, but #4 coffee filters are the best type.

These two filters appear to be identical; however, they differ significantly in size. With two to six-cup electric coffeemakers or one or two non-electric coffeemakers, a #2 size filter is recommended. 

When using an eight to ten-cup non–electric coffeemaker, or eight to twelve-cup electric coffee maker, a #4 size filter is required. Cone-shaped coffeemakers are suitable with both #2 and #4 coffee filters.

#4 filters are larger than #2, allowing more room for water to flow through and become saturated with coffee oils while filtering out the grounds.

This results in a stronger brew and a longer “steep” time, which allows the flavor of the coffee to penetrate deeper into the water resulting in a smoother taste. While #2 filters are better at being ultra-convenient, they only allow so much room for the water to flow.

#2 and #4 coffee filters are cone-shaped. Due to its narrow bottom, this kind of coffee filter is perfect for classic drip coffee machines.

You get a good, even extraction when you pour water over a cone-shaped filter because it completely goes through the ground coffee. In other words, your cup will have all the exquisite aromas and tastes that the beans will provide.

Can I Use A #4 Coffee Filter Instead Of A #2?

It turns out that you can use a #4 coffee filter in place of a #2, but there are a few things to keep in mind. First, #4 coffee filters are less dense than #2 filters, so you will need to use more coffee grounds to make up for the difference.

Second, #4 filters do not fit most coffee makers, so you will have to do something else with your leftover grounds (like composting them). And last but not least, #4 filters are more expensive than #2 coffee filters because they are made specifically for brewing tea and espresso drinks.

Can I Use A #2 Coffee Filter Instead Of A #4?

It is relatively easy to go to a #4 filter from a #2 filter. Simply use scissors to cut the edges so that it fits into the basket. Just pour the water slowly and carefully to avoid spilling it or creating a mess. The opposite way around is a little more complicated, but not impossible.

Which Coffee Filter Is Bigger, #2 Or #4?

The dimensions of a #2 coffee filter are 4 inches tall by 6.25 inches broad. The #2 filter is precisely the same size from the bottom to the height that is 4 inches tall if you stack the filters upon one another. A #4 coffee filter is larger, measuring 5 inches tall by 7.5 inches wide. A #4 coffee filter is bigger than #2.

The #4 filter’s height and width move upward and outward after that point. If you have a #4 coffee filter but require a #2, you could perfectly transform a #4 filter into a #2 filter using scissors.

How To Choose The Correct Coffee Filter

If you are using a cone-shaped filter, then you know it comes in various sizes besides #2 and #4.

  • #1 Coffee Filters: #1 coffee filters are ideal for single-serve coffee machines or pour over setups.
  • #2 Coffee Filters: #2 coffee filters are suitable for one to two-cup pour overs or two to six-cup coffeemakers.
  • #4 Coffee Filters: #4 coffee filters are designed for pour over or eight to ten-cup coffeemakers.
  • #6 Coffee Filters: #6 coffee filters are designed for big coffeemakers producing ten or more cups.

To choose the correct coffee filter, you must know that it is important to determine what shape and size filter works appropriately with your coffeemaker and the types of coffee filters, and which fits best with your brewer. The material of your filter has a significant impact on the flavor of your coffee, just like the type of coffee, brewer, and water you use.

1. Metal Coffee Filters

Metal coffee filters are made of stainless steel and are much better for the environment than paper coffee filters since you can reuse them multiple times.

Because the wire mesh has considerably wider holes than tightly woven paper, some of the finer coffee grounds and coffee oil can leak into your cup.

Compared to removing them with a paper filter, those tiny grains offer your coffee a stronger flavor. Additionally, the oils give the coffee a wonderful scent that enhances the flavor.

2. Cloth Coffee Filters

An excellent approach to enhance the flavor of your coffee while being environmentally responsible is to use a cloth coffee filter. These simple-to-use cloth filters include holes that are both big enough to promote airflow and small enough to filter out clumps of beans, giving your cup of coffee a smoother, creamier mouthfeel.

Although less frequently utilized than paper or metal, cloth can offer a suitable medium between the two. Since cloth filters are woven as firmly and tightly as paper filters, they are excellent at holding smaller coffee beans.

But they barely ever absorb coffee oil. The final result is coffee that has no beans yet nevertheless leaves the feel of a coffee that is full in the mouth.

3. Paper Coffee Filters

Paper is the most common type of material used for filters. Paper filters are the most efficient material for capturing the majority of the coffee oils and sediment because they are closely woven and absorbent. Both drip coffee makers and pour over brewers use paper filters.

Compared to other materials, this results in a fresher and cleaner taste in the coffee. Coffee’s natural acidity becomes more apparent due to the absence of fine grounds, giving it a sharp, refreshing texture.

But paper filters are considered even more ineffective because these can only be used once in the brewing process. However, using a paper filter can also be healthier because the paper is the easiest way to keep coffee oil from getting into your cup, which decreases the amount of cholesterol in your coffee.

Although I suggest purchasing a metal filter if you want a filter that will last for a number of years, paper filters can be reused, and thicker filters fare much better. Easily remove the used residue, wash, rinse, and allow the filter to air dry.

Is There A Difference Between White And Brown Coffee Filters?

For the taste and quality of your coffee, neither brown nor white coffee filters are better suited. Both kinds are recyclable. However, brown filters are still more environmentally friendly since they are not bleached.

Although these distinctions are sometimes noticeable, the shape of both the filter and the quality of the materials used will determine how your coffee tastes.

Unbleached filters are brown, which indicates that they have undergone less processing than bleached filters (which are white). Only bleach will turn brown paper white; otherwise, it is always brown. While unbleached filters (brown) do not really produce a better cup of coffee, they are healthier for the environment.


I hope this article was helpful! If you just bought your first coffee maker, then be sure to check the instructions given in the booklet or on the box. Many times, the manufacturers provide information regarding the size and shape required for your specific coffee maker. Now you know that #2 and #4 coffee filters differ in size and the total cups of coffee they can produce. #2 is smaller than #4 and can only make two to six cups, while the #4 filter can produce eight to twelve cups. Remember to consider the correct type of filter to use, i.e., cloth filter, paper filter, or metal filter.


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