When you go to pick up your coffee filters at the store, you may have noticed the #2 or #4 on the package. This probably made you stop and think, “Which one do I need?”
The main difference between a #2 and #4 coffee filter is the size. #2 coffee filters are designed to make 2 to 6 cups with a drip machine or 1 to 2 cups of pour-over. Meanwhile, #4 coffee filters are designed for 8 to 12-cup drip machines and large pour-overs.
This article will compare the #2 and #4 coffee filters to ensure you have the right filter for your coffee-loving needs.
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#2 Coffee Filter
Let’s start off by talking about the smaller of the two filters. The #2 coffee filter can hold the grounds for about 1 to 2 cups brewed with a pour-over device and 2 to 6 cups in a drip coffee maker.
The official size of a #2 coffee filter is 6.25 inches wide and 4 inches tall. This should be more than sufficient to hold the grounds for a cup or two of coffee.
The conical shape of the #2 coffee filter is also well suited for drip coffee and pour-over. It assures that all the grounds are effectively soaked, causing a more flavorful brew of coffee.
As we previously mentioned, the main difference between the #2 and #4 coffee filters is the size. So as you would expect, the #4 is larger than the #2.
The #4 coffee filter measures in at about 7.5 inches wide and 5 inches tall. This filter is best suited for drip coffee machines and pour-over devices designed to brew about 8 to 12 cups of coffee.
It’s estimated that 95% of drip coffee machines use #4 coffee filters. So if you have a standard drip coffee machine, this is most likely the filter size you need.
Just like the #2, the #4 coffee filters are conical in shape. This shape assures you get the most flavor out of your grounds with your larger drip coffee machine or pour-over unit.
Are They the Same Material?
Before we answer this question, you have to understand that coffee filters can be made of paper, cloth, and metal. And while this may sound like a small detail to pay attention to, research shows that it influences the flavor of your coffee.
You will find #2 and #4 coffee filters available in those three materials. #2 and #4 paper coffee filters are made from the same material. The same goes for if they are made of cloth or metal.
The number does not indicate a variation in material or thickness. It’s purely an indicator of the size of the coffee filter.
Can You Get Away with Using a #4 Coffee Filter in a #2 Coffee Filter Device or Vice-Versa?
If you’ve already bought #4 or #2 coffee filters, you might wonder if you can get away with using them for the wrong-sized device. The answer to this one is kind of.
If you have a #4 coffee filter but you want to use a smaller drip coffee machine or pour over, all you have to do is trim the edges to make the filter fit the device.
If you don’t trim the edges, the water pouring down could cause the filter's edges to fall in on itself.
And if you have #2 coffee filters but want to use them for a larger machine, it would depend on how much coffee you’re brewing.
If the grounds come close to the filter's edges, the coffee won't get brewed effectively. As long as you’re not brewing at full capacity, you can use the smaller #2 filter in a larger drip machine or pour over.
On a side note, you can also make coffee without a filter.
Are There Other Filter Sizes?
#2 and #4 coffee filters are just some sizes available. This is part of what makes picking out a coffee filter at the store confusing.
There are also #1, #3, and #6 coffee filter sizes. And that’s not all. You also have 1 and 2-pint-sized filters.
But don’t get bogged down by all the numbers. The #2 and #4 coffee filters will meet most of your coffee needs.
If you want to be certain you have the best-sized filter for your machine, check the packaging. It will typically indicate the appropriate filter size.
The main difference between a #2 and a #4 coffee filter is the size of the filter itself.
#2 coffee filters are best for small drip coffee machines that make 2 to 6 cups and pour-over units that make 1 to 2 cups. #4 coffee filters are ideal for larger drip coffee machines and pour-over units that make 8 to 12 cups.
Both #2 and #4 coffee filters come in various materials. However, both filters have the same thickness as long as they are made of the same material.
You can often get away with using a #4 filter for a smaller drip coffee machine or pour-over. On the other hand, a #2 filter may or may not cut it in a larger drip machine or pour-over unit. It would depend on how many grounds you use.
#2 and #4 coffee filters are only some sizes, but don't get bogged down by the details. Odds are a #2 or #4 coffee filter will meet your needs to craft that delicious cup of joe.