The coffee filters apparently weren't built to be used at high altitudes, but rather than fix the problem permanently, the FAA leaves it up to attendant’s common sense to not get burned.
… According to a safety alert published on the Federal Aviation Administration‘s website, the prepackaged coffee filters many airlines use are susceptible to pressure buildup and can explode when an unsuspecting attendant lifts the coffee pot to pour a cup.
When the filters are incorrectly placed in the coffee maker the water can become blocked from dripping into the coffee pot below and pressure builds up within the container holding the filter and coffee grounds. When an unsuspecting flight attendant removes the coffee pot, the clogged compartment above suddenly has much more room to expand and the filter can burst, with its hot contents and hot water possibly injuring passengers and crew.
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Photo Credit: Coffee pots onboard DragonAir. See-ming Lee / Flickr
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