What Can You Use Instead of a Coffee Filter?

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No coffee lover likes to skip their daily dose of caffeine, especially in the morning, but imagine not being able to make coffee because you forgot to buy new filters. Instant coffee or unfiltered coffee like Cowboy Coffee or Turkish Coffee isn’t for everyone, so don’t panic! There are a lot of alternatives to traditional filters and we’re going to provide you with the best substitutes; many of which are laying around the house. We bet you’ve never thought of using them.

Whether you’re a coffee drinker who prefers simple black coffee or fancy concoctions like matcha blends, these makeshift coffee filter methods really work, so check them out!

What to Use in Place of Coffee Filter?

Paper Towel

Using paper towel as a coffee filter is first up on our list. This might not be the best option, but it is worth trying in a pinch.

So how do you use a paper towel as a filter? It’s pretty simple; just follow the same method you would with a regular coffee filter. Use the towel to line a pour-over coffee maker and then place it over your cup, spoon coffee grounds into the paper coffee filter, and then slowly pour your hot water over the grounds. Once all the water has drained, remove the towel, toss it in the compost, and you are done!

While this is a feasible option, keep in mind that there are several chemicals in paper towels. They are also thin, so there can be instances when the towel gets torn. Overall, the result is satisfactory; you will get your dose of caffeine, but it might have a hint of a papery and chemical taste.


Ok, so not everyone has cheesecloth laying around, but this is another viable option! Take a small piece of cheesecloth and fold it once or twice. The number of folds depends on how thin your cloth is. If it is too thin and permeable, then you need to fold it until you are certain the coffee grains won’t pass through it.

After folding it, place it over the cup and secure it in its place by using rubber bands. Pour coffee grounds and water over it and wait for a few minutes. The filtered coffee will drip slowly into the cup. Many have noticed that the cheesecloth or any other similar cloth works flawlessly.

Fine Mesh Strainer or Sieve

After paper towels, one of the most common utensils that you might find in a kitchen is a strainer or a fine mesh sieve. Great news: they act as the perfect coffee filter! For this method, you need to try the immersion method. First, pour coffee grounds and boiling water into a cup and let the concoction rest for four to five minutes.

Place the sieve over your coffee mug and pour the liquid mix into the cup. While this technique is perfect and does not have any chemical aftertaste, there is a chance that small fine coffee particles will pass through the sieve and into your coffee.

If you are okay with a coffee ground or two in your mouth, then this method will be perfect for you!

Sock or Stocking

Yes, you read that correctly. You can use socks as a coffee filter as well! It’s the oldest trick in the book and has been used over decades to strain many different types of solutions to get a clear liquid. For this, use a clean, washed thick cotton sock or fine stockings.

Place the sock inside the pot, pour in the coffee grounds followed by hot water, and leave it to soak for a few minutes. After that, squeeze the socks to get all the liquid out and enjoy the coffee.

It seems weird to use something that is on your feet to make your drink, but desperate times call for desperate measures, right? Keep a designated coffee sock on hand in case of emergencies.

Reusable Tea Bags

Reusable loose tea bags are also a great option for use in emergencies. Plus, it is an easy method. Just add a few tablespoons of your favorite ground coffee to the tea bag, seal it, and place it in a cup of hot water. Just let it sit for a few minutes and then remove it.

The brewed coffee tastes amazing. It satisfies your cravings and comes pretty close to the one made using a coffee filter. The only disadvantage here is if you are not a tea-drinker, you won’t likely have reusable tea bags in your kitchen.

French Press

A French press is one of the best ways to get brewed coffee without the coffee filter. While most people might not have this appliance in their kitchen, it is probably ideal to invest in one to avoid ever missing your daily dose of caffeine because you’ve run out of filters.

A French press has a glass chamber, a plunger, and a mesh filter. You add the ground coffee and hot water to the container and let the mixture rest for about 5 minutes of brewing time.

Then, press the plunger down so that the coffee grains and water separate. Pour your fresh and super delicious coffee into your favorite coffee mug and enjoy!

Final Thoughts

In times of desperation, the mind has the power to think of the most creative ways to solve a problem. Coffee-loving experts brainstormed and found six different ways to brew coffee without a coffee filter. If you find yourself faced with the same problem, wondering what to use in place of a coffee filter, the above six coffee filter alternative methods are very effective ways of filtering coffee. Give them a try and let us know which method suits you the best!

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