Substitute For Coffee Filter - Ingenious Hacks You Need!

Substitute For Coffee Filter – Ingenious Hacks You Need!

Last updated on January 22nd, 2024 at 13:41

When you need a substitute for coffee filter the ingenious coffee filter hacks in this article will come to your rescue!

I confess, I have found myself in this position many times and have tried all the methods mentioned. Some are fantastic, some are, well, to put it politely, a last resort solution but are still effective.

One thing you absolutely must do with cloth filters is to rinse the material well before you use them.


Keep reading to find out why!

Substitute For Coffee Filter

One of the downsides and drawbacks of loving drip coffee and being a coffee lover that loves pour over coffee is the unfortunate situation which happens from time to time of being out of filters.

Focus on this article, and you will have plenty of ideas for what to use as substitutes for coffee filter. All the methods that I cover are, of course, no substitute for having good management of your coffee filters and ensuring that you simply don’t run out!

Filters are cheap and buying 3 boxes at a time is what I do. When I get to the last box, not the last filter, I order 3 more which keeps me in a plentiful supply.

Paper is not the only type of coffee filter. Alternative coffee filter materials are organic cotton cloth, organic hemp cloth and metal coffee filter.

Buy one of those, at the very least as a back-up emergency coffee filter as these are reusable. It is worth noting that different filter materials result in a different tasting coffee due to the varying amounts of coffee oils that they filter.

Let’s get into detail about coffee filter substitutes!

Substitute For Coffee Filter
Chemex Coffee Uses A Thicker Filter

Read: What can you use in place of a coffee filter?

No Coffee Filter For Coffee Maker

When you have no coffee filter for your coffee maker, you can give consideration to using any one of the following options.

#1 Clean Socks

Talk about starting with an eye-opener!

Thick cotton socks, particularly sports socks, have been used for many years as a back-up emergency coffee filter by coffee lovers all over the world. The idea of using a sock might seem icky, but it is a very good solution.

Be sure that the sock is clean and has been washed. Rinse it well with an abundance of warm water to remove the scents and flavors of detergent and fabric softener.

Using it is so simple. Add your coffee grounds; use medium or coarsely-ground coffee. Heat your water to 92C – 96C (195F to 205F) and pour it into your sock over your coffee grounds. Leave your coffee sock to steep for 3-4 minutes. When ready, remove your coffee sock and enjoy.

#2 Cheesecloth

A cheesecloth is one of the better DIY coffee filter options that you will find. The result is as good as a regular paper filter with many coffee drinkers being unable to notice the difference. All that is needed for you to do is to cut it to the correct size and fold it in two in order to use it and an effective reusable filter until you get your paper filters delivered.

As far as cloth options go, make a cheesecloth your first choice over other types of cloth.

When you use it as an emergency coffee filter replacement it is important that you use two layers as the holes in a cheesecloth, the pore size, are much larger than a paper filter and thus your hot water will run through quicker resulting in a reduced contact time with your hot water. This will lead to an under brewed and under extracted cup of coffee.

When you are using it as a coffee filter replacement for pour over coffee, use the same technique as you would with a paper filter. With a drip coffee maker, as it is with all coffee machines and alternative coffee filters, be careful that your machine does not flood, nor flow too quickly into your coffee carafe below.

How To Make Coffee Without Filter Or Paper Towel
A Cheesecloth Will Get Great Results

Read: Emergency substitute for coffee filter

#3 Dish Towel Or Cloth Napkin

Like a cheesecloth, these are great substitutes for coffee filters that you can use for pour over, chemex and your drip coffee machine. The reason I rate these a little lower than a cheesecloth is due to the likelihood of your dishtowel or cloth napkin being washed with chemical detergents and fabric softeners which may seep into your coffee drink.

This is why you absolutely must, without fail, rinse your dish towel or cloth napkin with warm water before you use it.

Even though this technique makes great coffee without filter papers, your coffee will stain the item that you are using, and thus your favorite dish towel is best avoided.

Simply drape your cloth napkin or dish towel over your Chemex or pour over device. Add your ground coffee and pour your hot water over them.

#4 Fine Mesh Sieve

A fine mesh sieve is my preferred way to filter the coffee grounds from my cold brew coffee, even when I have paper filters and cotton cloth filters as a viable solution.

It is a great reusable metal coffee filter and gets all the coffee oils into your coffee drink. As far as replacements for coffee filters go, you won’t get better for your cold brew coffee, unless you have a proper metal coffee filter.

For pour over it is so easy to use. Simply put your medium coarse coffee grounds in your fine mesh sieve and slowly and evenly pour your water over.

Alternatively you can add your coffee grounds to your coffee cup, add your water and stir gently and let your coffee extract for 3 to 4 minutes then filter through your mesh sieve.

No Coffee Filter For Coffee Maker 
Use A Fine Mesh Filter

Read: Coffee filter substitute 

#5 A Reusable Tea Bag

Many a coffee lover and coffee aficionado like myself have used both cloth and metal reusable tea bags and filled them with coffee grounds and letting them steep in hot water to make a great cup of coffee.

These are handy things to have around for both tea and coffee lovers.

#6 Fine Sifter

The same fine sifter that you use for baking and sifting powdered sugar can be used as a very effective alternative to your beloved coffee filter. The holes are larger than both a paper towel, napkin and cheese cloth.

You can still use it to filter your coffee by using the full immersion technique. Add your coffee grounds to your coffee cup. Pour your hot water over your coffee grounds and stir gently and let them extract for 3-4 minutes. Then pour your coffee through your fine sifter and into another cup.

Using this for brewing coffee using the pour over technique can be a little problematic as the water is likely to run too quickly past your coffee grounds.

#7 A Handkerchief

A handkerchief can be used as an effective back-up do it yourself coffee filter and is just as easy to use as any of the clothe based methods that I have already spoken about.

To use it you have many options including folding your handkerchief into a pocket and adding your ground coffee and pouring your hot water through for a pour over coffee.

An effective method is to use the steeping method and steep your coffee in hot water and when ready pour your coffee through your handkerchief and into a second cup. Effectively separating your coffee grounds and your.

You can also cut and sew your handkerchief to be a reusable cloth tea bag and fill it with coffee. Use a rubber band or simply use a knot to close the temporary tea bag and dunk it in your coffee and let it steep for a few minutes.

A Handkerchief
A Handkerchief Is A great DIY Coffee Filter

#8 Paper Towel Coffee Filter

A paper towel and toilet paper are two commonly used alternative to coffee filter paper. If there is no actual coffee filter paper available, using a paper towel, despite it being effective, should be one of your last options.

Both paper towels and toilet paper are treated with chemicals which will seep into your coffee. Unfortunately you simply cannot wash out these chemicals prior to using them.

This is why I advise against using them. Unless you have untreated organic paper

Line your filter holder with paper towels, add your coffee and pour slowly and with care and attention. If your coffee grounds spill over or your water has too quick a flow rate, your coffee will be spoiled.

How To Make Coffee Without Filter Or Paper Towel

If your clean out of coffee filters, no cloth material is available, not even an old T-shirt and none of the above materials at all are at hand, and you absolutely must have a cup of coffee. Your best and quite possibly only solution is to go filterless and make some good old-fashioned cowboy coffee.

Cow boy coffee is hot coffee brewed with whole beans. Add your coffee beans to a saucepan and heat your water to 205F (96C) or just below boiling point and take your coffee off the heat for 2 min. Then return your coffee to the heat and bring it just below the boiling point and let it rest for 2 min.

Pour your coffee slowly into a cup and ensure your coffee beans don’t get into your brew.

Add sugar and milk as desired and enjoy.

Emergency Coffee Filter – My Favorite DIY Coffee Filter

My favorite emergency coffee filter for drip coffee machine is to use the coffee filter basket bare naked as it is without a filter of any type. A good filter basket will act as a quality filter, and you will get a goofy cup of coffee.

You can also use your metal mesh filter basket for pour over coffee as long as you are careful with your pour.

It is an effective and great DIY coffee filter that works.

Above, taking action to make sure you are both never out of filters and have a couple of back up solutions like reusable tea bags and cotton or metal coffee filters is a great idea.

Prevention is far better than messing around trying to find a temporary solution.

Frequently Asked Questions About Substitute For Coffee Filter

What Can I Use If I Don’t Have A Coffee Filter?

You have a lot of options when it comes to finding a temporary replacement for traditional coffee filters and enjoying a flavorful brew.

Here are some good alternatives that you can consider:

  • An old dish towel or cloth napkin.
  • Paper towel or napkin.
  • Use a reusable tea bag.
  • A fine mesh sieve.

Can I Drink Filter Coffee Without Filter?

Yes, you can make and enjoy a cup of coffee that is unfiltered as there are many effective coffee filter substitutes that you can consider using. However, if you are completely out of filters and have no alternatives you can make your filter coffee without a filter as the brew basket for your drip coffee maker can act as a filter.

You may end up with coffee grounds in your cup of coffee.

There are many coffee brewing methods that are filterless, a fine example of this is Turkish Coffee.

Can I Use Tissue Paper To Filter Coffee?

Yes, a napkin, paper towel and tissue paper can be used as a common solution and to filter coffee effectively. It’s not an excellent coffee filter substitute, but it is an effective temporary solution.

Can I Use Cupcake Liners As Coffee Filters?

No, even though a cupcake liner looks incredibly similar to a paper coffee filter, particularly flat-bottomed paper filters. They cannot be used as a coffee filter alternative as they are not porous. It will not let anything pass through them.

Effectively speaking, they will just flood your coffee machine.

Why Is Filter Paper Necessary For Brewing Coffee?

To brew a great tasting cup of coffee using the drip coffee method or pour over method, a filter is necessary to ensure that your coffee grinds do not pass through and get into your cup below.

Their use affects the flavor slightly as they prevent the coffee oils from passing through to some degree depending on the type of filter be it a paper filter, cotton cloth filter or metal filter.

It is advisable to have at least one permanent filter or semi-permanent filter if you drink a lot of filter coffee; as this will ensure that you have a back-up for that moment when you are out of coffee filters.

Can I Use Coffee Maker Without Paper Filter?

Yes, you can use your coffee maker without a paper filter as you use a reusable cloth filter or metal mesh filter or any number of makeshift coffee filter techniques to brew your coffee.

Can I Use Cloth To Filter Coffee?

Yes, a cotton cloth like a dish towel or napkin can be used or folded to become a perfectly good homemade coffee filter. As long as it prevents your coffee grounds from getting into your cup of coffee, that is good.

Does Filter Matter In Coffee?

Yes, if the particular brewing method dictates that you must use a coffee filter, which most methods do, even espresso (which uses a portafilter) needs a filter. The type of filter that you use will affect the flavor of your coffee.

More expensive espresso machines have portafilters that use a paper filter.

Final Thoughts – Substitute For Coffee Filter

If you have read this far, thank you kindly, I appreciate it. You should know what constitutes a substitute for coffee filter and which are the best methods to use and why.

Above all, I hope that you take from this article the one key piece of advice, and that is to manage your coffee filters well and have some permanent or semi-permanent coffee filters.

Join our cool coffee community and tell your fellow coffee enthusiasts about the great beans that you are trying out and share your latte art designs and coffee recipes! Find us on Facebook/Meta.

Derek Marshall, a certified barista by the Specialty Coffee Association possesses over two decades of experience in specialty coffee shops. He holds professional certifications for coffee brewing and barista skills. Derek is also an author with authoritative books covering various coffee topics including specialty coffee, sustainability and coffee, coffee brewing, coffee recipes, coffee cocktails and books focusing on Brazilian coffee, Vietnamese coffee, Indonesian coffee and Malaysian coffee. As a barista for over two decades, Derek Marshall has worked in specialty coffee shops across the United Kingdom, Spain, Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, Indonesia, and Vietnam. His expertise extends to the distinct coffee cultures, specialty beverages, and brewing techniques of each nation. Functioning as a coffee consultant, Derek charges US$50 per hour. To learn more about Derek Marshall and Latte Love Brew, visit his About Me Page. For coffee inquiries, contact him at +34-639-410-375 or, mentioning your name and location

Blogarama - Blog Directory