What Can You Use In Place Of A Coffee Filter The Top DIY Coffee Filters

What Can You Use In Place Of A Coffee Filter? The Top DIY Coffee Filters

Last updated on November 28th, 2023 at 15:16

If you want to know what can you use in place of a coffee filter then this article is what you are looking for as I list the top DIY coffee filters from around your home that you can use as an emergency coffee filter.

In this article I’m naming my top 6 replacement filters that will work effectively as a substitute filter. The last one is a little ewww, but it works!

Keep reading for my top 6 coffee filter hacks when you are flat out of filters!

What Can You Use In Place Of A Coffee Filter? My Top DIY Coffee Filter Choices

Waking up, tired, exhausted and in desperate need of a caffeine boost and finding that you are out of filters might sound like a nightmare, and it is! This is why knowing what you can use in place of a coffee filter will save you from turning up at the office feeling like something out of a horror movie.

Here are my Top DIY coffee filter choices and coffee filter substitutes that you can use in an emergency and still enjoy great coffee.

What Can You Use In Place Of A Coffee Filter
What Can You Use In Place Of A Coffee Filter

Read: How to make coffee without coffee filters

#1 Metallic Reusable Tea Bags – A DIY Coffee Filter Choice I Love!

This is something that you may have around your home if you are a tea lover and a coffee lover at the same time. Sure, the cloth reusable tea bags are great and can be used in an emergency, but if you have those metallic reusable tea bags you will get an amazing cup of coffee, one of better quality.

The cloth reusable tea bags will filter out some coffee oils while a metal one will filter out none of them and result in a better tasting and full-bodied coffee.

It is a coffee filter method that is very effective and will leave no particles or coffee grounds in your brew.

Simply add two or three tablespoons of coffee grounds in your reusable tea bag and let it steep for 3 min to mins in a mug of hot water. Even though they are a little more expensive than traditional coffee filters, they are worth it as they make great tea and serve as a back-up filter for your coffee when you need one.

Metallic Reusable Tea Bag
A Metallic Reusable Tea Bag

#2: A Fine-Mesh Sieve Is A Great Reusable Metal Coffee Filter!

I love using a fine-mesh sieve as a replacement for coffee filters, especially when I am making cold brew coffee. The effect is very much the same as using a proper purposely designed metal coffee filter!

Using them is so easy. For your cold brew, simply pour your coffee through it and into a fresh container to strain out your ground coffee.

It is as easy as that.

If you have a small or medium-sized fine mesh sieve or mesh strainer, you can put a couple of tablespoons of medium ground coffee beans in a glass cup, add hot water, stir gently and leave to steep and brew for 3 to 4 minutes.

Then put your mesh sieve over the top of an empty coffee mug and pour your freshly brewed coffee through your mesh sieve and viola you have your coffee made, and filtered.

#3 A Great Unthought Of Emergency Coffee Filter – Your French Press!

This is something that you may not have thought of, French press coffee pots have a built-in coffee filter, and you can use it as an emergency coffee filter.

If you are making drip coffee, and you have run out of paper filters – make your coffee as you normally would. Let it drip into your carafe and then pour it into your French press coffee pot. Make sure your plunger is in the up position before you add your drip coffee.

Then press down on the plunger and filter any grounds that are there.

Of course,

you can make a cup of French press coffee; just don’t forget that you have a great built-in filter that you can use as a back-up.

French Press Coffee Maker
French Press Coffee Maker

Read: Substitute for coffee filter

#4 Thin Towel Or Cloth Napkin As An Alternative Coffee Filter

When you need to make coffee and your coffee filter supply has run out, you can always make one out of what material you have around you.

For pour over and in particular, the Chemex pour over method, a dish towel, and other similar materials can make great fabric filters and substitutes for coffee filters and when you need to make coffee without filter papers don’t use your favorite napkin, use one that you simply don’t care so much about.

Use your dish towel or cloth napkin in a single layer. Add 2 to 3 tablespoons of medium ground coffee and pour over your water. Your cloth will filter it perfectly well.

To use it in your drip coffee machine or another brewing method you may need to cut it to size for the best results.

The best technique is to make it large and fold it into a pocket and place your coffee grounds inside and place it into your drip coffee maker and brew your coffee as you normally would.

You get some unwanted flavors from the cloth.

#5 A Paper Towel – A Simple Coffee Filter Alternative

If you are looking for a simple coffee filter alternative, then look no further than your roll of paper towels. These are good and simple to use and, literally, we have all used a paper for coffee filter use while in our student days!

To use it as a fold over or for your drip coffee maker, fold it into a pocket and put it in your filter holder or coffee basket and start to make your coffee.

The two big drawbacks are the paper towels are not designed to be coffee filters and are chemically treated and often bleached. Unfortunately these chemicals can leech into your brew.

The other drawback is the hot water may not flow as well as regular filter paper and may lead to flooding of your coffee basket. Watch your drip machine and use the on-off-on-off method to keep the coffee area from flooding.

Paper Towel Coffee FIlter
Paper Towel Coffee Filter

Read: Coffee filter substitute 

#6 Socks And Stockings

Using a sock or a stocking might sound a bit icky for most people…I’m one of them! Which I love proper sock coffee made using a proper cotton coffee sock, the use and thought of using an actual sock is just cringe worthy.

Despite this being the last thing I’d use as an emergency coffee filter I’m not going to deny its use or effectiveness.

Make sure it is a clean sock and rise it well, literally hand wash it without using any detergent. Your objective here is to remove the scent of detergent and fabric softener and to prevent the taste and scents of those from getting into your coffee cup.

Use an ankle sock and roll them over your cup, and add two tablespoons of coffee grounds to it and add hot water. Let your ground steep for 3 min to 4 minutes.

Then remove your sock, and in the process you will be removing your coffee grounds.

This roll over technique you can use with your filter basket on your drip coffee machine and your filter holder for your pour over coffee.

Frequently Asked Questions About What Can You Use In Place Of A Coffee Filter?

Yes, but only when you use them on a one-off basis as an emergency coffee filter. There are chemical and dioxins that with hot water may be extracted from your paper towels and may be detrimental to your health in the long term.

Paper towels are approved by the authorities despite the chemicals due to them not being expected to be in contact with the food that you consume. It is also not taken into consideration alternate uses like that of an emergency coffee filter.

How Do You Make A Coffee Filter Without A Filter?

There are many coffee filter substitutes that you can use as a back-up coffee filter. Personally, I have three tiers of DIY coffee filters based on which makes the best tasting cup of coffee. Tier one is the best; the next best is tier 2. Tier 3 is as an ultimate resort.

  • Tier 1: Metallic reusable tea bag, fine-mesh sieve, French press coffee maker.
  • Tier 2: Cloth napkin, handkerchief, cheesecloth, dish towel.
  • Tier 3: Paper napkin, paper towel, socks, stockings.

I have a strong preference for metallic filters, either as a coffee filter alternative or by using a legitimate, well-designed coffee filter made of metal. Metal filters do not filter out the coffee oils and, as a result, you get a full flavored and full-bodied cup of coffee.

No great harm will come of you if you don’t use a coffee filter. You may end up with a slightly gritty cup of coffee due to coffee particles making their way into your coffee. It is not going to be damaging to your coffee maker or your health if you use it just once or twice or in the case of an emergency.

Be sure to clean your equipment and coffee machine well after use so that coffee grounds and particles don’t damage your equipment or cause it to clog up.

There are a few known ways of brewing coffee that are pretty tasty that do not require the use of a filter or have a filter built in to the required brewing equipment. I suggest making them at home and trying them.

  • Cold brew coffee.
  • French press coffee.
  • Moka pot coffee.
  • Percolator coffee.
  • Turkish coffee.
  • Cowboy coffee.
  • Mud coffee.

Some of the methods above require a filter, which you can easily use a cheesecloth, dish towel or paper napkin and use these materials as a coffee filter replacement. The how is very easy. Simply follow the brewing methods for each coffee.

Yes, it is very common for paper towels to have chemicals in them. Bleaching agents and other chemical agents like chlorine, dioxins and formaldehyde are used in the manufacturing process of paper towels.

What Can I Use Besides Coffee Filters?

You have many options regarding everyday household items that you can use if you have run out of traditional coffee filters. Here is a short list of everyday materials that you can use:

  • Paper towels.
  • Paper napkin.
  • Kitchen paper.
  • Handkerchief.
  • Old dishtowel.
  • Old T-shirt.
  • Reusable tea bag.
  • Cheesecloth.
  • Fine metal mesh sieve.

There are more options that you have; these are the most popular, convenient and make the best tasting coffee when you have no alternative.

How Do You Filter Coffee Without A Filter?

Filtering coffee without a filter is very easy. You can take the easy and obvious solution of using a coffee brewing method that has a built-in filter, like a moka pot coffee or French press coffee being two fine examples.

Or you can use a makeshift emergency filter out of an old handkerchief or a double layer of cheesecloth.

Add your emergency alternative filter to your drip coffee filter basket or filter holder. Put your coffee grounds in your alternative coffee filter and pour your hot water carefully over your coffee grounds, adhering to the coffee to water ratio for drip coffee makers -1:16.

The material that you use can and will act as a filter and prevent your grounds from getting into your coffee.

Another technique is to make a pouch with a cloth fabric like a cheesecloth and close it with a rubber band effectively emulating a tea bag – except it is filled with coffee. Steep this coffee “tea bag” in a mug of hot water and let your coffee extract. Remove your coffee bag when it is ready.

Can I Skip Coffee Filter?

Yes, you can skip using a coffee filter and make coffee without using a filter at all. There are many brewing methods that don’t require a filter. Turkish coffee and cowboy coffee are two such methods.

Just keep in mind that the longer your coffee sits, the stronger it gets due to the coffee particles still being in your cup and still extracting their flavor and caffeine.

Final Thoughts – What Can You Use In Place Of A Coffee Filter

Now that you know what you can use in place of a coffee filter with the 6 options that I named above.

Use the metal ones first as they make the best cup of coffee and are ever so easy to use. I expect that like myself the idea of using a cotton sock is quite off-putting.

Did you use any of the emergency coffee filters listed above?

Which worked the best for you, or do you have your own genius homemade coffee filters that you use when you have found that you have run out?

Join our online coffee community on Facebook/Meta and let us know what your brilliant temporary coffee filters are?

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 Derek@LatteLoveBrew.com, mentioning your name and location

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