What To Use For Coffee Filter - Emergency Coffee Filter Ideas

What To Use For Coffee Filter – Emergency Coffee Filter Ideas

Last updated on October 24th, 2023 at 19:36

If you are stuck for what to use for coffee filter this article lists emergency coffee filter with every day item that you have around your home and kitchen.

If you drink a lot of filter coffee, take a belt and braces approach and manage your paper filter better by always having two boxes. When you open that last one, order another box.

Also, having a permanent or semi-permanent filter is handy.

Keep reading to find out what you can use for a coffee filter in an emergency.

What To Use For Coffee Filter

If you have run out of coffee filters and need to know what you can use in an emergency, don’t worry, you have many options! You should find at least three or more of these options around your home.

Here is what you can use as an emergency filter:

  • 1. A fine mesh sieve.
  • 2. A clean cloth napkin or dish towel.
  • 3. Reusable tea bags.
  • 4. Paper towels.
  • 5. Cheesecloth.
  • 6. Socks or Stockings.

Also, there is the option of brewing cowboy coffee, or if you are patient, cold brew coffee. Instant coffee is also an option.

Despite the snobbery around coffee, there is no reason to turn your nose up at instant coffee, especially in an emergency! Improvements in technology have led to great improvements in instant coffee. Some top brands like Starbucks have some great and tasty instant coffee options.

What To Use For Coffee Filter
There Are Many Things That You Can Use When You Have No Filter

Read: How many coffee filters should I use?

Coffee Filter Substitute Paper Towel

When you are struggling for what to use for a coffee filter the first thought for many and the most popular coffee filter substitute is a paper towel.

How To Use A Paper Towel As A Coffee Filter Substitute

Simply line a pour-over filter holder or the drip basket of your drip coffee maker with a paper towel. Alternatively, you can fold your paper towel into a pocket.

Put your coffee grounds inside and pour your hot water over the coffee grounds. When the water has drained through you will have a cup of coffee.

The Pros

Everyone has paper towels at home, and you have no rhyme or reason to change the type of coffee or brewing method. Paper towels are great at filtering coffee grounds.

The Cons

Paper towels are made with all kinds of chemicals, including glue and bleach. Paper towels are also very things and flimsy and easy to break. Due to the drawbacks, a filter basket or pour-over filter holder is a must.

Would I recommend using a paper towel as a filter as a coffee filter substitute? Yes, but only in an emergency is there is no other option. It’s not the best option, but not the worst either.

Coffee Filter Substitute For Coffee Maker – Dish Towel, Cloth Napkin Or Cheesecloth

A dish towel, cloth napkin and a cheesecloth are all a much better coffee filter substitute for coffee maker than a paper towel.

How To Use Them As A Coffee Filter Substitute For Your Coffee Maker

Stating the obvious, look for a clean cloth napkin, dish towel or cheesecloth. Avoid using your favorite dish towel or napkin as it will have a coffee stain when you are finished using it. For a cheesecloth, cut it to the size that you need.

One method you can use is to line your filter basket or pour over filter holder and use a rubber band or paper clips to hold it in place. You can also fold them into a pocket. Put your coffee grounds inside them and pour your hot water over them.

When the water has passed through your grounds and into the cup or the coffee pot below, you have a great tasting cup of coffee.

A second method, a nice single cup alternative brewing technique. Line your coffee cup with a cheesecloth, cloth napkin or dish towel. Put your coffee grounds inside and pour your water over them. Stir well as your coffee brews. When your coffee is ready, carefully lift your emergency coffee filter. Your grounds will be lifted out with your filter and leave you with a freshly brewed cup of coffee.

Coffee Filter Substitute For Coffee Maker
A Dish Cloth Can Be Used As An Emergency Filter

Read: Coffee filter pore size

The Pros

You have a clean cloth, dish towel or napkin somewhere that can be used as a temporary filter and alternative coffee filter. Adaptable for both drip coffee baskets; just be sure to secure it in place, and for pour over coffee.

The Cons

If you have washed your cloths and dish towels with detergent, which inevitably you have, you will get some of the flavors into your coffee. You can mitigate this to a degree by rinsing the item that you use with warm water. They can be awkward to use and depending on which type of cloth that you use may cause a little problem of water overflowing from the filter basket.

Would I recommend this as a coffee filter replacement? Yes, but be careful when using it in your drip coffee machine.

Coffee Filter Replacement Hack – A Fine Mesh Sieve

I am guilty of using a fine mesh sieve to filter cold brew coffee when I can’t locate my metal coffee filter.

How To Use A Fine Mesh Sieve As A Coffee Filter Replacement

There are two ways in which you can use a mesh sieve as a coffee filter replacement. The first and most obvious way is to place your sieve over your cup. Place your ground coffee in your sieve and our water over the grounds.

The brewed coffee will drip into your cup and viola, you have a cup of coffee ready to drink. Alternatively, brew directly into your cup using the full immersion brewing technique. Add ground coffee to your cup, pour water over your grounds and stir gently. Wait 3 to 4 minutes for your coffee to brew.

Pour your coffee over another coffee mug and through a fine mesh sieve to remove the coffee grounds. You can use a piece of cheesecloth to line your sieve to catch the coffee grounds.

The Pros

The quality of coffee brewed is good, and you have full control over the strength of your brew. It’s a very viable solution that you can scale up to brewing a full pot of coffee.

The Cons

The biggest drawback is that your sieve doesn’t filter out the finest coffee grounds. Too large a sieve can be awkward to use for a single cup of coffee.

Do I recommend this coffee filter replacement hack? Yes, absolutely! It produces a good quality strong cup of coffee. If you have never used a metal filter before, using a sieve might just edge you towards using one as the result is a full-bodied coffee with all the oils in your brew.

DIY Coffee Filter – Reusable Tea Bags

If you need a quick and easy DIY coffee filter, reusable tea bags are great, especially the ones made of aluminum. As a great host, and despite nobody in my house being a tea drinking I have a set of these and a selection of tea on hand.

The bonus is these make a fantastic back up when I am out of coffee filters.

How To Use Reusable Tea Bags As A DIY Coffee Filter

Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of grounds coffee to your reusable tea bags. Add your tea bag to a cup of hot water. Let your reusable tea bag steep for 3 to 4 minutes. Viola, you have a freshly brewed cup of coffee.

Due to all the coffee oils getting into your cup, you can expect a full flavored and tasty cup of coffee.

The Pros

The final coffee brewed is tasty, and very easy to make. It’s a mess-free method also. The best part is there are no nasty chemicals getting into your cup of coffee.

The Cons

The biggest downside is you may not have reusable tea bags. Be a great host for your coffee and tea meet ups and your dinner parties and offer your tea drinking guests the option of making loose tea and buy some reusable tea bags – they will serve as a great back up for that moment when you don’t have any coffee filters.

Do I recommend using reusable tea bags as a DIY coffee filter? Yes, this is a very easy way of making great coffee that is fuss-free and very uncomplicated. You also end up with no mess and a great cup of coffee.

DIY Coffee Filter
Reusable Tea Bag

Read: Coffee filter sizes

Emergency Coffee Filter – Socks And Stockings

Socks and stocking make for a great emergency coffee filter and make sure they are clean. Due to the chemical and scents used in washing powder and fabric softener, give them a real good rinse, or better still a pre-wash in hot water.

How To Use Socks And Stockings As An Emergency Coffee Filter

Add two tablespoons medium or coarsely-ground coffee to your coffee sock or stocking. Hold your sock or stocking over a pot and pour in water. The water will pass through your coffee grounds and drip into the pot below.

You can also steep the sock with coffee into a pot of hot water and let it steep for a few minutes.

The Pros

It’s a known brewing method, or rather an adaption of one that uses a proper open-ended flannel that is popular in Thailand, Vietnam, Cuba, Brazil, Colombia, Malaysia and other exotic locations. The quality of the coffee brewed is good and strong.

The Cons

The thought of using a sock or stocking to brew coffee is a little off putting and the chemicals used to wash them need to be washed out. No the most appeasing method, even if the coffee is fine.

Do I recommend using a sock or stocking as an emergency coffee filter? Yes, but only as an emergency and only as a last resort.

Frequently Asked Questions About What To Use For Coffee Filter

Can A Paper Towel Be Used As A Coffee Filter?

Yes, in an emergency a paper towel can act as a simple coffee filter alternative. Simply fold your paper towel for coffee filter to form a pocket where you add the coffee grounds.

You can strain your coffee without using a strainer by using a piece of double-layered cheesecloth or kitchen towel and by placing it on top of your cup. Pour your coffee and water mix over the cheesecloth or paper towel and into your cup.

Yes, many cloth filters are made from cotton. Naturally organic cotton is better as it is more natural and adds no flavor to your coffee. Cloth filters trap some coffee oils but not as much as paper filters and results in a different taste to your coffee.

Yes, aluminum foil filters are a thing! Long term they are better for the environment and cheaper as they can be used many times. The flavor is deeper and bolder as they allow more coffee oils into your brew than a paper filter.

Yes, a coffee sock is a brewing method in many parts of the world, including Vietnam, Cuba, Colombia, Thailand and Brazil to name a few places. The sock used is specifically produced flannel and not a sports sock. In the case of an emergency, a clean sock or stocking can be used.

Simply put your ground coffee in your sock, our hot water and let it steep for a few minutes.

If you love filter coffee and make it regularly, it is good practice to have not only a back-up box of filters at all times but to have at least one permanent or semi-permanent filters like a coffee sock, an aluminum foil filter, a metal filter to use in an emergency.

In the case of having no back-up you can use the following items:

  • Cheesecloth.
  • Paper towels.
  • Reusable tea bags.
  • Cloth napkin.
  • Sock or stocking
  • Fine mesh sieve.

 Final Thoughts – What To Use For Coffee Filter

Know you know what to use for coffee filter in an emergency and how to use them as well as the pros and cons of the popular emergency filters that you have around your home and kitchen.

Which method did you try?

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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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