Best Coffee Filter Substitutes You Can Find at Home

So, you’ve just woken up, and you head to the kitchen to make your morning coffee. Then, you find out that you’re out of coffee filters.

Even though you might have a grocery store right around the corner, it’s hard to do any activities before having your daily caffeine dose. We get that!

Luckily, there are many things you can use as a substitute for filters. In this article, we’ll tell you all about the best coffee filter substitutes you can find at home.

Keep reading to enjoy a delicious cup of filtered coffee in no time!

Best Coffee Filter Substitutes

Let me tell you about the best coffee filter substitutes you can find at home.

1. Napkins 

Yes. You read it right! You can use napkins or paper towels as filters for your coffee.

That’s because they can do the same thing as any filter. Not only that but using napkins is similar to using a traditional filter.

Don’t fret! When using napkins, you won’t end up with coffee residue at the bottom of your cup.

Unfortunately, the problem with napkins is that you might tear them apart when you pour your hot water. All in all, napkins aren’t designed to withstand water pouring through it. Therefore, you might end up tearing a few napkins before you make a good cup of coffee,

It’s also worth mentioning that high-quality napkins might work better than low-quality ones. Additionally, most napkins are bleached, which can alter the taste of your coffee. So, brown and unbleached paper towels are better.

How to Use

Here’s how to turn a napkin into a coffee filter:

  1. Lay the napkin flat on a surface, and fold it vertically in half.
  2. Then, fold the napkin again in another half, so that it becomes a square.
  3. After that, line your drip basket with the napkin and put your coffee in it.
  4. Next, pour the water slowly and carefully. Pouring the water quickly might tear the napkin.

2. Dish Towel or Cloth Napkin 

A clean, preferably new, dish towel or cloth napkin can work as a filter. Keep in mind that coffee will stain the cloth.

Additionally, one of the best things about cloth napkins and dish towels is that you can use them without a drip basket. You can easily secure the cloth to the mug using a rubber band or even your hand.

The problem with this technique is that it can get messy. Let me tell you how.

When the cloth soaks up coffee and becomes saturated, it might drip some over the side of the mug. Moreover, if you use a scented laundry detergent, it can alter the taste of your coffee.

How to Use

Here’s how to use a dish towel or a cloth napkin as a filter:

  1. Grab a clean dish towel or cloth napkin and place it into the drip basket.
  2. Then, put your coffee inside, and gradually pour the hot water over it.
  3. After the water passes through, carefully remove the cloth and discard the grounds.
  4. Finally, rinse the cloth thoroughly to get rid of the stain.

3. Mesh Sieve

Do you want to make a strong, full-bodied brew? Well, this substitute is for you!

A fine mesh sieve is one of the easiest substitutes you can use when you run out of filters. After all, we use small sieves as tea strainers.

Many consider a mesh sieve to be the best substitute for coffee filters. That’s because it’s easy to use and it doesn’t alter the taste of the coffee.

However, the problem with mesh sieves is that they may not catch fine coffee grounds. That means you might end up with a muddy coffee layer at the bottom of your mug.

Chemex filter coffee brewing method

How to Use

Let’s check out how to make coffee using a mesh sieve.

  1. First, prepare your coffee in a pot or measuring cup by adding the ground and the hot, but not boiling, water.
  2. Second, stir the coffee and let it steep for around five minutes to get a good extraction.
  3. After that, place your mesh sieve over your mug and pour the brewed coffee slowly.
  4. Finally, let your coffee set for two minutes, so that the fine ground solubles settle at the bottom of the mug.

4. Reusable Tea Bags

If you brew tea at home, you might have some reusable tea bags lying around somewhere. Let me tell you that reusable tea bags are one of the best, if not the best, substitutes for coffee filters.

What’s good about this technique is that it’s mess-free and easy. More importantly, you’ll be using a food-safe material that’s designed to do a similar job.

Therefore, you won’t end up with unwanted chemicals in your coffee.

How to Use

Let me tell you how to use a reusable tea bag to brew your coffee.

  1. Grab a usable tea bag and open it.
  2. Then, fill the tea bag with two tablespoons of ground coffee.
  3. After that, grab your mug and fill it with hot water.
  4. Next, submerge the bag in the hot water and wait for around four to five minutes.
  5. Give the coffee a taste test. If it’s strong enough for your taste, remove the tea bag. If not, leave the tea bag for two more minutes.

5. Cheesecloth or Butter Muslin

Do you make cheese or butter at home? Well, you can use a fine cheesecloth or a butter muslin as a coffee filter. They can do the job perfectly.

However, not every house has a cheesecloth or a butter muslin. In addition, this will stain the cloth brown.

How to Use

Here’s how to use cheesecloth as a coffee filter:

  1. Place the cheesecloth over your mug.
  2. Then, secure it in place using a rubber band.
  3. After that, add your coffee grounds to the center of the cloth.
  4. Finally, slowly pour the hot water.

How to Make Coffee With No Filter

No filter? No problem! You can still enjoy your morning coffee without any filters.

Here are some methods for making coffee without a filter:

1. Faux French Press

French press is a brewing device that doesn’t use filters. Luckily, you can mimic the style of the device with a mug, a deep bowl, and a spoon.

A man using French press coffee

Keep in mind that this method is only suitable for medium-ground coffee. That said, let me tell you how to do so.

  1. First, add 16 grams of medium-ground coffee into a deep bowl.
  2. Second, boil the water and let it set for two minutes.
  3. Then, pour a small amount of hot water over the ground coffee and stir the mixture.
  4. After that, let them sit for around two to three minutes.
  5. Next, use the spoon to carefully press the coffee grounds to the bottom of the bowl.
  6. Keep the coffee in place with the spoon and slowly pour the extract into your cup. You can also use a strainer for this step.

2. Turkish Coffee

If you have finely ground coffee, you can use it to make Turkish coffee! All you’ll need is a small pot and your stovetop.

You can proceed with the following steps to make a delicious cup of Turkish coffee:

  1. For each cup, add around eight grams of finely ground coffee into a small pot.
  2. If you want to add sugar, it’s best to add it at this step. Typically, you can add one tsp of sugar per cup.
  3. Then, add 60 ml of water per cup.
  4. After that, stir the mixture and place it on your stovetop over the lowest heat.
  5. After around one to two minutes, give the coffee a small stir.
  6. When the foam starts forming on the surface, you need to keep an eye on the coffee. As soon as it starts to boil, take it off the heat.
  7. Next, slowly pour the coffee into a small cup.
  8. Finally, let the coffee sit for two minutes so that all the particles settle at the bottom of the cup. It’s important to not stir the coffee after it settles.

3. Cold Brew

If you’re not in a hurry, you can make a delicious cup of cold brew without having to use any filters! It’s super easy, and it’s perfect for hot weather.

To make the perfect cold brew, you’ll need a medium to coarse coffee ground. In addition, it’s best to measure out the coffee and the water before you start. The ratio we recommend is ¼ cup coffee to 1 cup water.

Here’s how to make the perfect cold brew:

  1. Add the coffee ground and water in a pitcher or a jug and add the water.
  2. Then, stir the mixture thoroughly and cover it with a lid.
  3. Leave the mixture at room temperature for 8 to 12 hours or overnight.
  4. After that, slowly pour the coffee into a mug. You can use a cloth or a strainer as a filter.
  5. To serve: dilute the coffee with up to 50% water or milk. You can also add ice and syrup to your coffee.

The Best Coffee Filter Substitutes

So, what are the best coffee filter substitutes?

Well, you can use a mesh sieve as a filter. It doesn’t alter the taste of the coffee and it’s easy to use. In addition, reusable tea bags are perfect substitutes for filters too.

You can also use a napkin or a dish towel as a filter, but they aren’t the best options. That’s because they might contain some chemicals that can make your coffee taste different. Additionally, coffee will stain the cloth.

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