10 Best Coffee Filter Substitute to Use When You Lack Them

10 Best Coffee Filter Substitute to Use When You Lack Them


It might be a special event or just a regular day, coffee is considered an integral part of our routine throughout the entire day. Nothing is matchable like the intricate art of brewing coffee or having a trusted coffee maker.

There might be times when you would run out of coffee filters, so why do not you pick the best coffee filter substitute from our list.

Apart from running out of coffee filters, coffee filter substitute is regarded as one of the easiest items which people usually forget to buy during vacation.

People are least likely to forget purchasing coffee or even the creamer for that matter, but the filter might slip off from their mind.

There are numerous coffee filter substitute available in the market. There is a wide range of options to choose from. So make sure to make the correct choice.

Most people often wonder if they can use a paper towel as a coffee filter since it’s not only cheap but also quite reliable.

Fortunately, the market is full of a wide range of coffee filters that would make your job easy. Some of them are enumerated below:-

1. A Paper Towel

If you are actively searching whether can you use a paper towel as a coffee filter then this article would resolve all your queries?

Coffee filter substitute

You are just required to start lining a pour-over or dripping basket along with using a paper towel. Take two tablespoons of coffee and place it inside. Start pouring a cup of mild boiling water over the ground.

After the water has been drained thoroughly, it is recommended to start removing the pour-over from your mug. As a result, it would discard both ground and paper towels.

Pros: Paper towels are regarded as one of the most common coffee filter substitute since it is available at home. The method remains the same except to sub the towel for filtration.

“Can you use a paper towel as a coffee filter?” is one of your questions then the answer would be yes. Since a paper towel’s fine weave constitutes well coffee grounds.

Cons: The procedure of paper towels includes little traces of bleach or glue or any other chemicals used in the whole process.

The breakage might happen because they are thin. Due to such factors, an automatic drip basket, flimsiness or a pour-over is crucial. Often the result is acidic and chemical testing.

Final Verdict: If you are one of the people to search ‘can you use a paper towel as a coffee filter?’ then the above information is made for you. Using it as a coffee filter substitute might not be the best option, but it’s considerable.

2. Clean Dish Towel

The other name of the clean dish towel is cloth napkin. Select a clean cloth napkin or dishtowel to begin with the process.

coffee filter substitute

Keep in mind what if that particular piece of cloth is stained by coffee and make a choice accordingly.

Either set your cloth into an automatic drip basket or pour them over. Some people also take the help of a rubber band for securing the mouth.

Place two tablespoons of ground coffee and pour it with mild boiled water over the grounds. Start removing the cloth with proper care after the passing of the water and rinse it out at the end.

Pros: Clean dish towel is recognized as one of the popular coffee filter substitute. Since a clean towel is present in every household which is also sustainable.

Using it without a dripping basket or pour-over is likely to cause no complications if you secure it with the rubber band 

Cons: At the time when a rubber band is used, you would see that the bowl of the filter becomes very shallow and it starts dangling in the coffee.

It might also stain the cloth. This whole thing deteriorates the taste of the coffee and makes it taste worse.

Final verdict: It is recommended to keep this as your last option. Since there are very few cases of success while you try this.

3. Reusable Tea Bags

This coffee filter alternative is often tried by tea lovers. Since if you regularly drink tea, then you would have several reusable tea bags available in the kitchen.

Coffee filter substitute

For DIY at your home, you are required to add 1-2 tablespoons of your coffee in a reusable tea bag followed by sealing and adding it to your mug. 

It should be done below the boiling water. After the completion of these steps, you have to let it steep for some 3-5 minutes. After 5 minutes after removing the tea bag, your coffee is ready.

Pros: This is one of the convenient methods which is free of any mess and the result is always a few coffee grounds that end up in the cup.

Moreover, it also eliminates the risk of the inclusion of any chemicals in your coffee since reusable tea bags are a food-safe material.

Cons: This method usually doesn’t have any downside except if you aren’t a tea drinker you might have no availability of reusable tea bags.

Final Verdict: This substitute is highly recommended because it offers simplicity and ease. Further, it satisfies coffee lovers just in a pinch. The consumers are all set to enjoy their freshly brewed coffee.

4. Fine Mesh Sieve

To follow this method, take a glass measuring cup or identical vessel and pour 2-3 tablespoons of coffee in it.

Coffee filter substitute

Mild warm a cup of water and stir it for once. It is suggested to wait for 5 minutes or even more or less since it depends on how strong the taste you like in your coffee.

Start pouring the coffee with the help of a fine-mesh sieve over your mug. To ensure few coffee grounds, some users prefer putting up a piece of cheesecloth over their sieve for catching them.

Pros: This coffee filter substitute is also very scalable and it doesn’t invite a lot of toils too. Most importantly in this method users can decide how strong they want their coffee and accordingly can set the adjustment of ground steep.

The taste of the coffee is also enhanced. This is undoubtedly one of the most preferable ways to brew coffee.

Cons: At times the sieve might miss catching the finest coffee grounds. You might not have any other fine mesh sieve to restart with your process.

Final verdict: This method produces a cup of coffee that tastes quite well and strong. It’s not the sole reason to forgo coffee filters completely but it’s not bad either. Users can opt for it without any worry.

Also Read: Difference Between Latte and Mocha

5. Cheesecloth

Cheesecloth is regarded as a versatile fabric primarily used for straining liquids while producing cheese from milk, apart from that it can serve the purpose of various other filtrations.

Coffee filter substitute

Coffee can be easily brewed up if cheesecloth is available in your home. Start with the measurement of your coffee grounds. The size would range from medium-coarse to medium-sized granules.

Put your cheesecloth over a glass dispenser. Start pouring boiling water slowly over the ground. Keep in mind to add more and more water as your pour starts seeping via the cheesecloth.

Pros: The production of such milk bags is done with quite fine filters which are considered indispensable for the creation of a creamy texture.

This is one of the reasons why it tops the preference of people over other alternatives since it offers a very satisfying outcome. To avoid any residue or dirt ensure to clean your equipment properly.

Cons: If you aren’t familiar with the preparation of plant-based milk, it might be quite challenging for you to use a but milk bag.

Although this could be overcome by trying out this method a few times before starting to make your milk in larger quantities. After practising several times, this would be none less than a cakewalk for you.

Final verdict: These clothes are produced with the help of transparent as well as thin carded cotton fabric and the process of weaving is done very loosely. Due to its structure, it could be effectively used as a fine wire mesh.

6. The Coffee Sock

 The name of this coffee filter substitute might sound very unappealing but the name is so since its appearance is very similar to that of the sock which goes on our feet.

Not to worry, no feet are involved in this coffee-making method. The coffee sock means a cloth tea bag to make your coffee. Begin with placing your grounds in the sock followed by placing it in the mug.

Pour your boiled water over your sock. Remove the sock after waiting for some minutes. Your freshly prepared coffee is all ready to be sipped by you.

The best part about these coffee socks are they can be used several times, you just have to wash them properly to repeat. It also saves your money.

Pros: If you are struggling with the ‘can you use a paper towel as a coffee filter?’ you should try out this method since it would save a lot of your money and it minimizes the need of buying paper towels.

It is believed that a single coffee sock is capable of replacing 500 paper filters. Moreover, it leads to the creation of less waste that’s why it’s known to be environment friendly.

Cons: The only con is that you would require to air dry them somewhere since it’s not possible to stuff them in your drawer after you are done with the process.

It’s quite messier in comparison to paper filters since picking up the whole thing to throw them out is not possible. 

7. Instant Coffee 

If you want to be aware of how exactly a coffee is brewed without the need of a filter, then you take reference from the past, as one of the common staples of the past times is still popularly used, which is instant coffee.

Coffee filter substitute

Many people are fond of the taste of instant coffee. You might already have a tub of instant coffees kept in the cupboard which you can use whenever you feel like drinking coffee.

Take 2 grams of instant coffee into your mug, then fill it with a hot cup of boiling water. Keep stirring it with the help of a spoon until it is properly dissolved. You are ready to enjoy your hot cup of coffee.

Pros: It is one of the easiest methods to make coffee. Moreover, there are fewer chances of wastage in this method. You can easily decide the volume of coffee which you want in your cup.

Cons: It’s a common con that many people don’t like its taste. They feel it changes the taste of coffee a little bit. Moreover, there is very little chance that it would be available in pantries.

More Related to Coffee:

1. French Roast vs Italian Roast

2. Best Home Coffee Roasters

3. The Perfect Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte Recipe

8. Permanent Coffee filters

If you want to get rid of purchasing placements again and again, then permanent coffee filters are a suitable option for you.

Coffee filter substitute

Both the pour-over brewing method, as well as the AeroPress method, could be practised in permanent metal filters.

Pros: Amongst its many advantages some of them is that it is available at a reasonable cost. It doesn’t harm the environment in any way, that’s why it’s environmentally friendly.

Cons: The only disadvantage is that it loses hold of fine grounds, so getting a cleaner cup of coffee is quite tedious in comparison to a paper filter.

Final Verdict: People who have high cholesterol levels are not recommended to try permanent filters.

Most of the filters are made from metal mesh which is not capable of catching oil and the components of coffee can raise the cholesterol levels in your body.

9. Cowboy Coffee

This is one of the straightforward methods to brew coffee. Before removing the heat, start boiling a cup of water. Add coarse grounds to it after it has cooled down.

Coffee filter substitute

Leave it to steep for 5 to 8 minutes. Wait till the coffee grounds properly settle to the bottom of your pot, start pouring it into the mug to avoid disturbance.

Cowboy coffee would offer you not only flavoursome but also a strong brew through which you can easily make sufficient cups.

Pros: This coffee filter substitute eliminates the need for any kind of fancy accessories. You can start making your coffee anywhere you want as per your choice.

Cons: You have to pay proper attention since your coffee might get burnt. The cowboy pot might be quite leaky. The handle starts warping if it is heated for a longer time.

Final Verdict: A cowboy coffee maker is an ideal choice when there is no shortage of electricity in the camping ground. It gives one a great reason to get together at the campfire and to enjoy the company of your loved ones while sipping your steamy cup of coffee.

10. French Press Coffee

This is excessively popular. If you are using a French press coffee, it would provide you with a robust coffee without the requirement of some additional filters.

Coffee filter substitute

The French press constitutes a plunger, a glass chamber as well as a mesh filter. Take a container and add coarsely ground coffee to it.

Pour your water over the grounds. After you have stirred it, leave it for some minutes. To separate water and grounds, start pressing down the plunger. You are set to enjoy your cup of coffee.

Pros: This equipment is very inexpensive. The process of brewing becomes easy. The equipment is very user friendly as well as versatile. Users can easily learn to use this equipment.

Cons: You need extra equipment to boil your water, a comparatively less safe method in comparison to other methods.

Lack of attention or experience might cause over-extraction of the grounds. This increases the probable chances of over-extracting your coffee.

 Final Verdict: The French press offers you higher control over a variety of variables and the users would be left with a richer coffee taste.

Although it might not keep your coffee hot for a longer period, it is very easy to prepare French press for the next batch when it is required.

How do you make a homemade coffee filter?

If you do not have any of the substitutes available at home, so our last option is creating a coffee filter from paper.

Yeah, paper and some origami skills that’s all you need. In the video given below you can follow the origami steps to make your homemade coffee filter.

How to make Cowboy coffee?

The Bottom Line

Coffee constitutes a very rich natural taste that brightens our day and gives us the energy to do our day to day activities.

Coffee filters are one of the vital things which are necessary at the time of preparing coffee.

However, purchasing filters might slip away from your mind which might affect the quality of your brewed coffee.

To eliminate such worries, a coffee filter substitute is a one-stop solution. With the help of such substitutes coffee could be easily brewed like a usual coffee filter.

The most common riddle is, ”Can you use paper towels as a coffee filter substitute?” And the answer to it is yes. 

In the absence of a coffee filter, grabbing a paper towel and popping it in your coffee machine would solve your issue.

Furthermore, this article would brief you with the top 10 best coffee filter substitutes with their respective pros and cons. The ways you can filter your coffee with the help of it.


A coffee enthusiast from Asia keeps trying new hot beverages and sharing all his experiences with the internet. Aayush is a writer by profession who only thinks about coffee. He loves to brew and create unique recipes and share them with the public. Aayush had tried different types of coffee from different sides of the world. His favorite coffee is the Hawaiin Kona Coffee.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *