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5 Easy Coffee Filter Substitutes: A Detailed Guide


Brandon Pierce
October 10, 2021

So you coffee drinkers have clicked on this article because either you have run out of your coffee filters or you are looking for some other coffee filter substitutes.

Paper filters are often known to leave a specific paper smell and other unwanted flavors in your coffee.

According to some observations, paper coffee filters also filter out coffee oils which are essential to adding flavor and tones to your coffee.

That gives you a coffee that is light in flavor. So  I'd say finding substitutes for coffee filters is always a good idea.

In this article, we’ll walk you through some of the best coffee filter substitutes with which you can ditch the old paper filter.

5 Coffee Filter Substitute Options for Every Situation

Here are 5 of the best coffee filter substitute options you can try without any extra equipment in handy while leaving the coffee grounds behind.

Let’s start filtering the coffee grounds!

Coffee Sock

Brewing in a coffee sock filter isn't as difficult as you may think; in fact, it's quite simple, and they work almost equally to conventional paper filters.

It’s one of the most commonly used coffee filter substitutes.

Coffee socks are, as their names indicate, just a piece of tightly knitted fabric with a metal wire attached to it.

Based on its length, a coffee sock can either be used as a pour-over coffee filter or plunged like a French press.

coffee sock


  • The conventional method is to place the coffee grinds in the sock.
  •  Then set the sock in a mug or pot, depending on the size of the sock.
  • Now pour in the hot water.
  •  Let it sit for a few minutes. 
  • Then take off the sock with the handle made of wire.

Here you go, Now you can enjoy your perfect cup of coffee.

Paper towels

On a chilly winter morning, when you realize you're out of the coffee filter, you might feel like you've hit rock bottom.

paper towel

You don't want to leave the house without something to satisfy your grumbling tummy. This is where paper towels can come in handy.

They are often used as emergency coffee filter substitute  by many coffee lovers.

Did You Know? A paper towel is the closest thing to a filter that you can find. Just make sure you don't use paper towels too often, as it can cause some health issues due to the chemicals used in them.


  • Always use a full-size paper towel and lay it flat on a table to make a coffee filter.
  • Fold the paper towels in half vertically.
  • Fold the paper towel in half once more (you will now get an almost square shape)
  • Now, take the folded paper towel and then use the open ends to make a pocket for the coffee grinds, which will be kept in the filter cup.
  • Fill the pocket of paper towels with your preferred fine coffee grounds.
  •  Now fold the outer boundary of paper towels to make sure the pot cover properly closes.
  • Now carefully pour hot water,make sure it’s not boiling, into the filter cup you just made, and let the coffee drain into the pot.
  • Now if this seems a lot, then you can place the paper towel in a fine-mesh sieve and then pour your coffee into it. It will filter out all the coffee to the drip basket or a cup.

Here is a Tip: Try not to add boiling water to the paper towel filter as they tend to break.


Enjoy your freshly brewed coffee now.

Although it may not taste as good as the coffee flavor you might be used to, you can still have a coffee fix without using any paper coffee filter.


Cheesecloth is made of cotton and is used to make cheese. It looks like gauze, which is used to separate liquids from solids.

They come in various grades, from ones that are very fine to ones that are very open. 

If you're out of coffee filters, you can use a fine cheesecloth or a clean dish towel instead.

If you are using a dish towel to make sure it’s not treated with any fabric softener otherwise it can leave some unwanted flavor to your freshly brewed coffee.


Now I am not going to debate if cheese cloth is better than the classic coffee filter? But it gets the work done.

Coffee filter options include butter muslin, dish towel, linen handkerchief, cloth napkin, or even an old T-shirt trimmed to fit.

As long as they weren't treated with harmful chemicals that could ruin the flavor of the coffee.


  • After folding, cut cheesecloth to fit in the carafe. 
  • Use  Elastic bands to secure the fold cheesecloth or your dish towel.
  • When you brew coffee, Make a cup by pouring boiling water over the cheesecloth-filtered coffee grounds.
  • Immersion brewing involves placing hot water in a mason jar with coffee grinds. 
  • Filter coffee via cheesecloth after 4 to 5 minutes.
  • There you go Enjoy your perfect cup of coffee.

Metal Filter

Reusable metal filters just aren't fine enough to catch everything that goes through them. This means that the oils and micro-fines can get through the filter and into the cup.

Micro-fines are small pieces of coffee that are small enough to get through the holes in the filter. This makes the coffee look darker and cloudy.

They also make the flavor more rich and bold, like coffee made in a French press, and they settle at the bottom of the mug, leaving a bit of debris (just like a French press coffee).


  • Make a cup of coffee in a pot.
  • Place the metal filter on your coffee cup
  • Pour over your into the filter
  • It will drip into your cup.

That’s it enjoy a bold, rich, and dense shot of coffee.

Mud Coffee:

"Mud coffee" is another substitute for coffee filters that tastes great. Finely ground coffee or Turkish ground coffee works best for this.

Or you can use Instant coffee while trying out this method.


  •  Just put one cup of grounds in the bottom of your mug, fill it with boiling water, and stir a little. 
  • The coffee grounds will begin to settle. 
  • After letting them settle for a few minutes, you can drink almost all of it without getting grounded in your mouth.
  • If you like your coffee with milk, add it after the coffee grounds have settled in the pot or mug.
  •  If you stir the coffee after the grounds have settled, it will get gritty. 
  • You can also pour out the coffee carefully by not tilting it too much. You’ll get the clean coffee from the surface and not the ground coffee mud.


Whatever coffee filter substitute you choose in an emergency, you can now build a backup plan for the future.

Don't be worried the next time you wake up with no coffee filters. People prepared coffee without filters, coffee pots, or any other coffee machine for years before us.

If you follow any of the above tips, you will certainly have a wonderful and coffee-filled morning. 

Brandon Pierce

About the author

My name is Brandon and I love cold-brew coffee. If you're a fan of everything homebrew, then we'll get along just fine. I also enjoy riding my Onewheel around town, and going on adventures with my future wife! As an online work-from-home advocate, it's important that I stay connected to the world while being able to maintain a healthy work/life balance.

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