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11 Coffee Filter Substitutes



Sasha Pavlovich

 ·  28 February 2023

Many of us start our day with a much needed cup of coffee. We watch the steam rise from the cup and feel the warmth of the mug in our hands. We ingest the nutty, slightly bitter brew, and feel our brain begin to jump-start. The coffee ritual is an important part of the morning– but what happens when you run out of coffee filters? Is there such a thing as a substitute for coffee filter?

You better believe it! Read on for tips on what to do when you need a coffee filter alternative.

11 Coffee Filter Substitutes - brew a coffee in the cup

Cowboy Coffee

Cowboy coffee is a traditional campfire classic that works just as well in the kitchen. Simply boil your water, remove from heat, add grounds, stir, and wait five to ten minutes. Pour your cowboy coffee slowly into your mug, keeping the grounds at the bottom.

No filter is needed! Cowboy coffee is a delicious and simple alternative that will still get you going in the morning. Love the outdoors and coffee? Check out this great guide to brewing coffee outdoors.

Mud Coffee

The idea behind mud coffee is simple– fine grounds and boiling water added together equal coffee, albeit with grounds in the bottom of the mug. Just make sure not to drink the dregs of your coffee, and you’ll be caffeinated and ready to go. Hey, if it works, it works, and mud coffee is a great substitute for a coffee filter.

Instant Coffee

Instant coffee is seen as the lesser brother of brewed coffee. While there are some who turn their noses up at this crystal solution, others are willing to give instant coffee a try– especially on camping trips or other more cumbersome coffee making situations.

Besides, instant coffee can be brewed when the power is out, even mixing with cold water. Sometimes, we just need our caffeine fix, and this stuff does the job as an effective coffee filter substitute.

Kopi Tubruk Method

This is a coffee brewing method that has been popular in Indonesia for many years. The key is bringing your water almost to a boil, but not quite. You’ll also want to use fine grounds.

Place your coffee grounds in your cup. With Kopi Tubruck, any sugar is added at this stage as well. Heat your water to a near boiling point, then pour over the coffee/sugar mixture. Stir and then let the grounds settle to the bottom.

There you have it! Simple and easy coffee filter alternative.

11 Coffee Filter Substitutes - use acaliable tools

Make Your Own Filter

Can you use a paper towel as a coffee filter? Yes! Simply fold your paper towel in half and then in half again. Place your grounds in the middle of your paper towel square, place your “filter” in your pot, and brew away! Be sure to throw away your DIY coffee filter when you’re done making your coffee, and put coffee filters on your grocery list for next time.


Cheesecloth is a versatile fabric used to strain liquids when making cheese from milk, but it has many other filtration uses. If you have cheesecloth in your house, you can brew your morning coffee!

Measure out your coffee grounds. You’ll want medium-coarse to medium size granules. Place the grounds in the cheesecloth, with the cheesecloth over a glass dispenser. Pour your boiling water over the grounds slowly, adding more water as your pour seeps through the cheesecloth.

Cheesecloth makes a great DIY coffee filter, sifting out grounds and providing that morning kick start you need.

Reusable Metal Filters

Another eco-friendly option is a reusable metal filter. These filters have a fine mesh screen which holds your grounds. Pour your water over the filter and voila! Your coffee is ready to go without the muss and fuss of asking the internet, “can you use a paper towel as a coffee filter?”

11 Coffee Filter Substitutes - use a different brewing method

The Coffee Sock

A “coffee sock” has a certain unappealing name, but stick with me here. This piece of equipment is called a sock because of its similarity in appearance to the socks that go on your feet. But no feet are involved in this ingenious and earth friendly coffee making method.

The coffee sock is essentially a cloth tea bag for your coffee. Simply place your grounds in the sock, place the sock into your mug, then pour your boiling water over the sock. Wait a few minutes, and then remove the sock, leaving freshly brewed coffee ready to drink in your mug.

Coffee socks are reusable– simply wash and repeat. This coffee filter substitute will save you money and waste!

French Press

The French press has a long and interesting history as a coffee brewing method. It is also an earth friendly brewing gadget that produces delicious results.

This device consists of the cup and the plunger. Place your coffee grounds in the cup, and pour in not-quite-boiling water. You’ll stir and wait a few minutes, then slowly move the plunger down the cup. Finally, when the plunger touches the grounds, you’ll pour the coffee out of the cup into your mug.

A French press is a classic substitute for coffee filter– pairing well with your breakfast of strawberry crepes.

Moka Pot

It’s very possible you have a moka pot in your house, stored in a box from a bygone era, or a new version created with the latest colors and styles. Either way, this espresso-like device uses steam to produce a delicious, high octane treat, for any time of the day.

Moka pots brought the coffee experience out of the coffeehouse and into the home. Pick one up at your neighbor’s garage sale– the experience is well worth the effort!


A cezve is a little pot with a long handle designed to make Turkish coffee. Coffee grounds are powder-fine, added to sugar, and near-boiling water is poured in, leaving grounds suspended or gathering at the bottom of the cezve. This is a great coffee experience to share with friends, but remember–Turkish coffee packs a wallop!

Coffee Filter Alternatives — There You Have it!

If you’re like me, there’s no way to get going in the morning without a cup or two of coffee to enjoy. I hope after you’ve read through this list, you recognize that there are plenty of ways to make coffee without the traditional number two or number filter. So go forth and drink your coffee– enjoy!

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author sasha
Sasha Pavlovich

Hi, I'm Sasha Pavlovich and welcome to my blog about coffee! As an experienced barista, I have a deep passion for coffee. I love to share my knowledge and enthusiasm with everyone, and I never get tired of talking about it. Whether you're a novice or a connoisseur, I'm sure you'll find something on my site that will make you appreciate the wonderful world of coffee even more.