Coffee Filter Substitute for Your Coffee Machine

Learn How to Choose the Best Filter Substitute for Your Coffee Machine

We all love coffee and we drink it in different ways. In the U.S as well as some other parts of the world such as Chennai in India one of the most popular types is filter coffee.  

Filtered coffee is a creation of a German housewife – Melitta Benz. In 1908 she invented a way to take away the bitterness of the coffee, with the help of paper coffee filters. Ever since then, filtered coffee has gained a lot of popularity, for its taste and, as it turned out later, a bunch of health benefits.

According to various studies such as this one conducted in Norway filtered coffee is much healthier than the one made in Moka pot or French press etc.  It reduces the risk of premature death and cardiovascular diseases. 

And you too can easily drink filtered coffee, with the help of the best filter substitute. And believe it or not, finding it is not that hard, and chances are you already have one at home.

Coffee Filter Alternatives

Not all people have coffee filters, but that is not a problem. There are plenty of coffee substitutes options you can choose from:

Paper Towel or Napkin

Ever wondered: “Can I use a paper towel as a coffee filter?” – Yes! Paper towels and napkins are most commonly used as a substitute for coffee filters because you can easily find them in every home.  Plus, these are easy to use. 

Basically what you need to do is fold the paper and put it on the top of the cup to cover. Then put about two spoons of coffee and pour hot but not boiling water slowly over it. After you have used all the water, remove the filter and you’re all good!

paper towel as a coffee filter


  • Easy to find 
  • Contains even small particles 


  • Contains glue, bleach and other chemicals
  • Breaks easily 

Cloth Towel or Napkin

For this method, you need a clean cloth towel or napkin and you have to be okay with having coffee stains on it. Depends on what kind of coffee making equipment you have put the cloth on. To make sure it stays firmly on the best is to fix it with a rubber band. Then you need to put coffee and pour water slowly kind of in a similar way as with paper towels.  When the water completely passes through you can remove the towel.

cloth towel or napkin as a coffee filter


  • Every house has cloths
  • Reusable 
  • Inexpensive


  • Staining the cloth 
  • Coffee smells like a detergent

Fine Mesh Sieves

You might think of it as a gadget exclusively used for tea but in fact, many people are using it as a coffee filter replacement. Almost everyone probably already has it so it is another really practical solution when you are wondering what can I use instead of a coffee filter. 

First, you need to put about 2 teaspoons of coffee in a measuring cup and pour hot water over it. Let it sit for about 5 minutes and then pour the coffee through a fine-mesh sieve.

Fine Mesh Sieves


  • Simple to use 
  • Coffee tastes good 
  • Accessible


  • Doesn’t contain the fine grounds

Reusable Tea Bags

Those who use real tea leaves certainly have reusable tea bags at home. This is quite an alternative variation when you are thinking about what can be used in place of a coffee filter but it is a pretty good one. 

Generally, with this method, you will simply put coffee in tea bags and close them. Then you will take a coffee mug with hot water and put the bag inside the same way you would do it as tea was inside.  Let it steep for around 5 minutes and you can enjoy your coffee.

Reusable Tea Bags


  • Doesn’t leave any grounds
  • Taste is strong
  • Easy to use 


  • More expensive 

Toilet Paper 

When you’re thinking about “what can I use as a coffee filter substitute?” The last thing you’re thinking about is toilet paper. But that’s not like that at all! Toilet paper is practically the same method as using a paper towel and napkin – and it’s not less hygienic, no matter what it seems like at first. 

You simply put the paper in the cup, add coffee to it and slowly pour hot but not boiling water. When all water passes through remove the paper.

Toilet Paper as a coffee filter substitute


  • It exists in every house 
  • Cheap 
  • Holds the fine grounds


  • Tears easily


Of course, unless you or someone close to you makes their cheese it is quite unlikely that you have a cheesecloth.  If you however can find it we recommend you try filtering coffee with it. The method is the same as with toilet paper or paper towels – simple and effective way of brewing filtered coffee.



  • Simple to use 
  • You can use it many times 
  • Doesn’t change the taste of coffee


  • Not easy to find

Alternative Brewing Methods Without Filters 

As you see, there are plenty of coffee filter substitutes and they are quite easy to use. But not all people want to bother with so much work. If you’re one of them, then you might be interested in other brewing methods so we are going to explain how to make coffee without filter!

Cowboy Coffee & Mud Coffee

Cowboy coffee is the type of brewing method that you can commonly see people use around the campfire. Depending on the quality of coffee and your style the coffee can be really bad or really good. If you want to make a good coffee without coffee filter substitutes you need to have good coffee, water that is cooler than the boiling temperature, and a good pot.

First what you need to do is bring water to a boil and then remove the pot and let the water cool. For every 8 ounces of water add two tablespoons of coffee. Bring it back to fire and leave for about 2 minutes, stir and let it sit for another two minutes.

French Press & Moka Pot

If you run out of filters but don’t want coffee grounds floating around, you can use a French press or Moka pot. Both are super simple to use and the coffee is amazing. Additionally, none of these gadgets leave any coffee ground residue.  Moka pot is additionally good because it’s a plastic-free coffee maker.

Instant Coffee 

A lot of people say it is not a real coffee and they avoid it. One thing is certain and that is that the taste of instant coffee is not as full as with other types. However, preparing an instant coffee is a good way to not have residual grounds in your cup. And a great benefit is that you don’t have to think about things like coffee filter substitute.


People, and maybe you are one of them tend to go into panic mode when they realize they don’t have filters for coffee. However, as you could see there are plenty of good solutions to this problem so you don’t need to worry about it. And hopefully, we’ve helped you to find the best coffee filter substitute! So, do you drink filtered coffee? And what type of filters do you use? Feel free to share with us in the comments!

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