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 however born in Germany when in 1908 a housewife created a system to remove the bitterness from regular coffee. She patented her invention and started a little company with her husband and sons and slowly made business while spreading the popularity of coffee brewed in this way. The main reason or this explosion in popularity of filtered coffee lies in the health benefits it brings.

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.  The research involved million Norwegian men and women between the ages of 20 to 79 and followed them for 20 years.  The results were astonishing – it turned out that those who drank non filtered coffee had a much higher risk of premature death, especially men. Drinking filtered coffee, however, turned out to be healthier than not drinking coffee at all. The study showed that drinking this type of coffee reduced the risk of death from any cause by 12% and 15% from cardiovascular diseases for men and 20% for women.

Coffee Filter Alternatives

However, no matter how much you are used to filtering coffee and how much you think of all the things you need to buy when you go shopping for groceries there are some things that you forget to put on the list. Coffee filters are often among those things. So you might find yourself often in the situation that you don’t one of the most essential pieces of equipment you need to make your favorite cup of joe. But you don’t have to freak out when in the morning you open the cabinet and realize that the filter box is empty because there are plenty of coffee filter substitute options. 

Paper Towel or Napkin

 People are often asking can I use a paper towel as a coffee filter? Paper towels and napkins are most commonly used as a substitute for coffee filters because practically every household has them anyway.  Additionally, they are simple 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, take remove the filter and you are good to start enjoying your favorite beverage.

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 it. 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 as a gadget exclusively used for tea but in fact, many people are using it as 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 to 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 use 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 

Using the toilet paper is practically the same method as using a paper towel and napkin when you are thinking about what can I use as a coffee filter substitute. You simply put the paper of the cup add coffee to it and slowly 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 wit toilet paper or paper towels. It is a 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 

We explained what are coffee filter substitutes and how to use them if you enjoy filtered coffee. Some people don’t like it though. If this is your case 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 then 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. You can similarly prepare mud coffee.

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 is 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 if 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. We hope this text helped you to find the best coffee filter substitute. Do you drink filtered coffee? What type of filters do you use?

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