What Is The Best Coffee Filter Substitute?

Last Updated on 05/02/2022 by Miki

Coffee filters are used in many households to filter coffee grounds when brewing coffee in a pot or in a machine. When the coffee filters are used often, it can be beneficial to store them in a container with an air-tight seal in order to keep them fresh and prevent any odours from spreading to other items in the kitchen. Now, what if, for some reason, you don’t have a coffee filter at all? What should you do? What is the best coffee filter substitute?

Thankfully, there are still other options to make a decent cup of coffee without a coffee filter. So, you don’t need to panic! You should stay calm and explore different types of coffee filter substitutes in this article.

7 Best Coffee Filter Substitutes

1. A Paper Towel

a paper towel

As a coffee filter substitute, a paper towel is one of the most convenient pieces of kitchenware that I’ve discovered. It might seem strange at first, but paper towels are pretty common for brewing your coffee. You can make a cone out of a paper towel or you can use it flat to create a coffee filter. All you need to do is place the coffee grounds in the centre of the paper towel, pour hot water into the paper towel, then let it sleep for a few minutes.

The benefits of using paper towels as coffee filter substitutes are that they are recycled, affordable and easy to find. I always have paper towels on the kitchen bench and stock them up in the cupboard, so it’s really handy. On the other hand, the drawback may be that the potential chemicals used in producing paper towels and the fact that they do not filter out the oils and minerals can affect the taste of your coffee.

2. A Dish Towel

dish towel

Nowadays, we can find a lot of innovative ways to use dish towels. One of the ways is to use it as a coffee filter substitute. According to people who tries this, dish towels can be reused and they can withstand high heat. Dish towels are said to be tougher than paper coffee filters and to provide a thicker filter, which can filter out any coffee grounds left behind. For those who don’t have a coffee filter at home, a dish towel as a coffee filter substitute is a fast and easy solution. It is also cheaper than paper towels and is more environmentally friendly. However, be warned that the dish towel used for brewing coffee is likely stained. So, you don’t want to choose your favourite.

3. A Fine-Mesh Sieve

A fine-mesh sieve can often be substituted for a coffee filter like paper filters or metal filters. One of the benefits of using a mesh sieve is that it allows the coffee beans oils to stay in the coffee where they belong. There are some disadvantages to using a mesh sieve as well. One of them is that it doesn’t allow the grounds to settle to the bottom of the cup just like paper filters do. Another disadvantage is that it can affect the taste of the coffee depending on the size of the holes in the mesh. It can also allow the grounds to clog up certain parts or all of the mesh. Having said that, it is extremely easy to use and it can make a larger batch. If you have a fine-mesh sieve at home, then it can be your perfect coffee filter substitute.

4. Cheesecloth


Cheesecloth is a nifty kitchen tool that can be used for a variety of things. One of the most popular uses for cheesecloth is as a coffee filter. For those of you that like to drink coffee, you’re probably aware of how costly and wasteful paper coffee filters can be. Well, there’s a more eco-friendly and cost-effective option for you. Cheesecloth is a great alternative to traditional coffee filters. The porous fabric is made of natural fibres that are gentle in the environment. Also, it is durable enough to be reused.

How to use cheesecloth as a coffee filter substitute:

  1. Fold in half a 100% cotton, natural colour cheesecloth to make a double layer.
  2. Put the cloth on top of a mug or cup to help filter coffee.
  3. Brew coffee by simply pour hot water into ground coffee.
  4. Pour coffee into the cup.
  5. Take the cheesecloth out of the cup.

Cheesecloth is only used to filter the coffee; it is not used to brew the coffee like a filter might be used.

5. A Sock


Trying to find an alternative to a coffee filter? There are many ways to go about it, but I have found that socks are one of the most creative. Brewing coffee with a sock is simple. All you need is a sock, freshly ground coffee and water.

Here’s how to use a sock as a coffee filter substitute:

  1. Fill the sock with the coffee grounds.
  2. Pour in hot water and let sit for at least 5 minutes.
  3. After the water has dripped through the sock, pour over your favourite mug of coffee.

There are some benefits to brewing coffee with a sock. For starters, it’s easy to use and also more affordable than using paper filters, which can be expensive. In addition, the sock is reusable and easy to clean after the first use.

6. A Reusable Tea Bag

Reusable tea bags are not just for tea drinkers. The single-cup reusable tea bag is perfect for coffee drinkers. This is an excellent alternative for people who want to make coffee without a coffee filter. The reusable tea bag is intended to be used about 10-20 times before throwing away.

How to use a reusable tea bag as a coffee filter substitute:

  1. Add some ground coffee to a tea bag and place the tea bag over the top of the cup or mug.
  2. Pour hot water through it.
  3. Let it steep for 3-5 minutes, depending on your preferred strength in coffee.

This is an eco-friendly option for those who enjoy coffee but prefer to avoid disposable filters. In fact, you can eliminate waste and not be wasteful by using one reusable tea bag instead of wasting disposable coffee filters.

​7. No Coffee Filter

Last but not least, you can choose a brewing method without a coffee filter. What I recommend first is using a French press. It’d be one of the most common coffee makers among coffee lovers, so I assume that you might have one. If you don’t want to spend money on disposable coffee filters anymore, then you will want to get a French press. Another option is using the cowboy method. You don’t even need a coffee maker and you can brew your coffee with what you already have a t home.


Final Thoughts

It is common for people to use coffee filters to brew coffee. However, there are plenty of other things you can use to brew coffee that are better for the environment and your wallets. Some of them include paper towels, fine-mesh sieves, cheesecloth and many more. The best coffee filter substitute can be found by understanding what type of coffee filter is the best for your needs. It is not easy to choose one single alternative to replace all coffee filters because each alternative has its pros and cons. I hope this article can help you find the best coffee filter substitute 🙂

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