For most American households, a morning cup of Joe is probably more important than a hearty breakfast. But to make our precious java we actually need a filter (unless you want to However when you’re in a hurry, you may wonder, what can I use as a coffee filter?
You can use a variety of handy substitutes – paper towels, mesh filters and even a dry napkin!
There are so many substitutes that you can use to filter out the coffee beans and you’ll find most of these items in your pantry or kitchen counter.
Let’s be honest, if you’re a hardcore coffee junkie, imagining your morning without the rich aroma of coffee can be one of the hardest images to conjure.
And unfortunately, running out of coffee filters is a fairly common household problem.
- Also read: How to make coffee without a filter?
But this minor obstacle shouldn’t keep you away from your precious morning coffee and in this article, we will walk you through some of the ideal substitutes for a coffee filter.
The 8 Best Coffee Filter Alternatives You Should Try!
We’ve done all the hard work for you by compiling these totally badass coffee filter substitutes that you can begin using today.
1. Napkins & Paper Towels
Coffee filters are typically made with a porous paper that filters out the beans and allows the liquid to pass into the cup.
You can get the same effect with a paper towel, which is one of the most commonly used substitutes for coffee filters.
Dry napkins and paper towels that are always lying around and they will filter your coffee just as well as a traditional coffee filter.
Just make sure that the paper towel or napkin you use is spotlessly clean and new.
Do you have a cheesecloth lying around in your pantry?
Cheesecloth is used in making cheese and it’s also an excellent substitute for a coffee filter.
It is typically made with loose cotton and it can be either coarse or highly refined, depending on specific quality preferences.
The finer the grade quality, the more useful it will be for filtering coffee as the grounds will not be able to penetrate the cloth.
If you don’t have a cheesecloth, consider buying one as it is also useful in other activities such as wine-making and printmaking.
But most importantly, it will provide you with a solid substitute whenever you run out of coffee filters.
3. Butter Muslin
Butter muslin is made with a tightly woven cotton fabric and it is much similar to a cheesecloth.
It’s used for making butter and can also be used for filtering coffee.
However, unless you make your own butter at home (most people don’t), you probably won’t have a butter muslin lying around.
But you can always use a tightly sewn piece of cloth or garment if you don’t have cheesecloth or butter muslin at home.
You need a cloth with tinier pores to make sure the coffee grounds don’t make their way into your cup.
Just be sure to pick up a new piece of cloth or one that is clean as you don’t want to expose your cuppa joe to bacteria and dirt particles.
4. Toilet Paper
As gross as it may sound, using a toilet paper as an alternative for coffee filters is fairly common and works like a charm.
In fact, toilet papers offer more utility than napkins and paper towels.
This is because of their ability to be easily shaped, which ensures a perfect fit in the filter cup.
Paper towels are usually thinner, but toilet paper packs up a thicker density that allows the coffee to flow more easily.
It is advisable to use a two-ply toilet paper as a one-ply paper is likely to rip apart and create an awful mess.
5. Wire Mesh Filter
A wire mesh filter has multiple uses around the kitchen and it’s a great investment that can also be used as a coffee filter.
Most newly manufactured coffee makers come with built-in mesh filters, but these filters can also be purchased individually.
Your best bet is to choose a shape that fits perfectly with your coffee maker.
Note that metal filters are far superior and more useful than paper filters, while stainless steel designs offer even longer durability as they do not rust.
Not only that but wire mesh filters are eco-friendly and sustainable.
- Also read: How to make strong coffee without a coffee maker?
Even better, you can reuse them after washing, just like any other utensil.
So if you’re tired of running out of coffee filters and looking for substitutes, this one-time investment is all you need.
As hard as it may be to believe this, socks are among the oldest and most common methods of straining coffee.
It’s actually not the sock that does the magic, but in fact, the thick cotton or muslin piece that proves highly effective at filtering.
Come to think of it – socks are much more eco-friendly and sustainable than regular coffee filters as they can be washed and reused.
There are two different methods of using socks to filter your coffee:
- Place coffee grounds in a sock and hold it over the pot as you pour in hot water
- Place the sock inside the pot as you boil the water and allow the coffee to steep for a while
The second method works quite well for coarse or medium ground coffee and you can even use a pair of stockings or a handkerchief.
Using socks is such an efficient coffee filtering process and your custom-made reusable coffee socks will prove it.
7. Mud Coffee
If you’re running out of options and simply cannot put your coffee where your feet ought to be, mud coffee is another alternative.
Although this is not a coffee filter per se, it involves making your coffee with the grounds in the mug.
It can be slightly bitter and distasteful, but if you like strong coffee, you might like the taste much more than filtered coffee.
Here’s how to make mud coffee:
- Put more than one teaspoon of coffee in the bottom of the mug and add boiling water
- Begin stirring the mixture (the grounds will accumulate in the bottom)
- Let it rest for 5 minutes to allow the grounds to fully settle before you start drinking
Contrary to what most people think, you can drink up all the way to the bottom without finding any bitter coffee grounds in your mouth.
And if you add milk to your coffee, add it once the grounds have settled to the bottom.
Be sure to avoid stirring the coffee once the grounds have settled as it can cause the coffee to become too gritty.
Lastly, it’s best to use freshly ground coffee for this brewing method.
8. Cowboy Coffee
Cowboy coffee is another easy recipe i.e. brewing technique to fix yourself a delicious cup of coffee without needing a coffee filter or substitute.
If you manage to make it well, this will undoubtedly be the best coffee you’ve ever had!
And even better – you do not need a coffee maker or any other gadgets here.
Here’s how to utilize the Cowboy coffee method:
- Boil 8 ounces of water
- While the water is still boiling, toss in 2 tablespoons of finely ground coffee to the water
- Bring the coffee to a boil before pouring it into a cup
You can add natural sweeteners, such as honey or agave or even some chocolate syrup as a taste enhancer – it’s up to you.
Running out of genuine coffee filters sucks but thanks to our 8 superb alternatives, you won’t be deprived of your morning cup of java!
And if you always end up forgetting to buy coffee filters and do not have any substitutes lying around at home, it’s probably best to invest in some instant coffee.
- Also read: How to make strong instant coffee?
Instant coffee is a reliable backup plan for hardcore coffee drinkers as it doesn’t require any filtering.
It’s always best to have some instant coffee lying around in your pantry if you cannot imagine starting your day without a strong cuppa joe.
But what do you personally do when you find out that you have no coffee filters left?
Do you go with an alternative filter or do you immediately go and buy a stack of new ones?
Leave your answer in the comments below!
Did somebody say coffee? Two shots of espresso for me, thanks. Oh, nevermind – I’m Simon, nice to e-meet you, dear CoffeeLifior! I like to write, drink coffee and I believe in Jesus. Highly-caffeinated drinks are my thing, but you can occasionally see me sip on decaf (my wife never finishes her coffee). Speaking of which, I’m off to grab another cup of caffeinated goodness now, laters!