Picture this: you’ve just woken up. There is no coffee machine in the kitchen. You’re out of electricity. The sun is shinning brutally. There are no coffee filters in the house.
But you need your daily fuel, that magic brew that transforms you for the better. From a grumpy morning beast into an intelligent, smart, and sexy creature. You ask yourself: can I do it? Can I discover the answer to how to make coffee without a filter?
Eventually, you’ll have to figure out the brewing method that will get you through the morning. I’ve provided some useful ways below, have a look and save the day!
Yes, you can! It’s easy to make coffee when there are no filters lying around. I’ll even show you how to make a coffee filter, but please, please, tell me; you do have coffee, right?
Before we set off on a mission of how to make coffee without filter or paper towel, you’ll need 3 things:
- Patience and persistence (I’ll walk you through, but stay calm and remember to breathe)
- Freshly roasted coffee (yes, it gives the best results. Honestly, there are only a few things better than freshly roasted beans.)
- Coffee grinder (once you roast them, you’ll have to grind them too!)
- Hot water (unless you’re making cold brew)
- A little imagination (for making the filter out of thin air)
If all these fail, write a letter to Santa, asking him for a non-electric coffee maker and read the first part of this article below. Electricity-free coffee makers are a godsend and you’ve had a need for it from the moment you started drinking coffee. But, you’ve only realized it at this very moment!
- How to make coffee without a filter?
- How to make coffee without a coffee machine?
- What can you use in place of a coffee filter?
How to make coffee without a filter?
Just because you’ve run out of coffee filters that doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world. Let’s have a look at the effective methods at how to make coffee without a coffee maker first.
Now, I have already talked about how to make coffee on the stove extensively. Click to read that link, it’ll give an in-depth idea of what to do in case your electric coffeemaker one day decides to stop functioning for no reason whatsoever. Unless you own one of these coffeemakers on a budget and the warranty has expired so it’s only logical the machine expires as well.
Anyway, let’s have a look at how you can make coffee without a filter first (but with a coffee gadget)!
1. French press
The first on the list is also (according to many) the most demanding way of making coffee. Not because it requires serious magical skills you can only acquire after passing through the rainforest-based ancient temples and fighting off evil spirits that want to take away your love for coffee. Not really.
It’s demanding because it requires some learning curve and you might make it all wrong before you learn to make it right. But don’t let that scare you off! Read my thorough guide on how to make French press coffee here to learn the tricks!
In other words, it’s not as foolproof as the following method (or the cowboy coffee) but once you get it right, you’ll be making it all the time!
- Ground coffee
- French press coffeemaker
- Grind coffee
- Rinse the carafe
- Heat water and let it cool down a bit
- Add coffee and a bit of hot water into the beaker
- Let your coffee bloom
- Add the remaining water
- Press down the plunger
- Serve and enjoy!
Ideally, you need 2 TBSP of coffee for every 6 ounces of water. You can set the ratio with time if the brew is too weak/strong, but that’s the starting point to make it easier.
Best grinds for French press are medium.
2. Turkish coffee
Ah, Turkish coffee. It’s such a delight in the afternoon or lazy Saturday morning when I have all the time in the world to take it slow, from grinding to enjoying my hot cup of coffee.
Ideally, you’ll need a coffeemaker such as this one to make Turkish coffee. This is an easy method that brews a delicious cup of joe, especially with freshly roasted beans. It forms a lovely foam on top and the smell overtakes the entire kitchen.
If you love cowboy coffee, you should try making Turkish as well. They’re more or less the same thing, but in my mind, Turkish coffee somehow tastes much better!
- Ground coffee
- Coffee cup
- Sugar (optional)
- Add water into your ibrik
- Place it on the stove and bring to a boil
- Remove the ibrik and add the desired amount of coffee (1 heaping TSP per cup)
- Add sugar if using
- Stir well and bring to a boil
- Remove from stove and let it sit for a few minutes
I always fill up ibrik with water almost to the top (2 fingers below) because I make this type of coffee when there are people around and we drink it fresh in one go.
I have smaller coffee cups for this type of coffee and I always go with 1 teaspoon per cup, but a generous amount.
Far from my favorite method, it is however very handy especially in the great outdoors. It does require to have a heat source (duh) but feel free to choose between a campfire or a regular stovetop in your kitchen. Heck, you can ever try brewing this one on the barbecue if you want, but in that case, make some photos and share them with us!
This method is not complicated. But the list of instructions is longer than with other methods and I’ve already written about it before. That’s why, have a look at my post on how to make coffee on the stove, for method #6! You can also find the coffee-water ratio in that post!
But to give you an idea, here are all the things you need to make coffee in a percolator:
- A percolator (obviously)
- Coffee (normal or coarsely ground)
- Coffee cup
4. Cowboy coffee
An old-fashioned way of making coffee, this method I almost the same as the Turkey coffee, except that you don’t require any special equipment apart from an ordinary kitchen pot.
While this method may be popular on camping trips and weekend adventures, you don’t actually have to be a cowboy to make it. From all 5 methods listed here, this is the easiest option. Mind you, if you’ve used to espresso machines, you may not like this type of coffee coming from your cooking pot. I personally don’t, so I have a good old moka pot that has saved the day plenty of times!
- Ground coffee beans
- Pan with a lid
- Coffee mug
- Sugar (optional)
- Add water to a pan (1.5 cups per cup)
- Place the pan on the stove and bring to a boil
- Add the right amount of coffee (2 TBSP per cup)
- Remove the pan from heat and cover it
- Let it sit for 5 minutes
- Once the grounds are settled on the bottom, serve it
If adding sugar, I like to add it in step 1. That way you avoid extra stirring after the coffee has settled and prevent any grounds from floating in your cup unnecessarily.
5. Moka pot
Ah, there are few sounds that I like in the morning, but the soft bubbling of moka pot on the stove is definitely one of my favorites (not hearing the alarm clock is obviously #1).
The method is easy and the coffee is ready quite quickly. It’s perfect for Tuesday morning rush or Friday afternoon after work coffee time!
- Moka pot
- Warm water
- Ground coffee (espresso style)
- A coffee cup
- Heat water and pour it into the bottom container
- Cover with the filter and fill that with coffee
- Add the top part and twist them together until sealed tightly
- Place on the stove and turn on the heat
- Brew with an open lid on low/medium heat
- Turn off the heat once you hear the soft bubbling sound
- Serve fresh!
- Good morning!
How to make coffee without a coffee machine?
Now, this is the option for all of you who owned an electric coffeemaker up to about 5 minutes ago, when it all of a sudden decided that its time had come. In case you have none of the 5 gadgets introduced up there lying around, it’s best to improvise and calm your nerves before you freak out completely. For your sake, I hope it’s not Monday morning when you’re reading this!
There are a few ways on how to make a hot cup of fuel without the proper equipment. Relax, I won’t advise you to desperately eat your coffee straight from the jar with a spoon, no matter how reasonable that decision may seem in the moment of utter desperation.
Before we get to it, let me ask you a few questions:
Do you have ground coffee or coffee beans (you can grind) at home?
Awesome, you’re saved.
Do you have a coffee filter?
- Yes? Use it and make coffee with that.
- No? Read on!
Let’s have a look at how to make coffee with just a filter!
1. DIY coffee filter
Don’t worry about making your own filter, there are a number of different ways to make one. I’ve used a cheesecloth in this recipe, but see below for more ideas. You probably have at least one of these materials somewhere in your house, so pick whatever you believe would work the best.
- Ground coffee
- A coffee mug
- Paper clips, elastics
- A cheesecloth
- Boil the water and let it cool slightly
- In the meantime, place the cheesecloth over the cup and secure it with clips or elastics or anything else you have on hand
- Place coffee into the filter
- Pour over a bit of coffee and let it bloom for a bit
- Slowly pour the rest of the water (stir and tease the coffee a bit if the filter is thick to help speed the drip)
- Remove your DIY filter and enjoy!
If you’re out of cheesecloths, you can also use a paper/napkin/tissue, as shown in the video below!
2. DIY Coffee bag
Some people drink tea. I drink tea as well. And that’s why I always have some disposable tea bags lying around. When your electric coffeemaker draws its last breath, you can brew coffee with this tea bag. It’s less messy than the DIY filter and also much quicker.
- Empty tea bag
- Ground coffee
- A coffee cup
- Boil the water and let it sit to cool down slightly
- Add coffee into the coffee/tea bag and place it into the cup
- Slowly pour the water over the coffee
- Let it sit for about 5 minutes (or less; the longer you wait the stronger the coffee)
- Remove the bag
- Drink up!
3. French press improvisation
I seriously dislike this method. I can easily make a mess at any time and there’s a great chance the coffee grounds somehow always end up in the final coffee cup. But, when everything else fails, at least you’ll have a method to brew it by!
- Freshly ground coffee
- 2 coffee cups
- Boil the water and let it sit for half a minute before pouring over the coffee
- Place 2 TBSP coffee into one cup (250 ml)
- Pour over the water to fill your cup
- Let the coffee sit for about 5 minutes (brewing time depends on how strong the coffee will be)
- Once the brewing is over, pour the coffee from one cup into another SLOWLY. Since the grounds settle at the bottom, they should stay there if you’re careful enough (they never do with me though, for some reason). When you see the grounds approaching the rim of the cup, stop pouring!
- Drink it and enjoy. And FYI, this method is not totally strange. I have a French friend who always drinks it this way! (we tried getting him some actual coffeemakers but he claims the “traditional” way is the best)
4. The mesh strainer method
Don’t get too excited just yet, just because you have a strainer. You’ll actually need a fine double-layer mesh strainer with small holes that can easily prevent grounds ending up in your coffee.
- A fine mesh strainer
- Coffee grounds
- A coffee cup
- Boil the water and let it sit for a bit
- Place the strainer over the cup
- Add the coffee into the strainer (2 TBSP per cup)
- Pour water over the coffee and let it brew for a few minutes
- Remove the strainer and you’re good to go!
5. Microwave method
There’s an ongoing debate online whether coffee should be made (and reheated) in the microwave or not. I’m not a fan of microwaves, hardly ever use it, and haven’t found its true magic just yet, even though most households can’t imagine their life without it. But let’s leave it at that.
If you’re friends with your microwave, it can serve to make coffee as well.
- Ground coffee
- A microwave
- A coffee cup
- Fill the cup with water and put it into the microwave to heat it up properly (but not boil)
- Add coffee and stir well
- Let it sit for a few minutes and let the coffee brew
- Drink up when it’s strong enough for your taste!
6. Instant coffee?
Well, there is no serious debate about instant coffee anywhere in the world of coffee aficionados, artists, baristas, snobs, lovers or anyone else. Instant coffee isn’t real coffee; many will tell you.
But, if you’re home alone and all you have is some nespresso from your mom, we’ve mentioned it before; desperate times…desperate needs. I’d still advise you to forget about this last method and go get some coffee from the closest coffee shop if you can. Also, buy some proper coffee while you’re at it!
What can you use in place of a coffee filter?
Let’s have a look at how you can, at your best, improvise a decent filter to make a brew that will see you through! Substitutes for coffee filters include:
- Tea-towel cloth
- Stocking or a pair of tights (but careful with nylon, they might melt in hot water!)
- Mesh sieve
- Empty tea bags
- Cheap baking cups
- An old sock
- Reuse paper coffee filters (by rinsing and drying them)
Is it OK to use paper towels as coffee filters?
Depends on who you ask. I’ve had a few major disasters with paper towels, so I’d advise you to try anything else from the top list before you cave in and reach for a paper towel. I have found optimistic claims online that it works well, but…give it a try and see for yourself!
In that case, know that the quality of the coffee won’t be as good. Also, use double-strength paper towels for the best results.