Running out of coffee filters can be a nightmare. But it doesn’t have to be this way!
Did you know you can easily make coffee without a filter at home? Today, I’ll show you how to do it, along with DIY filter ideas, useful tips, and tricks.
Let’s have a look at the coffee filter alternatives and nifty ways to make a cup of joe at home!
Making coffee without filter paper is easier than you may think. But before we discover how to make coffee without a filter or paper towel, you’ll need 5 things:
- Patience and persistence (I’ll walk you through, but stay calm and remember to breathe)
- Freshly ground coffee (or pre-ground, whatever works for you best)
- A clean pot, mug, or cup
- Hot water (unless you’re making cold brew)
- A little imagination
If all these fail, write a letter to Santa, asking him for a non-electric coffee maker with express delivery! If you don’t have that much time, you can always start eating coffee beans from the bag, though visiting a coffee shop around the corner might be a better option!
- 3 ways to make coffee without a filter
- How can you make coffee filter at home?
- Coffee Filter Substitute: Use This Instead
- Making coffee without a filter: the Final Solution
- Recommended Reading
3 ways to make coffee without a filter
Just because you’ve run out of coffee filters doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world. There are three ways to making coffee without a filter:
1. Use a coffee maker that doesn’t require any electricity
I’ve already talked extensively on how to brew coffee on the stove with a coffee maker: you can use Moka pot, French press, pour-over coffee maker, and a percolator. It’s quite handy to keep one of these at home just in case your coffee machine stops working unexpectedly.
2. Make coffee on the stove in a pot
This option doesn’t require you to have any coffee filters on hand. Brew coffee with a cowboy coffee method, and a Turkish or Bosnian coffee method. You’ll need freshly ground coffee, some sort of pot where you’ll cook the coffee, and a coffee mug or five. This method isn’t popular with everyone as you’ll end up with grounds floating in your cup.
3. Make a coffee filter yourself
Have a look below at what can you use in place of a coffee filter and how to make one yourself.
How can you make coffee filter at home?
Making your own filter at home isn’t as difficult as it may seem, so you don’t have to consider eating those raw beans straight from the bag just yet. As long as you have fresh coffee beans/ grounds at home, you’ll be able to drink it in no time!
Let’s have a look at how to make coffee without filter or paper towel!
1. DIY coffee filter
I’ve used cheesecloth in this recipe, but a paper towel or a handkerchief work just as well. If you have one of these three at home, pick the one you believe would work best, and create your emergency filter!
- Ground coffee
- A coffee mug
- Paper clips, elastics
- A fine-grade cheesecloth (handkerchief, paper towel)
- 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 homemade coffee filter and enjoy!
2. DIY Coffee bag
Some people drink tea (can you imagine?). And I drink tea as well (sometimes, I confess). That means that I always have some disposable tea bags lying around. When your electric coffeemaker draws its last breath, you can brew hot coffee with a teabag. It’s less messy than the homemade coffee 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
This one’s a messy method and I’m not a fan, but it might be this is the only option you have when you’re out of filters, tea bags, and paper towels. But, there’s a high chance that you’ll end up with coffee grounds in your mug. If you’re choosing between this option and Turkish coffee, I’d prefer Turkish coffee, but the final decision is up to you.
- 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 hot 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 as strange as it seems; 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. Once you have that, you can easily brew. If you’re wondering how to strain coffee without a filter, this is one of the easiest options available!
- 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, but if you’re wondering if you can make coffee in the microwave, the answer is a definite yes. Here’s how:
- 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, or if you actually enjoy instant coffee (some instant Colombian coffee options turned out to be quite popular), feel free to use it!
Coffee Filter Substitute: Use This Instead
Let’s have a look at how you can improvise a coffee filter! Here are the alternatives:
- Tea-towel cloth or a dish towel
- 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 (I’d suggest you clean it unless you want a subtle aroma of leather in your coffee)
- Reuse coffee paper filters (by rinsing and drying them)
Is it OK to use paper towels as coffee filters?
It depends. Using the paper towel as coffee filter is a practical approach but I’ve had a few major disasters with paper towels (but I’m a klutz, so my experience isn’t the most reliable).
Plus, paper towels may not be the best way to make a filter given the fact they’re bleached and contain contaminants that can get into your coffee. If you don’t mind/care, have a look at the video below on how to make a filter with a paper towel:
Making coffee without a filter: the Final Solution
As you can see, there are several different ways to make coffee filter alternatives. These are easy to make and won’t deprive you of your daily cup.
The most practical approach to no coffee filter is still a coffee maker such as Moka pot and French press. If you don’t have any of these, make yourself a substitute for a coffee filter, I’ve listed quite a lot in the article above.
Another option is to make cold brew coffee, but you have to plan ahead as this method requires you to brew coffee at least 12 hours or overnight. The good part is that you can make a concentrate that’ll last you for a couple of days. What’s more, you don’t need any fancy equipment: a large mason jar will do the trick! Can’t figure out how to strain cold brew coffee without a strainer? Brew it in a French press pot; the plunger will take care of the straining.
The easiest way is probably the cowboy coffee method, but not everyone’s a fan, so you can easily opt-in for a fine mesh filter that doesn’t leave any grounds in your cup nor additional unwanted flavor or chemicals you may get from using a paper towel.
What’s your favorite no coffee filter hack?