10 Substitutes For A Coffee Filter – What’s The Best Alternative?

Who wouldn’t love the rich and smooth taste of pour-over coffee?

Not only does filtered coffee offers a vibrant flavour, but watching your coffee grounds steep slowly feels therapeutic. But what if you ran out of paper filters?

When your coffee filter is out of stock, check your kitchen for reasonable alternatives. It can be paper towels, a mesh sieve, cheesecloth, or reusable tea bags.

These items work well in filtering your coffee, so you can still enjoy a flavorful, smooth cup.

Surprisingly, there are many items in your kitchen that you can use as coffee filter substitutes.

If you want to know which of your stocks you can use, read on as I will discuss ten kitchen items that you can filter your coffee with.

Coffee Filter Substitutes: What Works Well?

coffee filter substitutes
Coffee filter substitutes can bring out the rich flavour of coffee.

After waking up in the morning, you probably want a shot of caffeine to help you become active.

But what could be worse than finding out that you no longer have a stock of coffee filters?

I, myself, love the taste of filtered coffee. And I have also experienced running out of filters just when I want to prepare my favourite drink.

Fortunately, I found out that there are simple items in my kitchen that I can use to hold my coffee grounds.

1. Mesh Sieve

If you bake at home, chances are you have a mesh sieve hidden somewhere. Well, you can use that as a coffee filter.

Just like a paper filter, a fine-mesh sieve produces a flavorful cup of coffee. It is also reusable, so you can always grab it whenever you don’t have any filter papers available.

The only downside I find when using a mesh sieve is that some fine coffee grounds can pass through it. Still, it is one of the best coffee filter substitutes that I tried.

2. Paper Towel

A paper towel is the most common coffee filter alternative. It can hold coffee grounds perfectly, resulting in a smooth cup of coffee.

However, paper towels can contain chemicals that can affect the taste of your coffee. So, you should stick to the brown and unbleached variety. Paper towels can also be flimsy, so you may want to use a couple of layers when filtering.

3. Muslin Filter

vintage making coffee with thai style vintage filter effect 1
A muslin filter is one of the best yet uncommon coffee filter substitutes.

As a full-fledged coffee enthusiast, I always have a muslin filter on the go. A muslin filter is a finely knitted organic cotton or flannel cloth used for holding coffee grounds during the brewing process.

It has a round metal at the top to hold it open. The metal also extends as a handle for convenient use.

This coffee-making tool is common in Southeast Asian countries like Singapore, Thailand, and Malaysia.

This item is an excellent coffee filter alternative. The only downside is that you have to wash it after each use.

4. Dish Towels or Cheesecloths

Cloths are excellent coffee filter substitutes.

When using one, simply wrap it into the compartment where you normally put your coffee grounds.

Then slowly pour water, as if you are making a pour-over coffee. Just make sure to wash the cloth right after using it, so the stain will wash off easily.

5. Handkerchief

I wanted to know what coffee filter substitutes work well, so I have tried every possible item. One of the best ones that I tried is a handkerchief.

You can either use it like how you would use a dishtowel or create a pouch to better hold the coffee grounds.

6. French Press

If you are a coffee enthusiast, you probably have a french press or other immersion brewers in your coffee corner.

The good thing is that you can use this tool as a coffee filter alternative. This coffee tool provides a richly flavoured cup of coffee conveniently.

However, some fine coffee grounds can pass through the plunger, which affects your coffee’s quality.

7. Cowboy Coffee

coffe filter substitutes
If you run out of filters, the cowboy coffee brewing does not need coffee filter substitutes.

This one is more of a brewing method than a filter substitute. Boil water to a pot and add about two tablespoons of finely ground coffee.

As the water boils, it will extract the flavours of coffee, so it’s perfect for people who want their coffee strong.

But before transferring your coffee in a mug, let the grounds settle at the bottom of the pot first to ensure that it will not go into your mug.

I find this method one of the best coffee filter substitutes since it produces a good cup of coffee.

8. Socks

Yes, a sock that you use for your foot. As odd as it may sound, a sock is one of the most effective coffee filter substitutes.

I happen to have a new pair of cotton socks at home, and I tried using one to filter my coffee. It works very well in holding the coffee grounds, leaving my coffee smooth and tasty.

Using a sock is also environmentally friendly. You can simply wash the cotton sock and reuse it every time you make coffee.

9. Mud Coffee

coffee filter substitutes
Mud coffee is a way to enjoy caffeine without paper filters and coffee filter substitutes.

Like cowboy coffee, mud coffee is a brewing method that does not use filters. All you have to do is add fine coffee grounds in an empty mug.

Then, pour in boiling water and stir. The hot water will extract the coffee’s flavours as the grounds settle.

After a couple of minutes, the grounds will settle fully, allowing you to drink your coffee without the gritty feeling of the grounds.

10. Reusable Tea Bags

If you like sipping tea, chances are you have reusable tea bags at home.

This item is among the most convenient coffee filter substitutes I’ve tried. It even works well in preventing coffee grounds from passing through.

What I find good about using reusable tea bags because the steeping process produces a strong flavoured coffee.

But if you are not a fan of strong coffee, you can always cut the steeping process short.

Final Thoughts

According to an online study posted by the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, filtering coffee is the healthiest way of brewing it.

So, if you run out of paper filters at home, you can always grab one of the mentioned coffee filter substitutes to prepare a healthy cup.

Apart from being a healthy brewing method, filtered coffee is also good enough and often flavourful and smooth — a great way to kickstart your morning.