Top 5 Best Coffee Filter Substitutes For You To Try Out

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If you’re running out of options and you need a coffee filter substitute to save the day. Then let me tell you that it’s not such a big deal to use any one of these coffee filter substitutes. While paper the best option for a coffee filter, you can always rely on other equally effective options.

Such as a fine-mesh sieve, a paper towel, tea bags, or a clean dishtowel. Plenty of options to try out before you completely give up. All these coffee filter substitutes you didn’t know you already have at home.

So before you get up from your chair and rush to your kitchen, read about the various best coffee filter substitutes and how to use them properly.

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5 Coffee Filter Substitutes

1. Fine-Mesh Sieve

A fine-mesh sieve is the most staple kitchen accessory. Even if you don’t bake very often, you definitely have one of these lying around somewhere. And now is the right time to take it out and use it.

A fine-mesh sieve is made of stainless steel. And it can act as a very effective coffee filter as a substitute.

In fact, if you didn’t already know, using a fine-mesh sieve is a recent, modern coffee brewing technique. You have to grind the beans coarser so that they do not pass the sieve during extraction.

With a fine-mesh sieve, you can produce rich, flavorful coffee. The only drawback to using a sieve is that you may have to filter the coffee 2-3 times to get rid of the residue grounds completely.

Fine mesh sieve is also the most eco-friendly and reusable coffee filter substitute. It’s not like paper filters, they are easy to wash and reuse. And you can easily pour hot coffee concoction through it.

2. Paper Towel

A paper towel is probably more common to have in a house than a fine-mesh sieve. And even if you’re out, I’m you can fetch a roll of paper towels from your nearest grocery store.

Even though a paper towel is not designed for coffee filtration, you can use it as a coffee filter.

Make sure you buy eco-friendly and chemical-free paper towels. These are the unbleached and brown ones that do not contain any chemicals that may ruin the flavor of your coffee. And these chemicals are also bad for your health.

If you have a thin, single, or double-ply paper towel, you may have to place two layers on the filter before pouring the coffee through it. Or else the paper towel will weaken and tear easily.

Paper towels are more effective than a fine-mesh sieve because they filter out the tiniest of grounds easily. And you don’t have to pour the filtered coffee again through a new set of paper towels to get rid of residue. Once is more than enough.

3. Cloth, Dish Napkin

A cloth napkin acts as a fine-mesh sieve and a paper towel combined. You can use it as a coffee filter in a pour-over coffee maker or an automatic drip basket.

It’s easier to use and clean. Unless you mind the coffee stains on your cloth napkin. But you can easily clean that out in a washing machine or by a gentle scrub with soap.

Here’s how you can use it without any other coffee brewing equipment. Cover the mouth of the cup with the napkin. And place a rubber band to secure it over the mug so that the coffee doesn’t spill out. This should create a bowl over the mouth of the cup like a seal.

You can also use the cloth napkin as a pour-over coffee filter. Put 2-3 tablespoons of coffee grounds in it. Pour over the coffee grounds hot, but not boiling hot water. The water will automatically pass through the napkin leaving the coffee grounds behind.

A cloth napkin is so good that there are many brands that make cloth coffee filters too. It is a sustainable and efficient choice.

4. Tea Bags

Teabags come closest to mimicking the effects of a coffee filter. If a tea bag can filter out tea leaves easily, you can use it as an effective coffee filter substitute. In fact, single-serve coffee pods and bags are made up of the same material as teabags.

Empty out a teabag, using a reusable tea bag will things easier and faster. But you can use a standard tea bag and refill it with coffee grounds for a single-use.

Fill the tea bag with 1-2 tablespoons of coffee grounds. Seal the bag and place it in a cup of hot water. With a teabag, wait for 3-5 minutes and take out the “coffee” tea bag and you have freshly-brewed coffee in your cup.

5. Cheesecloth

Cheesecloth is a unique and versatile fabric to use as a coffee filter. It is used for many cooking tasks as well like straining liquids, making cheese or curd, and thinning creamy bases.

And if you do have cheesecloth at home, you can put it to good use by making delicious coffee from it.

Add medium-coarse coffee grounds into the cheesecloth. Make sure you use a sizable piece of cheesecloth to avoid spills. Place the cheesecloth, just like a pour-over, on a cup or jug.

Adjust the amount of coffee you use per cup and pour hot water over the grounds. Make sure you pour the water slowly to allow the coffee grounds to bloom and seep. The coffee will filter out of the cheesecloth into your cup.

You can throw out the cheesecloth right away. And save some more for future use. It’s easy, fun, and very effective to use.


Finding a suitable coffee brewing method with what you already have at home is easy and fun. And if you’re a coffee enthusiast, you can always experiment with new coffee filter alternatives.

These options are the best coffee filter substitutes ever. And I hope that after reading this article, you can find plenty of new ways to brew coffee without a coffee filter.

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