One of the common misconceptions is that coffee is supposed to be filtered for it to taste good. What’s surprising is to realize that unfiltered coffee is actually ubiquitous; it is something we see and consume in our days. It’s just something that is not commonly presented as unfiltered coffee.

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Why Would You Brew Coffee Without a Filter

Other than the obvious circumstance that you might one day run out of coffee filters, there are also some good points in brewing your coffee unfiltered. One of the most common reasons was unfiltered coffee is, you guessed it, more concentrated. Meaning it tends to be stronger and has a thicker body and zest in it than some people were looking for. These are for the people who wanted to taste the world’s best Cuban coffee to the next level, for example, or for someone who needs it in extra strength for they believe that coffee is the most effective waking up solution on any demanding day.  

Benefits of Brewing Coffee Without a Filter

Health Benefits

Filtered or not, coffee brewed in an unfiltered way gives almost the same health benefits as brewing a fresh “Cup of Joe.” And since, in general, coffee contains a higher caffeine amount per cup than green tea, unfiltered ones have the same amount of caffeine too. Caffeine improves your cognitive performance and burns fat, aids in Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s as well as diabetes.


Unfiltered coffee had a reputation of having a stronger and thicker body. It is something that most coffee lovers love and has a distinct taste that can’t be achieved easily with filtered coffee.

Reduces Inflammation 

Due to its unfiltered nature, the coffee had additional components such as cafestol and kahweol. Its special quality is that it helps in reducing inflammation. These two diterpenes also help with cancer prevention by blocking carcinogen activation and liver detoxification. 

How Does Brewing Coffee Without a Filter Work

How Does Brewing Coffee Without a Filter Work

Brewing coffee without a filter is just as it was defined. You can use any coffee brewing equipment, but remove a paper filter in the process resulting in some components being present in the product, such as oily substances. These oily substances are known as diterpenes and are said to help the brew taste better!  

Pros and Cons of Brewing Coffee Without a Filter


  • It tastes fantastic. It is known to taste rich, bold, and strong. Something that you would love to store in your premium coffee thermos.
  • Environmental friendly. Imagine skipping all those coffee filter waste and, if you are using a recyclable one, conservation of water.
  • Good for combining with other beverages. It is good to pair with other syrups due to their strong coffee concentration; hence, you can make other coffee beverage varieties. This can develop as a form of a hobby like making iced mocha at home or business. I believe latte and macchiato are popular espresso-based drinks nowadays.
  • It is healthy. You can enjoy a series of health benefits just like any normal coffee. In addition to that, due to its diterpenes, the additional perk reduces inflammation.


  • Messy cleaning. This due to the fact that no filter will keep all the coffee grounds together in one area.
  • Diterpenes. Despite having good qualities, it can also be bad for you if taken in large amounts. It can increase your bad cholesterol hence deemed to be bad for your heart.
  • High chances of increasing your sugar level. Due to the nature that it is good to be paired with other sugars and cream, the chances of increasing your sugar level are also plausible.  So even if Americano has a stronger flavor than a latte, it is healthier to opt for that instead, even if we say they have the same coffee amount.  

Methods of Brewing Coffee Without a Filter

Brew a Cowboy Coffee

This is basically brewing using a certain amount of boiling water to your finely ground coffee. It is a traditional brewing where coffee grounds were added and stirred for a few minutes to the boiled water and settled down before consumption. Easy, simple, and delicious!

Have you ever made cowboy coffee? Not only is it an effortless coffee filter substitute, but tastes really good if made well! You don’t need any special gadgets. Use 2 tablespoons of finely ground coffee per 8 ounces of water. Add water to a pot and bring it to a boil.

Tea Towels

It is easy to use kitchen materials as a substitute for coffee filters. This method implies using a clean towel as a pseudo filter of which coffee was being placed and water poured over until it drips and produces an ample amount. It is environmentally friendly but a bit messy if not executed perfectly.

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Paper Towels and Napkins

Considered as one of the more controversial methods, for it needs a specific type of paper napkins (without chemicals) and not foul proof (potentially can get too wet and breaks), this is technically just paper folding to form a small pouch that will keep the ground beans during the brewing process.

Coffee Filter Substitue - Paper Towels and Napkins


Slightly unhygienic, in my opinion, but apparently one of the oldest methods. It is almost the same with the tea towels, only that the coffee grounds are put inside the sock; hence, it is more manageable.

Fine Mesh Sieves

Another kitchen material! If you are into baking or cooking, I’m pretty sure you have this in your kitchen. Contrary to the other methods, you need to be steeped first and then filtered using the mesh to another cup after stirring and leaving it be for 5 minutes.


Easily one of the most versatile fabrics that can be used for filtering. Use the same method with tea towels and socks, but ensure the cloth is folded multiple times to make sure the coffee is properly filtered!


Another alternative is socks, tea towels; cheesecloth is not available. Make sure it was cut in squares or folded into a small pouch.

Old T-Shirt

If you are too disturbed by the idea of using socks, you can use a clean shirt as a substitute!

Wire Mesh Filter

Suppose you are more into making your own materials for your coffee experience. The wire mesh filter is a good choice since it is washable hence reusable and will do its job of filtering your coffee well. It is environmentally friendly and very easily shaped hence easier to use. 

Reusable Cloth Filter

It is almost the same type as the wire mesh only because it is a piece of fabric rather than a wire. However, this one is also harder to clean.

Used Paper Filter

Done by simply cleaning out your used paper filter and drying it out. Paper filters can be recycled at least two times before putting them into your compost!

Reusable Tea Bags

Coffee Filter Substitute - Reusable Tea Bags

This works by reusing your tea bags, cleaning them, and stuffing them with coffee grounds. Brew your coffee almost like how you steep your tea and remember the longer it stays in your cup, the stronger it will taste! It won’t be the same as brewing coffee with a fully automatic espresso machine, but you will still grow to love it.

Filter-Free Brewing Methods

French Press

A French press uses a solid metal filter that is within its plunger. It works by steeping your coffee grounds first with water for a few minutes and pushing your plunger in a downward motion to force your suspended coffee grounds to settle, which filters them at the same time. 


It is a brewing method that uses boiling coffee grounds continuously to extract your coffee. This method is usually frowned upon by most coffee lovers due to the lack of respect for the coffee beans’ quality, for percolator tends to overcook the beans, leading to over-extraction.

Moka Pot

Moka pot is often compared to an espresso machine. It uses the steam of boiling water and pressure to pass through a set of coffee grounds to brew your coffee. It is known to have a strong taste and thick texture.

How to Brew Coffee Without a Filter

Full Immersion Method

Step 1 – Put the pot on the stove

Prepare a kettle or a pan and your stove.

Step 2 – Boil

Bring them to a boil. Turn it off and let it sit for a moment.

Step 3 – Add coffee

On a separate vessel, put your desired amount of ground coffee and pour over your heated water.

Step 4 – Wait

Stir and let your coffee be extracted for a few minutes.

Step 5 – Improvise a filter

Either use a cloth or mesh to filter your coffee or let it settle at the bottom and decant them. Enjoy your coffee!


Steeping Method or Cold Brew

Step 1 – Get ready for brewing

Prepare a cold brew bottle or a piece of clothing and make a small pouch for the coffee grounds to be stored with.

Step 2 – Steep your coffee grounds

Place the coffee grounds on the pouch or mesh filter and submerge them in the water. (It can be cold or hot)

Step 3 – Wait

Let it be steeped for a few minutes if you want it warm, or for 14 hrs and above if you prefer it cold brewed.

Step 4 – Remove the filter

Remove the pouch or remove coffee grounds from the mesh filter.  

Do’s and Don’ts With Coffee Filter Substitutes


  • Do make sure that the paper tower used as your substitute is chemicals-free.
  • Do watch your caffeine intake and know your health better.


  • Don’t use dirty socks or clothing for filtering the coffee!
  • Don’t overconsume unfiltered coffee!

FAQ About Coffee Filter Substitutes

What materials can I use to make DIY coffee filters?

There are a lot of DIY items that you can use for coffee filters. The most common ones are usually found in your house! Some examples are paper towels, cheesecloth, handkerchiefs, old shirts, socks, wire mesh filters, cloth filters, reusable tea bags, and used paper filters.

Are permanent filters better than reusable?

I would say there is a balance between these two. Permanent filters are known for their durability, so if you are meticulous and good at maintenance, that would be better for you. However, if you are more inclined to have insurance and opt for something that is still environmentally friendly but won’t get you into trouble once ruined since it is available to many places, you should pick reusable. 

FAQ About Coffee Filter Substitutes

Can you use cupcake liners for coffee filters?

I don’t think so! An important point of filters is that they are supposed to be perforated and easily passed through by liquids. Cupcake liners are made to ensure liquid won’t leak so that the cupcakes will be perfect; hence, it doesn’t have the quality of a filter at all.

Are coffee filters washable?

There are two kinds of coffee filters, metal filters and paper filters and they are both washable. However, paper coffee filters should only be used twice, and if you wash them, you need to dry them.

Can I use tissue paper as a coffee filter?

Yes, you can! Just fold them enough in a way that it won’t break but will let the liquid drip or pass through at the same time.


Brewing coffee without a coffee filter is not an impossible feat. They are the types of brewing methods that we had already been using and undoubtedly would still use repeatedly due to how easy it is to do. Substitutes for coffee filters are also readily available in our homes. So the next time we do run out of them, I say don’t panic and get creative. Just be sure that you are taking note of your unfiltered coffee consumption and guard your cholesterol level because, in the end, health should always be your priority.

Photos from: tab62 /, kittimages /, FancyStudio /, gorvik / and Andrelix /

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