The 5 Best Coffee Filter Substitutes

If like most Brazilians, who really know and love their coffee, you also make your morning coffee brew with a filter, you might have also run out of filters at some point, or wondered whether the filters you are using are environmentally friendly. The Aquaspresso team has spent some time thinking about your predicament, coming up with five of the best coffee filter substitutes you can try instead. These aren’t necessarily all 100% practical for all situations, but can do the job if you’re in a bind or looking to explore other ways of making coffee.

Can you use a cheesecloth as a coffee filter?

If you don’t have any filters at home, you can definitely use a cheesecloth as a coffee filter. All you need to do is to cut a piece that matches the size of traditional filters, fold it over once or twice, and you’re set. Cheesecloth is made from a type of cotton that has been woven very loosely. It will allow you to filter out coffee grounds, and the liquid should pass through relatively easily. 

Can you use a paper towel as a coffee filter?

Yes, you can use a paper towel as a coffee filter. It is one of the more common alternatives that people try when they don’t have other options. Keep in mind they aren’t designed to be used for this purpose, but they can offer a similar effect. They may also be made with harsh chemicals, so it’s not a good idea to use them in the long run. Brown and unbleached paper towels are probably best if you really want to use them time and time again. 

A coffee filter stack that is ready for use at home

Can you use a dish towel as a coffee filter?

The short answer is yes, as long as it isn’t one that you’ve grabbed from the dish rack. A clean dish towel can do the job (in an eco-friendly manner, we might add), although you should note that the coffee will probably end up staining the towel. It’s best not to use one that grandma gave you as part of a wedding set. Dish towels are also very absorbent, so you might want to make your brew a little stronger than usual. 

Can you use socks as a coffee filter?

This is one of the ideas that are less explored by people in a bind. The truth is that you can use a sock as a coffee filter, and it can be fairly useful. A traditional cotton sock can be ideal as a result of the way it is woven. The most important thing to remember is to use a clean sock (don’t be tempted to grab one out of the wash) and to give it a good wash right after. 

Can you use tea bags as a coffee filter?

If you’re an avid tea drinker, you might have some reusable tea bags at home. It might be a little out of the box, but it’s one of the best alternatives you can use. The key is to use a small amount of coffee, and to steep it for no longer than a few minutes. It might take some trial and error, but at the end of the day it will still give you the desired result, and you’re off to go and start another new day.