Here’s How to Make Coffee Without A Filter

Opening a kitchen closet only to find no paper filters triggers a unique kind of melancholy. You really want coffee but don’t know how to make any without this tool. We’ve all been there. 

Luckily for you, we searched the internet for a solution when this happened and have created a carefully curated list of 10 ways you can still get your cup of joe. 

Here are 10 ways to make coffee without a filter:

  1. Brew in a coffee percolator
  2. Cold-brew
  3. French press
  4. Full immersion method
  5. Handkerchief to replace filters in the pour-over brewing technique
  6. Instant coffee powder
  7. Nut milk bag to replace the filter in cold-brew coffee
  8. Paper towel in drip coffee makers
  9. Turkish coffee
  10. Use a sock to replace filters in the pour-over brewing technique

Keep reading for a detailed explanation of each of these techniques. These are tried and tested coffee-making methods and are bound to help you get a great cup of coffee. 

10 Great Ways to Make Coffee Without A Filter

1. Brew in A coffee percolator

  • What you need
    • Percolator 
    • Freshly ground coffee beans (medium-coarse is ideal)
    • Water
    • Coffee cups 
  • How to (electric percolator)
    • Fill the percolator’s reservoir with cold water.
    • Add coffee ground to the basket above the reservoir. 
    • Turn your percolator on – adjust the settings on your machine according to how strong you want your coffee.
    • Wait for the percolating period to end. 
    • Open the lid when the machine prompts you to do so. 
    • Use a towel or kitchen gloves to remove the basket with the coffee beans.
    • Pour out your coffee.
  • How to (stovetop percolator)
    • Fill the percolator’s reservoir with cold water.
    • Add coffee ground to the basket above the reservoir. 
    • Place the lid on your coffee maker and put it on a stove on medium heat.
    • Bring the water to a boil, then turn the heat down to maintain a constant percolating temperature. 
    • Set a 5 to 10 minutes timer depending on how strong you want your coffee.
  • The longer you brew, the stronger your coffee will be.
  • Turn the stove off about a minute before your timer runs out.
  • Use a towel or kitchen gloves to remove the basket with the coffee beans.
  • Pour out your coffee.

You can get a stovetop or electric percolator. The latter is easier to use since the machine’s percolating time and temperature are pre-configured. 

Stovetop percolators were the coffee makers of choice before electric drip makers were created in the 1970s. This coffee machine doesn’t require filters and will also produce a beautiful brew. However, it is time-consuming.

For instance, if you don’t pay close attention to your percolator and leave it unattended, there’s a good chance you’ll burn the coffee beans and end up with a bitter brew. 

2. Cold-Brew

  • What you need
    • Towel or double-layer cheesecloth
  • How to
    • Add around 80 grams of coffee grounds to a jar. 
    • Pour 16 ounces of water.
    • Stir the mixture. 
    • Close the jar and place it in your fridge for at least 12 hours. 
    • Place a towel over the container you want your brew in. 
    • Pour the coffee mixture over the towel. 
    • Carefully pick up the towel with residual coffee beans. 
    • Place ice cubes in a glass or cup and pour the brew over them.
    • Dilute the drink with water or milk.

Keep in mind that the brew you’re making will be super concentrated. Unless you adore bitter drinks or are only drinking the coffee for its caffeine, you won’t be able to drink the brew directly. You will need to dilute it. 

There are 2 ways to dilute the brew: water or milk. There’s no obvious preference among them. Make your decision based on the flavor you like better. 

You can use hot or cold water depending on what kind of coffee you feel like having. Your choice won’t impact flavor extraction because you’ve already removed the ground coffee beans. 

It won’t impact the flavor much, either. It only impacts the temperature. 

3. French Press

  • What you need
    • French press 
    • Coffee cups
    • Ground coffee beans
    • Water 
  • How to
    • Heat the water till it reaches boiling point.
    • Pour a small portion of the boiling water into your french press. 
    • Move your french press a bit, so the water heats it from every side.
    • Measure the ground coffee (around 4 tbsp or 20 grams per 12 ounces of water is the generally accepted ratio for a french press).
    • Place the ground coffee into the press pot and pour the rest of the hot water over it.
    • Cover the beaker and let the coffee beans sit for around 5 minutes.
    • The covers on fresh presses come with a plunger, so yours should have one too. Push it down.
    • Take the lid off and decant your coffee.

4. Full Immersion Method

  • What you need
    • Stove and kettle or electric kettle 
    • Kitchen towel
  • How to
    • Heat water on the stove or in the electric kettle. 
    • Stop heating the water once it begins boiling.
    • Place 2 tablespoons of medium-coarse coffee grounds in a jug or jar. 
    • Pour around 8 ounces of water into the cup and stir.
    • Let the mixture sit for 5 minutes.
    • Place a kitchen towel over a cup (secure it with a rubber band if necessary).
    • Pour the coffee mixture over the towel.
    • Carefully pick up the towel with residual coffee beans.

We recommend starting by boiling the water instead of preparing the coffee beans in your cup because it gives the water time to cool off. 

You shouldn’t pour super hot water onto coffee beans. That will burn them and lead to a bitter brew. 

5. Handkerchief to Replace Filters in the Pour-Over Brewing Technique

  • What you need
    • A handkerchief
    • Medium-fine coffee grounds
    • Kettle
  • How to
    • Boil water and set it aside to cool down a little.
    • Place the handkerchief on top of your mug. 
    • Secure it with clamps or a rubber band. 
    • Fill the top of the handkerchief with coffee beans.
    • Pour a bit of hot water over the beans. 
    • Wait for the bubbling to subside.
    • Pour over the rest of the water.
    • Remove the handkerchief once the water has soaked through the sock into the cup.

6. Instant Coffee Powder

Instant coffee is one of the most popular ways to make coffee without a filter on this list. It is simple and easy to get the hang of. 

Use one tsp of coffee per cup of coffee. 

  • How to
    • Heat water until it boils.
    • Leave the water to cool for around 30 seconds to 1 minute. 
    • Add the coffee to a cup and pour water over it.
    • Stir till the coffee dissolves completely into the water.

7. Nut Milk Bag to Replace the Filter in Cold-Brew Coffee

  • What you need
    • A nut milk bag
    • Cold-brew blend (scroll up to ‘cold-brew’ for a guide on making this)
  • How to
    • Fit the nut milk bag into your cup – the closed end first.
    • Secure it by folding the opened end over the sides of your cup 
    • Pour the blend over the makeshift filter. 
    • Remove it carefully.
    • Dilute the brew in your cup with water or milk.

Nut milk bags are an excellent alternative to filters. However, they aren’t heat resistant, so you have to be careful about where you use them. 

8. Paper Towel in Drip Coffee Makers

If you’re out of filters but have a drip coffee maker, you can use a paper towel. 

Fold the towel to the size of your regular filters and place it in the machine. Run through the brewing process as you normally would. This will not damage your coffee maker in any way. 

Ensure that the paper towel filter is thick enough that it doesn’t tear after getting wet. An easy way to do this is by simply using thick paper towels. Alternatively, you can layer thinner towels to get a thick towel. 

9. Turkish Coffee

  • What you need
    • Cooking pot
    • Finely ground coffee beans (1 heaped tsp per cup)
    • Sugar (optional)
  • How to
    • Add coffee and sugar to a pot or mixing bowl and stir.
    • Put the mixture in a pan and pour water over it.
    • Turn the heat on to a medium flame. 
    • You’ll notice foam forming at the top – scoop it out with a spoon and add it to your cup.
    • Turn the heat off once you notice the water boiling. 
    • Wait for coffee bean residue to settle to the bottom of the pot. 
    • Slowly pour out your brew into a cup so the residue doesn’t come out as well.

This coffee has a bitter and harsh taste. But that’s why people drink it. Since the coffee industry in the US and Western Europe primarily focuses on reducing the bitterness of coffee or covering up the bitterness with flavorings like sugar and honey, it isn’t super popular there. 

While Turkish coffee is an acquired taste, it is one of the best ways to make coffee without a filter. It is rich and has a bold flavor. 

10. Use A Sock to Replace Filters in the Pour-Over Brewing Technique

  • What you need
    • A sock
    • Medium-fine coffee grounds
  • How to
    • Boil water and pour it over the sock to rinse it.
    • Fit the sock into your cup – the closed end first.
    • Secure it by folding the opened end over the sides of your cup.
    • Add coffee beans to the sock. 
    • Pour hot water over the beans.
    • Remove the sock once the water has soaked through the sock into the cup.

The recommended grind for this coffee brewing technique is medium-fine. However, you can go with whatever grind you like. The finer the grind, the stronger your coffee will be.

If you don’t want to change your grind but want your coffee to be stronger, consider using a spoon to press down on the damp grounds to extract extra flavor from them. 

FAQ Section

Can You Make Coffee Without A Filter?

Yes, a filter is meant to retain coffee residue and only let liquid pass through. There are several other items like socks, paper towels, and empty tea bags that can do the same thing. 

How Do You Make Coffee Without A Filter at Home?

You can replace filters with items like handkerchiefs or socks to make pour-over brews. 

Alternatively, you can use coffee makers like percolators or the french press, which don’t need a filter. You can also use instant coffee, which is super simple to make and doesn’t require a filter. 

What Can You Use in Place of A Coffee Filter?

Here are 6 creative alternatives to coffee filters:

  1. Cheesecloth 
  2. Paper towel 
  3. Napkin 
  4. Tights
  5. Empty reusable tea bag 
  6. Socks

Is it Bad to Use Paper Towels as Coffee Filters?

No, it is okay to use paper towels as coffee filters. 

Make sure the towels are clean and don’t have residual chemicals on them. Countless people use paper towels instead of filters. As long as you’re only doing this as a one-off and not as a regular thing, you will be fine.

Can I Use Cupcake Liners Instead of Coffee Filters?

No, you can not use cupcake liners for coffee filters. They are made from a non-porous material which means your coffee will not be able to move through it into your cup. It will stay in the cupcake liner along with the residual coffee beans. 

Why Do You Need A Coffee Filter?

Coffee filters separate coffee grounds from the coffee liquid. When you’re using medium-coarse or even medium-fine coffee grounds, you should use a filter. Having these grounds come in your mouth ruins the coffee drinking experience. 

Photo of author


Jeff Stone
Jeff is a coffee aficionado. He loves a couple cups of joe first thing in the morning. He like trying out new grounds and gear and then writes about it here. When he is not sipping java, he is usually writing it for his clients as a software engineer.

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