How to make coffee without using a coffee filter? (6 methods)


There are times when we have to get a bit creative and figure out a way to make a cup of Joe without having any equipment.

If you’re wondering how to make delicious coffee without using a filter, either on the stove or in your drip maker, this post will definitely help you out.

Here you can see an overview chart of all of the methods and filter substitutes I describe (if you’re in a hurry click the method that meets your current needs and resolves your filter struggles):

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Method: Coffee Filter Substitute: Equipment:
1. Full Immersion (French Press style without a plunger) cheesecloth / kitchen dish towel / sock No coffee maker needed; pot and stove to heat up water;
2. Cold Brew kitchen dish towel / cheesecloth / sock No coffee maker
3. Drip Coffee paper towel Drip Coffee Maker
4. Turkish coffee no filters needed no coffee maker needed; brewed in a pot on the stove
5. Instant coffee powder no coffee filters needed without the need of a coffee maker; have to heat up some water
6. Coffee brewed with a sock sock no coffee maker needed;

I made sure to include the best ways to brew a cup when you’re out of filtering papers or you have no coffee maker whatsoever. I don’t know if you’re aware, but instant coffee powder isn’t the only solution.

For those who have run out of coffee filters, I made sure to include some accessible substitutes that you can use as improvised alternatives.

So let’s get started.

How to prepare coffee without a filter?

There are ways to make coffee without additional equipment, just by heating some water on the stove and mixing it with the ground beans.

I made sure to only include beginner-friendly brewing techniques that I’ve tested and work perfectly fine.

To make coffee without having a coffee filter you can use the following methods.

1. Full Immersion method – no paper filter required

This full immersion method is a great way to make coffee if you have no paper filters or a coffee maker.

All you need is a stove or an electric kettle to heat up some water, and a kitchen towel or cheesecloth.

Here’s how you can make coffee without using a coffee filter through this full immersion technique:

  1. Place a pot of water on the stove or heat it in your electric kettle.
  2. Turn off the heat source when the water starts boiling and let it sit.
  3. Pour 2 heaping tablespoons of medium to coarsely ground coffee into a brewing vessel of choice.
  4. Pour 6 to 8 fl. oz. (170 ml. to 240 ml.) of the heated water on top of your ground beans.
  5. Stir the mixture and let it sit for 4 minutes.
  6. Place a kitchen towel or a piece of double-layered cheesecloth on top of your cup.
  7. Pour the mixture of coffee and water in your cup. The towel/cloth will filter the grounds and your cup will be filled with delicious coffee.
  8. Remove the paper filter substitute, rinse it and enjoy your coffee.

I find it pretty easy to use my glass measuring cup as a brewing vessel, so if you don’t have one, I recommend using Pyrex (you can check out the Pyrex measuring cup set on Amazon by clicking this link).

Anyway, I suggest beginning the brewing process by boiling the water first because it needs 40 seconds to cool off before you add it to the ground beans. If you pour it boiling in the vessel where the ground coffee is, this might ruin the flavor.

If you don’t have cheesecloth, you can use a clean kitchen dish towel (or even a sock) instead of a coffee filter. There will be a bit more sediment left in your cup if you use the latter as you can see on the following photo:

Nevertheless, if you’re out of coffee filters, they both are great alternatives. This is also a perfect way to make French-press-style coffee without actually owning a French press.

Related Post: Best Improvised Coffee Filter Alternatives

2. Cold Brew Coffee – without the need of coffee filters and a maker

This cold brew recipe is perfect for those who want to make a cup of iced coffee without a coffee machine and when out of filters.

It requires the use of a filtering alternative such as a towel or a piece of double-layered cheesecloth.

If you want to check out a detailed guide on how to make cold brew coffee in a mason jar, check out this post.

To make iced coffee without a coffee maker or a filter, you should:

  1. Add 2.9 oz. or 83 grams of ground coffee to a jar.
  2. Add 16 fl. oz. of water or 500 milliliters. This is a 1:6 coffee-to-water ratio which results in a strong and rich cold brew concentrate.

    Brewing ratios are in grams, not volume, but if you don’t have a coffee scale, you can still follow the 1:6 rule. For example, for every cup of ground coffee, add 6 cups of water. It’s much better to be precise and weigh the ground beans with a scale, but I understand that you might not have one.

  3. Stir the mixture with a spoon.
  4. Seal the jar and let it sit for 7 to 12 hours in the fridge. I used to steep my cold brew coffee for longer, but I found that you don’t really need to steep the coffee grounds for 24 hours to make great cold brew.
  5. Place a kitchen towel or a piece of double-layered cheesecloth on top of the vessel into which you’ll pour your cold brew coffee.
  6. Pour your coffee into the vessel. The towel/cloth will serve as a filtering unit and will separate the grounds from the extracted coffee.
  7. Add ice cubes to your cup and pour your cold brew coffee over them.
  8. Dilute the cold brew concentrate with water or milk. You can either make a 1:1 concentrate-to-water mix, or 1:2 if you want it less concentrated.

The rest of your cold brew can be kept in your fridge and it can be used for up to 10 even 14 days after it’s been made.

Related Post: How long can coffee be left to sit out

You should also be aware that you need to use a medium to coarse grind.

You can check my guide on the best coffees for cold brew where you can find some pre-ground coffee recommendations for this brewing method.

Cold brew concentrate can also be diluted with hot water, which will result in a warm and tasty cup of Joe.

Related Post:Hot Cold Brew Coffee.

Better results are achieved through the use of cheesecloth, but if you don’t have any, you can count on a clean kitchen towel or a sock.

This is definitely one of the best ways to make coffee without using a coffee maker. And most importantly – no paper filters are required.

3. Drip coffee maker – when you’re out of filters


Some of you may be in search of an emergency filter alternative that can be used in place of your regular drip paper filters.

There is, in fact, an improvised solution that you can easily take advantage of.

Here’s whether using paper towels in place of your drip maker’s coffee filters is a good idea:

If you have a drip coffee maker, but you’re out of filters, it’s ok to use a paper towel. By opting for this substitute, you won’t damage your maker and you’ll get to have your pot filled with coffee as usual. Just fold a piece of paper towel to a size that fits your machine.

On the following illustration you can see how you can fold the paper towel to size and place it in your drip maker instead of using regular coffee filters:

After your coffee pot is filled with hot coffee, it’s easy to remove the paper towel along with the soaked ground beans like so:

This improvised filtering substitute is perfect for those who want to use their drip coffee makers when out of filters.

4. Turkish Coffee – on the stove, without filters

The Turkish coffee is made on the stove without the use of filters.

To prepare it, you need a pot, finely ground coffee, water, and sugar (optional). This method is for those who like their coffee with a bold taste.

Here’s how to make Turkish coffee on the stove:

  1. Pour 1 heaped teaspoon of finely ground coffee into the pot for each cup (if you brew 2 cups you have to add 2 heaped teaspoons).
  2. Add 1 teaspoon of sugar (again, 2 tsp if you are about to brew 2 cups).
  3. Pour 2 fluid ounces of water in the pot (Turkish coffee is served in tiny demitasse cups, 2 fl. oz., 60 milliliters each).
  4. Stir the mixture and place on the stove.
  5. Turn heat on a low to medium setting. Wait until some foam forms on the surface.
  6. Take a spoon, remove the foam from the surface and add it to your cup.
  7. When the coffee starts boiling, turn off the heat source, take the pot, and slowly pour the coffee into your cup.
  8. Wait a bit for the coffee particles to sink to the bottom. After that, you can enjoy your Turkish cup.

The last step is quite important. It’s essential not to stir your cup of Turkish coffee and let it sit so that the fine grounds rest on the bottom of the cup.

Another thing that’s worth noting is that you need extra fine coffee grind for this brewing method.

Here in the following picture, you can see how fine the beans should be ground:

Overall, this is one of the best ways to make coffee without a filter or a coffee maker, but it’s not that common in the US or in Western Europe. Turkish coffee is really rich and flavorful, but many people find its taste to be harsh and unpleasant.

5. Instant Coffee Powder – without using a coffee maker or filters

Using instant coffee powder is the easiest option when it comes to making a cup of Joe without the use of any paper filters or coffee makers whatsoever.

The rule of thumb is that you have to add a teaspoon of coffee powder for each cup of coffee, but you can add more or less, according to your taste.

I recommend heating your water until it boils, turning off the heat and waiting about 40 seconds for the water to cool down a bit.

If you add it to the powder boiling, it might worsen the overall taste.

With coffee powder you can also make quite cool coffee drinks such as the Greek frappe, or the whipped Dalgona coffee:

Nevertheless, it’s always better to make your coffee with freshly ground beans instead of instant coffee when possible, as the difference in the taste and overall coffee experience is tremendous (in favor of the former).

Brewing with a Sock

Undoubtedly, you can use a sock to make a cup of coffee if you don’t have any coffee filters.

It does a good job of keeping coffee sediment away from your cup.

You can employ it as a filtering barrier between the grounds and your coffee in the aforementioned methods.

Nevertheless, if you’re still wondering how to use a sock as a coffee filter substitute do the following:

  1. Boil some water.
  2. Pour the hot water into the sock in the sink to rinse it.
  3. Attach the sock to your cup and pour the coffee grounds in it.
  4. Slowly pour hot water over the ground beans. They will get extracted and coffee will enter your cup.
  5. Remove the sock and enjoy your coffee.

You can play around with the coffee-to-water ratio and adjust it to your taste in case you feel like this method produces too strong or too weak of a flavor.

You can also leave the sock along with the grounds in your cup for a minute or two before removing it. This will extend the duration of the extraction process and enhance the coffee taste and the strength of your drink.

If you use a sock that has been washed with a strongly scented detergent, this might ruin your coffee’s taste. So make sure you pick one that doesn’t smell like a bunch of flowers.

Rinsing this filter substitute with hot water before putting it to use will prevent a negative outcome as well.

With that being said, a sock is one of the most convenient filter replacements when preparing coffee without a coffee maker.

Final Words

As you can see you can make a cup of Joe without having equipment such as coffee filters.

Even a coffee making device isn’t a must-have.

You just need to heat up some water on the stove and eventually use one of the aforementioned filter substitutes, such as a paper towel or a cotton one.

Drop me a comment below to ask me a question or share which method meets your current needs best.

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