4 Easy Ways to Make Pour-Over Coffee Without a Filter

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We’ve all been there. You open your cabinet to grab a coffee filter and realize you forgot to pick some up at the grocery store. Now what? Well, you’re in luck. In this blog post, I’ll walk you through the 4 different methods you can use to make an emergency coffee filter from scratch.

Coffee Filter Hacks: 4 Easy Methods That Will Blow Your Mind!

Crafting Your Own Coffee Filter: A Four-Method Guide

Here are four ways to use the pour-over method to make a cup of coffee right in your mug. These methods haven’t been tested in a coffee machine, so it’s best to stick to manual brewing with these steps.

1: Make a Coffee Filter out of Paper Towel

Here’s how to make a coffee filter out of paper towels. They’re a popular choice. Before you get started, make sure you have:

  • A single sheet of paper towel
  • A rubber band or string for securing
  • A coffee mug or mason jar to collect the brew
  • Ground coffee of your choice
  • Boiling hot water
How To Brew Coffee Using Paper Towel 2
Paper Towel Method

Follow these steps to make your own coffee filter out of paper towel:

  1. Fold your paper towel in half twice so that you have a square or rectangle larger than your mug opening.
  2. Place the paper towel on your mug and secure it with a rubber band or string.
  3. Make a deep indent in the center of the paper towel.
  4. Add ground coffee to the indent.
  5. Slowly pour boiling water over the coffee grounds, saturating them evenly.
  6. Once the coffee is brewed, remove the rubber band or string and lift the coffee filter off the mug.

πŸ’‘ Pro Tip: A little water seeping into the edges of your paper towel is normal. However, if you notice too much dripping, it’s a sign that you need a deeper indent in your coffee filter to ensure a cleaner brew.

How To Make Your Own Coffee Filter
A paper towel is the easiest DIY coffee filter

2: Create a Coffee Filter Using a Clean Dish Towel

A clean dish towel can easily be turned into a makeshift coffee filter. In fact, any small towel or cloth piece will do the trick. Just make sure it’s clean and can fit securely around the top of your mug or mason jar. This is one of my favorite coffee filter replacement hacks.

Required Items for Dish Towel Coffeeβ„’

  • A clean dish towel or rag
  • A rubber band or string for securing the towel
  • A coffee mug, cup, or mason jar to hold the brew
  • Ground coffee to your preference
  • Boiling hot water
Screenshot 2023 01 10 At 3.06.08 Pm
Screenshot 2023 01 10 At 3.07.06 Pm
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Brew Coffee with a Dish Towel in 3 Simple Steps:

  1. Secure a clean dish towel over your mug using a rubber band or string, creating a small indent for coffee grounds.
  2. Add your ground coffee and slowly pour boiling water over it, ensuring even saturation.
  3. Once brewed, remove the dish towel and rinse immediately to avoid staining.

πŸ’‘ Pro Tip: The fabric you choose for brewing can subtly influence the flavor of your coffee. Select a cloth that’s clean and neutral to ensure the purest taste.

3: Brew Your Coffee with a Fine Metal Strainer

A fine mesh sieve, aka strainer or sifter, is a great stand-in for a traditional coffee filter. If you don’t have one, they’re available on Amazon for about $10. Using a mesh sieve gives a taste closer to what a coffee machine produces, compared to a paper or dish towel.

What You’ll Need:

  • Fine mesh sieve (metal strainer)
  • A coffee mug or large glass bottle with a wide mouth
  • Your preferred ground coffee
  • Boiling hot water
Fine Mesh Sieve In A Mason Jar For Brewing Pour Over Coffee
How To Make Coffee With A Fine Mesh Sieve 4 1

How to Brew Coffee with a Metal Sieve:

  1. Place the metal sieve securely over your coffee mug, cup, or mason jar.
  2. Add your desired amount of coffee grounds into the sieve.
  3. Slowly pour hot water over the coffee grounds, ensuring they are evenly saturated.

✏️ Note: The strainer used in the images is a vintage find from an estate sale, but any fine metal strainer, like this one on Amazon, should work well.

πŸ’‘ Pro Tip: 9/10 times I’m left with some coffee ground “mud” in the bottom of my mug. But that’s a small trade-off for a good cup of coffee.

4: The Sock-as-a-Coffee-Filter Technique

When faced with the coffee-lover’s dilemma of missing filters and no clean dish towels in sight, fear not, for there’s yet another innovative solution awaitingβ€”employing a sock as your coffee filter. While it may come across as a quirky last resort, it’s a path well-tread by many in dire coffee needs, especially guys in their early 20s.

Essentials for this Brewing Method:

  • A clean sock
  • A coffee mug or mason jar for the brew
  • Your choice of ground coffee
  • Boiling hot water
How To Use A Sock As A Coffee Filter 1
How To Use A Sock As A Coffee Filter 2
How To Use A Sock As A Coffee Filter 3

Brew Coffee with a Sock in 5 Easy Steps:

  1. Secure a clean, thin sock over the rim of your mug or mason jar.
  2. Add the desired amount of coffee grounds into the sock.
  3. Slowly pour boiling water into the sock, covering the coffee grounds evenly.
  4. Let the coffee steep for about 4 minutes to achieve a good flavor extraction.
  5. Carefully remove the sock, and enjoy your innovative sock-brewed coffee.

πŸ’‘ Pro Tip: While using a sock as a coffee filter is hilarious, it may not match the quality yielded by a DIY paper towel coffee filter or the traditional methods. Nonetheless, it’s a fun, filter-free alternative to sate your coffee cravings.

Alternative Brewing Techniques Without a Coffee Filter

Ran out of coffee filters and not keen on the methods mentioned earlier? No worries! There are many more ways to brew a tasty cup of coffee without a filter. Here are three alternative options to explore:

1. Use a French Press:

  1. Measure your coffee grounds and place them in the French Press.
  2. Pour hot water over the grounds, ensuring an even soak, then steep for 4 minutes.
  3. Press down the plunger to separate the grounds, and enjoy a rich, flavorful cup of coffee.
French Press Edited

2. Make Cowboy Coffee

  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil, add your coffee grounds, then remove from heat and let it steep for a few minutes.
  2. Add a cup of ice-cold water which will force the coffee grounds to settle at the bottom.
  3. Carefully pour the brewed coffee into your mug, leaving the grounds behind. It’s a rustic and quick way to enjoy coffee.

3. Use The Metal Filter That Came With Your Machine

  1. If your coffee machine came with a gold-tone metal filter, use it as a sustainable alternative to paper filters.
  2. Gold-tone metal filters allow the coffee oils to pass through, enriching the flavor of your brew.
  3. If misplaced, replacements are available on Amazon, both for flat and cone-shaped baskets.
Gold Tone Metal Coffee Filters
Gold tone metal filters are reusable, allowing the flavorful coffee oils to enrich your brew.

4. Use A Moka Pot

  1. The Moka Pot is a stovetop coffee maker that offers a superb filter-free brewing method.
  2. Fill the bottom chamber with water, add ground coffee to the filter basket, then assemble and place on the stove until coffee bubbles from the spout.
  3. Perfect for camping or traveling due to its compact size, with Bialetti being a trusted brand. Their durable, well-crafted Moka pots are a my favorite, available on Amazon.
A Bialetti Moka Pot
A Bialetti-brand Moka Pot

Frequently Asked Questions

What else can I use in place of a coffee filter?

How To Make A Diy Coffee Filter

Common alternatives include paper towels, reusable tea bags, fine mesh sieves, clean dish towels, or reusable metal filters.

Can I use aluminum foil as a coffee filter?

Using Tinfoil To Make A Coffee Filter

Yes, you can shape aluminum foil with holes poked for filtration over your mug, though it may not filter as finely as a regular coffee filter.

Can I use toilet paper in place of a coffee filter?

No, toilet paper is too delicate and will disintegrate easily when wet, causing a mess.

Can I make a coffee filter out of a napkin?

No, you cannot make a coffee filter out of a napkin. While it may seem like a good idea, napkins are made of thin paper, same as toilet paper, which will quickly dissolve in hot water.

Do metal coffee filters work as well as paper?

Metal filters allow more oils through, resulting in a richer flavor, while paper filters catch more fines, resulting in a cleaner cup. Preference between the two can be subjective based on taste and texture desired.

Do coffee filters make good COVID masks?

No You Can'T Use A Coffee Filter As A Covid 19 Mask

coffee filters aren’t a good choice for COVID-19 masks. They’re too small, flimsy, and aren’t made to be worn on the face. It’s always best to use proper masks designed to help protect you from COVID-19.


To wrap things up, all the methods we’ve talked about use the pour-over technique. But guess what? There’s a simpler way! Just mix your coffee grounds with hot water in any jar you have around, like a mason jar. Then, pour this mix through any of the DIY coffee filters we mentioned straight into your cup. This way, you’ll have less mess to clean up and a smoother brewing process. If you’re ever out of regular coffee filters, these DIY options are handy backups. Why not try them and see which one you like best?

Avatar Of Kelsey Todd
With over two decades in the coffee industry, Kelsey is a seasoned professional barista with roots in Seattle and Santa Barbara. Accredited by The Coffee Association of America and a member of The Baristas Guild, he combines practical expertise with a profound understanding of coffee's history and cultural significance. Kelsey tries his best to balance family time with blogging time and fails miserably.

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