How To Make Coffee Without A Filter – 7 Great Methods

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hands holding a cup of black coffee

Realizing you’re out of coffee filters as you’re about to pull an all-nighter is a bummer. 

But, it’s not a disaster.

Not as long as you know how to make coffee without a filter

I know a few ways you can do that, and in this article, I’m going to share them with you. 

Let’s dive in!

Make Cold Brew Coffee

person pouring milk into a cup of cold brew coffee

If you haven’t tried this brewing method out, running out of filters is the perfect occasion to give it a shot. 

And don’t let the name confuse you – this is not iced coffee. 

Thanks to the long-brewing process, cold brew is full-bodied, smooth and aromatic. It’s less bitter and acidic than regular iced coffee.

How To Make Cold Brew

Cold brew coffee is pretty simple to make, even without a filter. You can use a cheesecloth strainer instead, or any other type of strainer that’s fine enough to separate the grounds.

Here’s how you can do it.

  1. Add 3 ounces of coarsely ground coffee beans to a jar. Go for a coarse grind, as it makes the filtration process easier and it makes your coffee taste less bitter.
  2. Pour 16 fluid ounces into the jar. For this recipe, we’re going for a 1:6 coffee-to-water ratio, to reach the perfect strength.
  3. Grab a spoon and stir the concoction. 
  4. Seal the jar and store it in the fridge for anywhere from 7 to 12 hours.
  5. Place the kitchen towel or a double-layered cheesecloth over a carafe. This will separate the grounds from the coffee.
  6. Pour your coffee into the carafe. 
  7. When you’re ready to serve, add ice cubes to a cup and pour the filtered coffee over them. You can further dilute the drink with more water or milk, or drink it as it is.

My favorite thing about cold brew coffee is that you can store it in the fridge for up to two weeks. This means you can make a large batch and not worry about making coffee for another week or two. 

Use A French Press

person pouring coffee out of a french press into coffee cups

Ah, the French press – truly one of the greatest coffee makers ever invented. 

What I love the most about it is that you can use it for so many different things. Brewing coffee, making tea – and even frothing your milk.  

How’s that for versatility?

But the most important thing, of course, is that it makes wonderful coffee –  without a filter.

How To Use A French Press

Not only does it make great coffee – it’s super simple to use as well.

All you have to do is follow these steps:

  1. Heat your French press up by pouring hot water into it and giving it a good swirl before emptying it.
  2. Pour some ground coffee into your French press.
  3. Pour hot water over your coffee grounds.
  4. Place the lid on top of the French press to close it.
  5. Wait around 4 minutes.
  6. Slowly push the plunger all the way down to the bottom.
  7. Pour into a coffee cup to serve.

Delicious freshly brewed coffee – no filter required.

If you have a French press on hand, you’ll never sweat running out of filters again.

James Hoffmann’s ultimate French Press technique takes 10-12 minutes to brew.

Try Turkish Coffee

person serving a cup of turkish coffee

The only thing you need to make Turkish coffee is a pot, coffee grounds, water and sugar. 

Well, sugar is optional for those that find this type of coffee too bold. 

I like to test my limits, so sugar is not in my coffee vocabulary. 

Traditionally, Turkish coffee is made in a cezve, a long-handled pot made from either copper or brass. Since that’s not something most of us have laying around the house, you can use a small saucepan.

The extraction time for this type of coffee is just a few seconds, which is why you’ll need to use extra-fine grounds. I’m talking powder fine – even finer than espresso.

Let’s get one thing straight – this is definitely one of the boldest and most flavorful brewing methods out there. For that reason, it takes some time to get used to.

The first time I tried Turkish coffee, I took no more than two sips. 

Don’t get me wrong – it tasted amazing. But it was so strong I felt my heart pumping like I was being chased by a bear. 

But that was a long time ago. Nowadays, I like to brag about the amount of Turkish coffee I can drink in one go. 

How To Make Turkish Coffee

To get back on the subject, here’s how you can make Turkish coffee at home.

  1. Add water to a saucepan, around 1.7 ounces per cup.
  2. Add sugar as per your liking. This step is optional.
  3. Bring the water to a boil, then remove it from the heat.
  4. Add a heaped teaspoon of coffee into the pot, and place it back on the stove.
  5. As soon as the coffee reaches boiling point, remove it from the heat again, discard the accumulated foam and mix it well.
  6. Do this one more time.
  7. Let the grounds sink to the bottom before serving. 

Always use freshly ground coffee when making Turkish coffee. If you use stale grounds that have been sitting on a shelf for months, your coffee won’t foam.

Another thing you should do is remove it from the heat as soon as you see bubbles appearing. Don’t let it boil for too long, or else your coffee will taste bitter. 

Go For Instant Coffee Powder 

cup of instant coffee

Hey, don’t roll your eyes at the thought of using instant coffee powder

I know it’s not ideal. But in an ideal world, we wouldn’t have to think about these alternatives, would we?

What’s more, this type of coffee is pretty popular overseas. Especially in Great Britain, where 24 million people across the nation enjoy this type of drink on a regular basis

And I get them. It’s a quick and effortless way of making coffee, and sometimes, that’s precisely what we need first thing in the morning.

How To Make Instant Coffee

Generally, a teaspoon of instant coffee powder is a standard dose for a cup. But, you can add more or less, depending on how strong and flavorful you want your coffee to be.

Making instant coffee is pretty straightforward:

  1. Heat water until it boils.
  2. Take it off the heat source and wait for about half a minute for the water to cool down slightly.
  3. Add coffee powder to a mug, then pour the hot water over it. You can also add sugar or milk to make it more drinkable.

And that’s pretty much it. 

A great option for days when you simply can’t bother to do anything.

Although instant coffee grounds will dissolve faster in hot water, you can definitely make instant coffee with cold water

Use A Paper Towel

So, a filter serves to separate your coffee from the grounds. 

But other things can do that, too. 

A paper towel, for example, is a pretty good paper coffee filter substitute

Now, I don’t claim this will be the best cup of coffee you’ve ever tasted, but it will definitely be sediment-free. 

One word of caution – only use unbleached paper towels. 

The last thing you want in your coffee is unhealthy chemicals, am I right?

How To Use A Paper Towel As A Coffee Filter

Here’s how you can use a paper towel as a filter.

  1. Cut a few pieces of paper towel so that they’re approximately the same size as a coffee filter.
  2. Put 2 to 3 pieces in the filter basket of your coffee maker. If the lid doesn’t close, snip the edges that are sticking over the basket
  3. Brew your filter coffee as usual.

It’s as simple as that.

Doesn’t it feel good to know that when you run out of filters, you can still use your coffee maker? 

It’s a last resort but hey, it works pretty well.

Brew With A Sock

pink socks on legs sticking out of a car

No, I’m not joking. 

When you’re out of filters but you’re craving a hot cup of coffee, you need to get creative. 

And who would have thought that a sock can do such a good job at keeping the sediment out of your coffee? 

Well, it can.

Just make sure it’s clean – of course.

How To Use A Sock As A Coffee Filter

Here’s what you need to do.

  1. Boil some water.
  2. Attach a sock to the brim of a coffee mug and put ground coffee inside. 
  3. Pour hot water over the grounds.
  4. Leave it for 3 to 6 minutes, depending on how thick your sock is.
  5. Remove the sock and enjoy.

It goes without saying that you should only use a sock that hasn’t been washed with a strongly scented detergent. The last thing you want is your coffee to taste like lilac. 

Drink Coffee Like A Cowboy

old black and white photo of a cowboy making coffee

No filters?

This might sound like a problem to you or me, but a real cowboy wouldn’t be bothered by such a trivial thing. They didn’t use filters in the Wild Wild West. 

The only thing cowboys needed for a good cup of java was water, ground coffee beans, a pot and a heat source. 

How To Make Cowboy Coffee

Traditionally, cowboy coffee is made over an open fire, but who’s to say you can’t be a cowboy within the four walls of your home?

You can use the stove instead, I won’t tell anyone.

Since it’s a no filter brewing method, cowboy coffee has somewhat of a negative reputation. But those who claim that cowboy coffee doesn’t taste good just don’t know how to brew it properly.

But I do.

Just follow these steps:

  1. Pour water into a pot and put it on a heat source. Bring it to a boil.
  2. Once you start seeing bubbles, remove the pot from the heat source and let it cool for about 30 seconds. This will lower the water temperature to under 200°F, which is the sweet spot for brewing cowboy coffee.
  3. Add 2 tablespoons of coffee grounds for every 8 ounces of water. 
  4. Stir a couple of times.
  5. Let the coffee sit for 2 minutes, then stir again.
  6. Let it sit for another 2 minutes.
  7. Then, sprinkle some cold water on your coffee. This might sound weird, but it actually lets the grounds sink to the bottom.
  8. Take your time when pouring the coffee into your mug. Doing it slowly assures the grounds stay on the bottom.

The best cowboy coffee is one that’s served right after it’s brewed. If you let it sit in the coffee grounds for too long, it will become bitter. 

Time To Get Brewing

As you can see, running out of coffee filters is nothing too tragic. 

With a little bit of creativity, you can find plenty of things around the house that can serve as a paper coffee filter substitute. 

Opting for instant coffee is definitely the easiest solution. But if you’re feeling adventurous, go for Turkish or cowboy coffee. 

You won’t regret it!

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Viktoria Marks
Viktoria is a writer and a journalist who can't imagine sitting by her computer without a large cup of java in her hand. She loves sampling coffee from all over the world as much as writing about it.