How to make coffee without filter?
Running out of paper coffee filters or not being able to use your coffee maker for a day isn’t as horrible as you think. There are several ways to make coffee without a filter.
How to make coffee without filter?
You can use everyday objects to filter your coffee, such as a cheesecloth, paper towel, dish towel, mesh strainer, or reusable tea bag. There are also techniques for preparing coffee that do not require the use of a filter. One of the most popular manual preparation methods is the cowboy coffee technique.
In this article, we give you step-by-step instructions for making coffee with makeshift coffee filters. You will also learn other coffee preparation techniques that you can use on days when your coffee maker fails.
Can you make coffee without a filter?
What would happen if you woke up to discover that your coffee pot was not working or that you had no paper filters to use?
Would you go for a cup of instant coffee or drag yourself to the store if you knew you could make coffee without a filter or using another object as a filter?
If you don’t have coffee filters at home, there are a number of objects to replace it. The key is to find a clean, non-toxic material that will successfully separate the grounds from the brew.
Anything from a fine-mesh strainer to a dish towel can work as long as you secure the makeshift filter to the mug with cable ties or rubber bands and give the coffee plenty of time to brew.
Another alternative to filtering your coffee with everyday objects is not to filter it at all. But for this you must know a good coffee preparation technique. A popular method of coffee preparation that does not require any filter is cowboy coffee.
What is cowboy coffee?
If you have a coffee maker, chances are you’re not familiar with the coffee brewing method called cowboy coffee.
But if instant coffee isn’t something you want to depend on, and you don’t have a clue how to make coffee without a filter, then knowing how the cowboy method works is a must for you.
A similar method to cowboy coffee is making mud coffee, but there are a few key differences. In the case of cowboy coffee, you need to bring the water to a boil. With earthen coffee, you have to keep the water temperature below boiling for the ground beans to release their flavor.
Another important difference is that with the cowboy method, as soon as the beans settle, the coffee is poured into the cups. With earthen coffee, they are left at the bottom of the coffee cup.
But overall, both mud coffee and cowboy coffee are great manual coffee brewing methods that don’t require a filter.
How to make cowboy coffee
Here’s how to make cowboy coffee if you don’t have a coffee maker or filter handy:
- Fill a saucepan with water. You will need a little more water than when making a normal coffee.
- Turn on the stove and put the water to boil.
- When the water starts to boil, start adding the coffee grounds. For every 6 ounces of water, you should add 2 tablespoons of coffee.
- When you have added the coffee, let the water boil until the coffee grounds sink and mix with the water.
- Turn off the heat and cover the pot immediately.
- Keep the coffee covered for a few minutes. This will give the coffee grounds time to settle to the bottom of the pan. Meanwhile, the taste of the coffee will be enriched.
- Remove the lid and your coffee is ready to be served. Use a ladle to pour yourself a cup of coffee or pour it directly from the saucepan. If the grounds have settled, they should not reach the bowl.
Bonus tip: If you don’t like strong coffee, add a little less than two full tablespoons per 6 ounces of water. After making cowboy coffee a few times, you’ll find the water-to-coffee ratio that works best for you.
The Best Paper Coffee Filter Substitutes
If you don’t like the idea of cowboy coffee, or just love the taste of your regular brewed coffee, don’t despair.
Luckily, there are multiple coffee filter substitutes that will help you successfully brew coffee on days when you can’t make a properly filtered coffee.
Tips before preparing coffee
To obtain satisfactory results, it is not enough to know how concrete substitutes work.
There are other things to keep in mind:
First of all, you must use freshly ground coffee. With freshly ground beans, you only have to wait 15 to 20 minutes. Beans that have been milled for days will take longer to release their flavor.
Second, use water that is neither too hot nor too cold. Boiling water will “burn” your coffee beans. Cold water, on the other hand, will not serve to extract its flavor. In general, the perfect water temperature for brewing flavorful coffee is between 195 and 205 degrees.
Don’t worry if you don’t have a thermometer. No need to search for a coffee substitute and a thermometer. You can just boil water and let it sit for about 30 seconds. It should reach the right temperature.
Lastly, use freshly roasted beans if you can. Using beans that have been roasted in the last 10-14 days will definitely enhance the flavor of your brewed coffee with everyday items you have on hand.
But if you can’t get the beans from a local roaster, don’t worry. Your coffee will still be very tasty.
Here are five coffee filter substitutes you can use to make perfectly brewed coffee. If you don’t have coffee filters, you probably have one of these on hand.
1. Cheese cloth
If you spend a lot of time in the kitchen and are good at making custards, nut milks, easy varieties of cheese, etc., the chances are high that you have bast at home.
Here’s how to make coffee using a piece of cheesecloth:
- Cut a piece of cheesecloth by measuring it based on the size of the cup in which you are going to use it. Cut the piece large enough to fold in half twice. By folding the cheesecloth several times, a fine mesh is created.
- Place the folded piece of cheesecloth over a large mug. Hold it with tongs (or a rubber band) to make sure the cheesecloth will stay in place when you start to pour the water. Make sure the fabric is loose enough that there is a sizable gap in it for the coffee grounds and water to settle.
- Pour a few teaspoons of medium ground coffee into the cheesecloth that will serve as the filter. Spread the ground coffee evenly over the filter.
- Boil the water.
- Pour a small amount of water over the ground coffee to wet it down and open up the aroma. Let it rest for 30 seconds.
- Slowly pour in the rest of the water.
- If you notice that the cheesecloth is thick and the coffee doesn’t seep through easily, help it by gently stirring with a spoon.
- Once all the coffee has filtered, remove the cheesecloth and enjoy your coffee.
Note : It is best to use an oversized cup to allow plenty of room when filtering. Many people underestimate the amount of space it will take for the coffee grounds to settle, especially if the water is slowly percolating.
It’s much easier to transfer the coffee to your favorite cup later than to run out of space and make a mess while brewing.
2. Paper towel
Making a coffee filter out of a paper towel is also an option. However, make sure that the towel is not so thin that it will tear as soon as you put water on it.
Also, since paper towels are often treated with chemicals, you should at least choose a paper towel that doesn’t smell and doesn’t have any fingerprints on it. This increases the chance that your towel will be safe to use.
Follow these steps to make filter coffee using a paper towel:
- Take a square piece of paper towel.
- Fold the paper towel in half twice.
- Put the paper towel in the coffee pot (like a Chemex) where you would put the paper filter. Unfold one corner to create an opening. If you are using a cup, secure the paper towel in it with a rubber band.
- Add a few tablespoons of coffee grounds, in the usual proportion.
- Slowly pour in the hot water.
- Remove the paper towel with the coffee grounds once all the water has filtered out.
3. Tea towel
A fairly thin, clean kitchen towel can also be used as a substitute for the coffee filter. The nice thing about this option is that you probably always have a clean dish towel or cloth napkin lying around your house.
Here’s how a kitchen towel can work as a coffee filter:
- Find a clean kitchen towel. Do not use the precious white cloths to avoid the risk of staining them.
- Fold the towel in half.
- Secure the folded tea towel to the cup with an elastic or a pair of tweezers.
- Put the coffee grounds in your makeshift filter. Two tablespoons per cup of water will suffice.
- Slowly pour hot water over the coffee.
- Once all the water has filtered out, remove the kitchen towel, rinse it quickly to avoid staining, and enjoy your coffee with the additives you want.
4. Mesh strainer
If you have a fine mesh strainer, you can use it as a substitute for the coffee filter. This is the best way to filter your coffee with a mesh strainer.
- Pour the ground coffee into a measuring cup or mug. Two tablespoons per cup.
- Pour a small amount of hot water over the coffee and allow it to bloom.
- Pour the rest of the water into the cup.
- Let the coffee steep for 5 minutes, or longer if you like your coffee strong.
- Place the mesh strainer in a clean coffee cup and pour the coffee through it. The strainer will catch the coffee grounds and leave you with perfectly filtered coffee.
You’ll find that this method works a lot like a tea bag or tea strainer, just not as much as the next method!
5. Reusable Tea Bag
If you’re a tea person, it’s more than understandable that you’d be looking for a way to make coffee without a filter. And if you like your tea, chances are you have reusable tea bags or strainers in your kitchen.
Here’s how to use a tea bag or strainer to filter your coffee:
- Add finely ground coffee into the reusable tea bag/strainer and close.
- Submerge the coffee tea bag in a cup of water that is neither too hot nor too cold.
- Leave the tea bag in the water until the coffee is as strong as you like.
- Remove tea bag/strainer and enjoy.
You can also use a bag of nuts or a tissue as a substitute for the coffee filter. If you have a new pair of cotton socks, guess what, you can use it to filter your coffee!
It may not be the most pleasant experience to make your coffee, but if you really want to try it, it should do the trick.
If it’s your worst nightmare not being able to make filtered coffee before going to work or the gym, and you don’t want to go through the hassle of making a makeshift filter, the best thing you can do is buy a reusable filter.
Reusable coffee filters have multiple advantages.
First of all, you can use them whenever you can’t use a normal coffee maker. Second, they will save you money, since you won’t have to buy paper filters all the time. And finally, reusable coffee filters are portable, lightweight, and perfect for travel.
What else can you do?
Assuming you don’t have a Moka pot or French press lying around, you may need an impromptu brewing method.
If you don’t like the cowboy coffee method and can’t find any of the above ingredients for a makeshift coffee filter, here are some other options that might work for you.
Make a bag of coffee in a handmade way
You can make a coffee bag using a paper filter. But if you had a filter, why would you need a coffee bag?
Instead, you can make it using a tea bag:
- Gently open a tea bag and substitute with coffee. You can also use one of those empty nylon tea bags that you can buy in bulk.
- Put the tea bag filled with coffee in your cup.
- Start pouring boiled water over the tea bag. Do this slowly to prevent the bag from opening and spilling the coffee into the water.
- Let the DIY coffee bag sit in the hot water for about 5 minutes.
- Remove the bag and enjoy your coffee.
This is basically the same as making your coffee with a reusable tea bag or strainer, but now you know you can even use the tea bag that comes stuffed in a box.
makeshift french press
If your coffee pot isn’t working, or you don’t have paper filters or anything to replace them, then this makeshift French press method is something you should try.
You only need two cups, freshly ground coffee and water.
Here’s how to make a makeshift French press:
- Boil water.
- Add the fresh coffee grounds to a cup.
- Pour in a small amount of water to cover the coffee grounds.
- Wait 30 seconds and continue pouring the rest of the water.
- Let the coffee brew for about 4-5 minutes. If you like it strong, let the coffee brew a few more minutes.
- When you’re done making the coffee, pour it into a clean cup. Do this slowly to prevent the coffee grounds from pouring into the new cup along with the liquid. This shouldn’t be a problem as the grounds sink to the bottom of the cup as you let the coffee brew.
- Enjoy your coffee made with the improvised French press technique.
The microwave method
Coffee gurus will say that using the microwave to make coffee is simply unacceptable. But if you have to make coffee without a filter, using the microwave to do it is an option. So why not?
Here’s how to make your morning cup of coffee in the microwave:
- Heat a cup of water in the microwave. Don’t boil it.
- Once well heated, remove the cup with water and add the ground coffee to it.
- Stir well to make sure there are no coffee clumps in the water.
- Let the mixture settle and prepare. The stronger you like your coffee, the longer you should let it steep.
- Drink the coffee made in the microwave. But remember to avoid the last few sips, as the grounds will settle at the bottom of the cup.