How to Use a Coffee Maker Without a Filter

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A coffee drinker's worst nightmare might be preparing a morning cup of joe and finding all the coffee filters gone. But you can still make your morning cup, sans filter. Several household items can substitute for coffee filters, but your best bet is a sturdy paper towel to effectively filter coffee and keep the grounds out of your cup.


Step 1: Fold the Paper Towel

Take a full sheet of paper towel and fold it in half. Fold it in half again to form a large square.

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Step 2: Form a Cone

Take the corner of the paper towel square that doesn't have folds, and pull one of the sides out while holding the other 3 back to form a cone.

Step 3: Prepare Your Coffee

Place the paper towel cone in your coffee maker filter basket, add coffee grounds, and close the lid. Prepare your coffee as you normally would.

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Other Suitable Coffee Filter Substitutes

Cheesecloth makes a fine coffee filter, though coarser varieties should be avoided because they can let coffee grounds trickle through.


If you're only brewing a single serving, a small fine or superfine mesh sieve works great. Just put a spoonful of grounds in the sieve, and then place it in your coffee maker filter basket.


  • Avoid using paper towels with decorative printing or embossing; they contain dyes and are not as sturdy.
  • The paper towel coffee filter works best with normal sized pots of coffee and should not be used to make large batches -- you run the risk of having the paper towel rip.



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