substitute for paper coffee filter

OK the glass carafe part of my French press developed a crack, and I decided to be cautious and not use it until I get a new carafe.
Only other coffee-maker in the house is an electric drip, but I dont have paper filters on hand.
What would you use as a fill-in replacement for paper filter...
Ive heard that
1) paper towels arent suitable, as they have glues which are released by heat.
2) cheesecloth is an ok substitute. (could I also use a clean J-cloth - also called Handiwipe - as a filter).
3) other ideas...

  • Posted by: Nancy
  • July 31, 2015


sonya August 10, 2015
I bought a cloth one on Etsy about 5 years ago and used it for quite a while. Do you have any really thin fabric that you could try?
boulangere August 5, 2015
As a desperate measure in a hotel room, I've used a paper towel with good results.
Nancy August 6, 2015
And you lived to tell the tale!
I guess they're ok in a pinch, probably not good for regular use.
HalfPint August 4, 2015
Can't really think of anything else other than a fine mesh sieve.

Do you have any clean canvas cloth? I use canvas as a couche for making baguettes or for rolling out pie crust. Maybe a (really) clean kitchen towel (made from a lightweight cloth like flour sac material) would work too.
Nancy August 4, 2015
HalfPint -
Thanks for these ideas, for futures (or if others have the problem).
The fine mesh sieve & clean kitchen towel sound good.
But I wonder if canvas thick enough to shape bread would be too thick or slow to be effective as a machine drip filter. Your view?
702551 August 4, 2015

Just test it by pouring some water over whatever canvas you have; if it pours through quickly, it might be suitable for filtering.

As far as I can tell, typical cotton canvas is not suitable for this task.

I have a couple of canvas tarps at home, plus I am familiar with artist's canvas (the kind you paint on) and neither would be suitable for this particular kitchen application.

That said, there are different grades and weaves of canvas, so you would do best to test it out yourself.
HalfPint August 5, 2015
Nancy, I think the canvas might work. The coffee isn't viscous and you can squeeze the whole thing with a back of a wooden spoon.

Another idea, do you have any linen napkins or muslin towels? Those would work.
Nancy August 5, 2015
Ok, HalfPint, I see how the torque effect of the wooden spoon would help expel /extract. For futures, if needed. Thanks
AntoniaJames July 31, 2015
Fine cheesecloth (butter muslin) would be a good choice. Be sure to dampen it well first, so it does not soak up the coffee. It's easy to rinse and dry to use again, too. ;o)
Nancy July 31, 2015
thanks Antonia for another option.
702551 July 31, 2015
For a day or two, a paper towel would have probably been fine (although the cheesecloth would have been better).

Yes, there is glue used in paper towel manufacturing (to get the paper pulp to stick to the cylinder), as well as bleach (for whiteness) and resin size (for water resistance). I occasionally use paper towels to dry off washed produce but ideally one should use paper towels at home as disposable wipes when a cloth rag isn't preferable.

Handiwipes are cotton, not paper, and impregnated with a bunch of chemicals.

An old tea towel might have been an option as long as you don't use fabric softener in your laundry (I do not).
Nancy July 31, 2015
thanks for the idea of the old tea towel.
Susan W. July 31, 2015
I use paper towels to strain my cold brew coffee when I run out of cheesecloth. I have not heard the glue warning, but it does make me think. I would use them before I would use a handy wipe. Paper towels are made to use around food, so I'm slightly doubtful it's harmful.
creamtea July 31, 2015
I have used paper towels in a pinch... You could make cold brew overnight and filter through a strainer lined with cheesecloth (ditto hot-brewed with the cheesecloth). What did the pioneers do in the days before Melitta...
Nancy July 31, 2015
thanks both caninechef and creamtea for your 'in a pinch' advice. off to buy the filters now, carafe later.
the pioneers, I presume, made what I know as camp-fire coffee. boil water in a pot, add grounds, let brew and settle, pour off the brew and leave the grounds. similar to Turkish coffee method, without the sugar.
caninechef July 31, 2015
I don't really know, but have used paper towels in a pinch. I personally would not worry about using them for a day or 2. Handiwipes just seem to be a very artificial product to me, I would have more concenrs about them.
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