Can I use a paper towel instead of a coffee filter?

In this brief article, we will provide you with the answer to the question: “Can I use a paper towel instead of a coffee filter?”, talk about other alternatives for sieving coffee, and discuss if instant coffee is a good option.

Can I use a paper towel instead of a coffee filter?

Yes, you can use a paper towel instead of a coffee filter. Here we will teach you how to do it:

Instead of a paper filter, use 1 sheet of open paper towel (or 2 open napkins if they are thin) in the coffee percolator support. 

You do not need to scald the paper first; simply add the ground coffee and then the hot water until the filtering procedure is complete. It is important to note that after usage, the napkin or paper towel must be disposed of; you cannot, for example, reuse them to pass another cup of coffee.

It is important to highlight, however, that this is an alternative when you do not have the option to use a coffee filter. There are very possibly traces of glue, bleach, or whatever other chemicals are used to process the paper towels. 

They are also very thin, so breakage is possible. And, because of this flimsiness, a pour-over or automatic drip basket is critical. Even without all of those drawbacks, the end result can be acidic and sort of papery and chemical-tasting.

What are the other alternatives for strain coffee when you do not have a coffee filter?

A sanitized dish towel or cloth napkin

Choose a fresh dish towel or cloth napkin. Place the cloth in a pour-over or automated drip basket (or attach it to the lip of your mug with a rubber band, allowing it to droop slightly into the cup), add 2 teaspoons of ground coffee, and gently pour roughly a cup of not-quite-boiling water over the grounds. 

After the water has gone through, carefully remove the grounds-filled towel and rinse well. This alternative can strain even very fine coffee grounds.

However, when utilizing a rubber band instead of a piece of equipment, the “bowl” of the filter is relatively shallow.  Another issue to consider is the possibility of staining the cloth. In addition, the resultant coffee can taste like laundry detergent.

A Sieve with a Fine Mesh

You can also use a sieve with a fine mesh to sieve your coffee. In the bottom of a glass measuring cup, place 2 teaspoons of coffee (or similar vessel). Pour a cup of not-quite-boiling water over the grounds, stir once, and set aside for 5 minutes (or less or more, depending on how strong you like your coffee). 

Pour the coffee into a cup through a fine-mesh sieve. If you want to ensure that as few coffee grounds as possible get through the sieve, place a piece of cloth over it.

You can prepare a complete pot of coffee using this method, and you have control over the strength of the coffee and may adjust how long the grounds are steep based on your preferences.

Is soluble/instant coffee a good option?

Yes, soluble coffee (also known as instant coffee) is a good option. Chlorogenic acid, an antioxidant associated with better control of blood glucose and blood pressure, has greater amounts in instant coffee. In addition to practicality, soluble coffee also has more caffeine than regular one.

Although the load of the other components is very similar between the two types, with the instant one even coming out ahead, maybe there are more benefits in regular coffee, since it has the ability to choose the quality, control the preparation and ensure more flavor. More vitamins and proteins are maintained in light or medium roasted beans, for example.

Another important concern is that acrylamide levels are higher in instant coffee. Acrylamide is a potentially hazardous chemical that is produced during the roasting of coffee beans.

Instant coffee can have up to twice the amount of acrylamide as fresh, brewed coffee.

Acrylamide overexposure can harm the neurological system and raise the risk of cancer. The quantity of acrylamide you are exposed to through diet and coffee, however, is far smaller than the level that has been demonstrated to be dangerous.

In the end, a technical tie is established after evaluating the flavor and nutritional aspects of these two types of coffee. 

Comparison of brewed and instant coffee values for a small cup (50 ml):


  • 3 calories per strain
  • 3 calories per serving


  • 1.5 milligrams from the strain
  • 1.1 mg from the instant

Niacin, vitamin B3

  • Instant – 0.025 mg
  • Strain – 0.025 mg

Cyanogenic acid

  • Strain – 500 mg
  • Instant – 550 mg


  • Strain 39 mg
  • Instant 39 mg


  • Strain – 100 mg
  • Instant – 120 mg

What are the benefits of instant coffee consumption?

As regular coffee, instant coffee also has a lot of health benefits, such as:

Coffee consumption has been linked to several health advantages.

Because instant coffee has the same antioxidants and nutrients as traditional coffee, it should provide the majority of the same health benefits.

  • Improve brain function: Its caffeine concentration has the potential to increase brain function.
  • Boost your metabolism. Caffeine in it may boost metabolism and help you burn more fat.
  • Reduce the likelihood of illness. Coffee may help to lower the risk of neurodegenerative disorders including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
  • Reduce your risk of diabetes. Coffee consumption may help lower the chance of acquiring type 2 diabetes.
  • Improve your liver’s health. Caffeine and coffee may lower the risk of liver disorders such as cirrhosis and liver cancer.


In this brief article, we provided you with the answer to the question: “Can I use a paper towel instead of a coffee filter?”, talked about other alternatives for sieving coffee, and discussed if instant coffee is a good option.


Food52. “The Best Coffee Filter Substitutes for When You’ve Run Out”, 30:00 de 400DC.

“Como coar café com e sem coador”. Acessado 3 de fevereiro de 2022.

Veja Saúde. “Café coado ou instantâneo: qual traz mais benefícios à saúde?” Acessado 3 de fevereiro de 2022.

Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.