There are several ways to make coffee without a filter. Your reasoning for needing to or wanting to do so may differ based on several factors. There are a growing number of people who are phasing out paper filters altogether as a sustainable coffee practice. Others are simply trying to reduce spending on single-use items. And there are other valid reasons for not using paper filters (or filters at all).
All brewing methods listed in this article do not require a paper filter. Some opt for some sort of mesh filter (reusable) and others either don’t use any filter whatsoever or get creative with what they use as a filter. These filterless methods have many advantages that make brewing coffee easy in their own right. Not only do they provide easy and fast ways to make a delicious cup, but also allow you to experiment with different brewing methods and how they affect the taste of your coffee. Note that different types of filters result in different tastes in the coffee.
6 Ways of Making Coffee Without a Filter
As we mentioned above, none of these brewing methods use a paper filter rather some use some sort of reusable filter or absolutely no filter at all.
1. French Press
The first on our list is probably one of the most popular ways of making coffee. A French Press, also known a coffee plunger, is a coffee brewing device that uses a cylindrical pot with a plunger controlling a metal mesh filter. The coffee grounds are placed in the pot and hot water is added on top of them. The mixture is left to steep, allowing the coffee to brew in full immersion with the brew water.
After steeping, the plunger is pressed to separate the liquid coffee from the coffee grounds, effectively filtering the coffee. The liquid coffee is then poured out and ready to be enjoyed. This method of brewing allows the coffee to retain more of its natural oils and flavors, resulting in a stronger and more full-bodied taste than other methods such as drip brewing. Paper filters often hold back these oils so make sure you enjoy the stronger taste whenever you pull out your French Press.
How to Make French Press
Making French Press coffee for the first time is easy and straightforward. Here are the steps:
- Heat water to 200°F (preferably with a goose-necked kettle)
- Grind coffee beans coarsely
- Add coffee grounds to French press and pour hot water over it
- Stir and let it steep for four minutes
- Press the plunger to separate the coffee grounds from the liquid
- Serve coffee in a mug and don’t allow the coffee to stay in the press for too long after brewing
You can adjust the strength of the coffee by changing the amount of coffee grounds used or the steeping time. It is also important to clean your French press after every use. You can do this by pouring out the grounds and rinsing the press with hot water.
2. Instant Coffee
Instant coffee, also known as soluble coffee, is made by brewing coffee and then dehydrating it. What results is a coarse powder of dehydrated coffee also known as granules. Instant coffee is convenient because it is easy to store and can be made quickly. All you need to do is add hot water to the instant coffee and stir it. Instant coffee is generally considered to have a weaker taste than freshly brewed coffee and it might have a different mouthfeel as well. Some instant coffee brands have improved the taste and texture of instant coffee to make it more similar to freshly brewed coffee.
How to Make Instant Coffee
To make instant coffee, follow these steps:
- Add hot water to instant coffee powder or granules inside your preferred mug (specific amounts specified by instant coffee brand)
- Stir until dissolved
3. Cold Brew
Cold brew is a method of making coffee where ground coffee is steeped in cold or room temperature water for an extended period of time, typically 8 to 24 hours. The steeping process extracts the flavours and caffeine from the coffee beans, but in a slower and gentler way than hot brewing methods. This results in a less acidic tasting coffee with a lot of body.
Cold brew coffee is then typically served chilled, often over ice, and can be enjoyed as is or with the addition of milk or sweetener. The process of making cold brew is simple as it relies on time and temperature to brew and it doesn't require any special equipment other than a container, a way to separate the grounds, and coarsely ground coffee.
How to Make Cold Brew
To make cold-brew coffee, follow these steps:
- Add coarsely ground coffee to a container
- Add cold or room temperature water to the container
- Steep for 12-24 hours in the refrigerator (longer duration for cold temperatures)
- Strain the coffee grounds out
- Dilute with water to desired strength (usually 1:1 ratio)
- Enjoy it chilled, with ice or with milk and sweeteners (if desired)
Note: For a stronger flavor, you can increase the amount of coffee or brew for longer
Espresso is a type of concentrated, brewed coffee that is made by forcing hot water through finely ground coffee beans under high pressure. The high pressure and the fine grind of the coffee beans, allow for fast extraction of the grounds. The result is a concentrated, full-bodied coffee with a thick, creamy layer of foam on top, called crema.
Espresso machines use a pump to create the high pressure needed to extract the flavors from the coffee beans and the machine uses a metal filter to hold the coffee grounds while allowing the pressurized water through. The water is heated to around 200°F. While not needing any sort of single-use filter, this method does require the use of an espresso machine or even a hand-press espresso maker.
How to Make Espresso
To make espresso, you will need an espresso machine, follow these steps:
- Fill the machine's water tank and turn it on
- Grind coffee beans finely and add them to the portafilter
- Tamp the ground coffee to ensure a tight puck for even extraction
- Insert the portafilter into the machine and start the extraction process
- Enjoy alone or by adding to steamed/frothed milk
It's important to note that making espresso requires a specific machine and some skill to get the right grind, tamping and extraction time to make a good espresso.
Turkish coffee is a traditional method of brewing coffee that is characterized by its fine grind and long brewing time. The coffee beans are ground to a very fine powder and then added to a pot, typically called a cezve, along with water and sugar. The pot is placed over a low heat, and the coffee is slowly brewed, typically for 5 to 10 minutes.
One of the key features of Turkish coffee is that it is not filtered, which means that the finely ground coffee remains in the liquid (you drink the whole mixture once fully brewed), giving the coffee a thick, creamy texture. The result is a strong, full-bodied coffee with a rich, velvety texture and a thick foam on top.
Turkish coffee is traditionally served in small cups and accompanied by a glass of water to cleanse the palate and to aid digestion. The traditional way of brewing Turkish coffee does not require any filters, but it does require a specific pot and a heating source to make it.
How to Make Turkish Coffee
To make Turkish coffee, follow these steps:
- Place the cezve (coffee pot) on the heat source.
- Add water, sugar (if desired), extracts, and finely ground coffee to the pot.
- Bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring occasionally.
- Once the coffee starts to foam, remove it from the heat.
- Allow the coffee to settle for a few seconds.
- Pour the coffee into small cups and enjoy it.
Note: Turkish coffee is traditionally made over low heat, so you will need a heat source, it can be a stove, a hot plate, or even a campfire, and a cezve which is a specific small pot used for brewing Turkish coffee.
6. ‘Sock’ Pour Over
The ‘Sock’ method is a filter-less method of making pour-over coffee that uses a cloth filter, often referred to as a "coffee sock", in place of a paper filter. The coffee sock is a simple and reusable method of making coffee.
The process of making "Sock" Pour Over coffee involves placing the coffee sock filled with ground coffee on top of a cup or a carafe and then pouring hot water over the coffee grounds. The hot water is poured in a circular motion, allowing the coffee to steep and extract its flavor. Once the water has passed through the coffee, the brewed coffee is poured out and ready to be enjoyed.
The "Sock" Pour Over method allows the coffee to retain more of its natural oils and flavors, resulting in a stronger and more full-bodied taste than other methods such as drip brewing. It also eliminates the need for paper filters, making it more environmentally friendly. The process is simple, and it doesn't require special equipment, just a cloth filter, a heating source and coffee beans.
How to Make Sock Method
To make "Sock" Pour Over coffee, follow these steps:
- Place a coffee sock filled with ground coffee on top of a cup or a carafe.
- Pour hot water over the coffee grounds.
- Wait for the water to pass through the coffee.
- Remove the coffee sock.
- Enjoy your coffee
Note: You will need a cloth filter, a heating source and coffee beans. Metal mesh pour over filters also exist but taste more like French Press than cloth pour overs. You can adjust the strength of the coffee by changing the amount of coffee used or the steeping time. It's a simple process that doesn't require any special equipment.
Filter-less Coffee Brewing Conclusion
These methods of brewing coffee are varied; each produces unique tastes and mouthfeels. If trying to find a replacement for paper filter brew methods, you should try at least a few of these and see what you like the best. Some are easier than others so the amount of work should also be taken into consideration.
Whatever you choose, several variables to each brewing method should be dialed in when creating your routines and preferences. Feel free to test liberally and find out what you like best. Brewing without a filter doesn’t limit you in your pursuit of good coffee. Enjoy the process!
About the Author
This article was written by Jordan O'Hara, Founder of Windansea Coffee.
You can learn more about him here.