How to make a decent cup of coffee when you’re out of filters

As chemically dependent as I am on coffee, I invariably run out of filters a couple times a year. Surely I have another box in the pantry, I pray, only to feel my heart sink down to my toes when at 6 a.m. I realize, nope. Zero filters. I’ve done some desperate stuff in those bleak, early-morning moments, once trying to shoehorn a paper towel into a v60 and nearly scalding myself. Friends, there is a better way.

And that better way is not just to suck it up and go buy coffee. I mean, you honestly expect me to deal with other human beings before I’ve had a cup? You overestimate my geniality. No, the alternatives still allow you to make coffee at home using just a small dose of ingenuity.

Use a French press

French presses don’t require paper filters, so this seems like a no-brainer. But I’m adding it to the list because I don’t use my French press on a daily basis—I only use it while camping, actually—so I tend to forget I own it. This is a note to self: Kate, you have a French press in the camp box. Go get it.

Invest in a cloth filter

For those prone to forgetting to restock filters, a cloth filter is a good back-up. They trap almost as many solids and oils as paper filters, but they’re reusable, so you can keep them on hand and never worry about running out. (Cloth filters are available to fit various coffee-making devices; here’s an example.)