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How To Make Coffee Without A Coffee Maker

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A lot of people run on coffee. And by extension, the coffee maker. Things can get pretty bleak if you find yourself in need of coffee, but the coffee maker just won’t work. There are several methods of brewing coffee that don’t require a coffee maker. Here’s a guide on how to make coffee without a coffee maker and still enjoy delicious coffee.

Coffee has been around way before specialty products and gadgets were invented for its consumption. There are ways to make a good cup of joe if the trusty coffee maker isn’t up to its job.

Or, you might be in a place without ready access to a coffee maker. There are better ways to make great coffee without resorting to instant coffee (shudder). Here are some to consider.

Evergreen Tips To Brewing Great Coffee

The route to good coffee comes from paying attention to detail. Many of these are factors that any good coffee machine or coffee maker is expected to handle. These tips are relevant to making a great cuppa, whether you’re using a coffee maker or using other methods.

  • Use freshly roasted coffee: Ideally, the coffee beans you’re using should have been freshly roasted. It can take a day or two after roasting for beans to come to their full flavor. Prefer coffee beans that have been roasted within two weeks. That’s one reason why coffee subscription boxes are so popular.
  • Use fresh ground coffee: People with a discerning taste prefer to use freshly ground beans for their coffee. Coffee grounds should be used within 20 minutes of being prepared. It’s best to use a burr grinder for your coffee.
  • Water temperature: The best water temperature for extracting coffee is 195-205 degrees Fahrenheit. Which means you stop just before the water boils. If you don’t have access to a thermometer, shut off the heat as soon as the water boils. Wait 30 seconds, then add coffee grounds.

Method 1: Cowboy Coffee

As the name implies, this is an old-fashioned way to get your caffeine fix. It doesn’t require much beyond conventional kitchen utensils and is a reliably good method. Cowboy Coffee is also great for times when you’re outdoors and don’t have a coffee maker or filter handy. Here’s how you can do this.

Preparation – Things You Need

  1. Coffee grounds – medium or fine grind
  2. Pot, a small saucepan works best
  3. A ladle or strainer (optional)
  4. Cowboy boots (optional)

Once you have these things ready, you can follow the step-by-step guide for making coffee without a filter or paper towel.

Step 1: Add Water To Saucepan

Start by adding clean water to the saucepan or pot. You should add more water than the amount of coffee you expect. This is because coffee grounds will absorb some water. Additionally, some water will be left behind with coffee grounds or sludge. 

If you’re making one cup of coffee, add an extra three-quarters cup of water. If you’re making two cups, maybe add an extra cup of water.

Step 2: Heat Water And Add Coffee

Place the saucepan on the stove or fire and turn on the heat. As soon as the water starts boiling, turn off the heat. Add coffee grounds to water and immediately cover the pan.

How much coffee you add is a matter of personal preference. However, adding about 1 tablespoon for every 4 ounces of water is a good bet.

Step 3: Let It Brew

After about 30-40 seconds of adding coffee grounds, stir the mix so the grounds spread evenly. Cover the pan again and allow it to stay undisturbed for about four minutes. You can add or subtract a minute from the time depending on how strong you want your coffee.

During this time, most of the coffee grounds will settle to the bottom of the pan. This indicates your coffee is ready.

Step 4: Serve

You can now use a ladle to scoop out coffee from the pan and put it in your cup. Do it slowly and be careful not to disturb the coffee grounds that have settled at the bottom. 

Alternatively, lift the pan with a steady hand and place a strainer over the cup. Slowly pour the coffee into the cup through the strainer.


Method 2: The Improvised Pour Over Or Coffee Filter Method

Pour-over coffee is the method of choice for many people. Try this method if you have a hankering for a cup but don’t have a pour over coffee maker handy. This method is useful for making coffee without a coffee pot.

This method also applies if you don’t have the conventional coffee filters available. Improvise and adapt is the core of this technique!

Preparation – Things You Need

  • Coffee grounds – medium-fine grind
  • Hot water
  • A large coffee mug
  • Clips or binders to secure coffee filter
  • Coffee filters or alternatives

In case you don’t have a coffee filter handy, you can use a clean, thin cotton handkerchief as the filter. It works fabulously, but remember that it will stain. Other items you can use are a cotton kitchen towel, paper towels, or cheesecloth. In case you use paper towels, consider using more than one because they risk tearing during use.

It’s best to use a handkerchief or similar cotton cloth. The cloth should be clean and lint-free. Ultimately, this is the best filter that can withstand the temperature and pressure without tearing.

Step 1: Prepare And Place The Filter

Start by placing your choice of coffee filter (handkerchief) over the cup. It should not lay flat over the opening of the cup. Instead, allow the filter to bend and bow a bit. It should form a curve that’s large enough to hold the coffee grounds. 

Make sure you have enough fabric going over the coffee mug to allow the filter to be secured. This won’t be a problem with most handkerchiefs but it is something worth keeping in mind.

Step 2: Secure The Filter

Use clips, elastics, or your method of choice to secure the filter in its place. Whatever you choose should be strong enough to hold the fabric in place as coffee and hot water are added.

Step 3: Add Coffee Grounds To The Filter

Add the coffee grounds to the cavity in the filter, over the cup. Shake it slightly to ensure that the filter holds. This will also distribute the coffee grounds evenly.

Step 4: Prepare Water

Heat water for your coffee. Just like the previous method, we will make allowances for the extra water required. Some water will be absorbed by the coffee grounds and the filter. 

For one cup of coffee, it is perhaps useful to heat two cups of water. For two cups of coffee, three cups of water may be needed.

As soon as the water starts to boil, turn off the heat. Wait about 30 seconds so the water cools to reach the right temperature. Now proceed to the next step.

Step 5: Let It Bloom

Pour some water on the coffee grounds. Use a circular motion of your hand to drop a thin stream of water over the coffee grounds. If you have a gooseneck kettle handy, it’s great to pour water for this method.

Remember to only pour enough water to wet the coffee grounds. Let it stay for about 30 seconds, allowing the coffee to bloom.

Step 6: Preparing Coffee

Again use circular motion of your hand to pour a steady stream of water onto the coffee. As you see the water collecting in the filter, stop pouring more. You may have to repeat this process about 2-3 times.

Once you’ve completed this process, the coffee grounds should be fully saturated. Your coffee will have dripped into the cup, ready and delicious.

Step 7: Remove The Filter

Carefully remove the clips holding the filter to the cup. Be careful that the filter or the coffee grounds don’t drop into the coffee mug. 

Enjoy your coffee!

Method 3: Turkish Coffee

It should be mentioned that Turkish Coffee is not a type of coffee but a method of preparation. In that sense, it is quite similar to the Cowboy Coffee method we saw earlier. This method is best used when you want a small cup, like an espresso shot. While it can make a larger volume as well, it may not be as suitable for the average coffee drinker.

Preparation – Things You Need

  • Coffee grounds – medium grind
  • A small pot
  • Measuring cup
  • A spoon

Step 1: Adding Water And Coffee

Measure about 5oz of water and add it to the pot. Turn on the heat. Measure one heaped teaspoon of coffee and add it to the water. Do not stir or disturb the water. You can also add sugar, about 1 teaspoon to the pot.

Step 2: Let The Water Heat

As the water begins to heat, coffee will sink to the bottom and sugar will start to dissolve. At this point, lower the heat and stir the mix. Be careful that the water should not boil. Ideally, you want it to stay just slightly below the boiling point.

Step 3: Preparing To Pour

As you continue stirring the mixture without allowing it to boil, foam will start to form at the top. As the foam gets thicker, it will cool. Collect and pour it into a cup. You will have to repeat this process 2-3 times. 

Step 4: Pouring The Coffee

Once you’ve removed the foam 3-4 times, turn off the heat. Let the pot stay undisturbed for a minute so the coffee grounds can settle at the bottom. Now pour the coffee into the cup while ensuring that coffee grounds don’t fall into the cup. Your coffee is ready.

Method 4: The Coffee Bag Method

This method employs soft coffee pods/ bags to make coffee. For reference, this method is useful for single-serve soft bags like the Melitta Coffee Pods. Solid coffee pods, like those used for Keurig K-cups, cannot be used here. 

Preparation – Things You Need

  • Coffee bags or soft coffee pods
  • Hot water

Simple enough! Here’s the step by step to make coffee without a coffee maker while using coffee pods. 

Step 1: Heat Water

Place water in a pot and heat it. Remember to leave some room for water that will be absorbed by the coffee pod. So if you’re making one cup, consider adding extra water, less than one-quarter cup.

These are usually single-serve pods, so use one pod for every cup of coffee you want to make.

Step 2: Using The Coffee Bag

As soon as the water boils, turn off the heat. Let it sit for about 30 seconds to bring it to optimal extraction temperature. Now place the coffee pod into the cup and slowly pour the water over it.

Step 3: Let It Steep

Once you’ve poured the water, let it steep with the coffee pod for about 5 minutes. You may change the time by adding or removing 2 minutes depending on your preferred strength for the brew. 

Once the desired steeping time is over, carefully remove the pod and enjoy your coffee.

Alternate Method: DIY Coffee Bag

This method is useful when you have coffee and a filter available, but no coffee pod. In this case, you can make a DIY coffee bag. Simply put the coffee in the filter and wrap it up.

Now tie a string to the filter so the coffee is secure inside it. This string is also useful for removing the coffee pod from your beverage. Be sure that the string is not coated with plastic or similar material that will melt with the heat. Once the coffee bag is ready, simply follow the steps mentioned above.

Another way to go about this is to empty a tea bag and fill it up with coffee instead! It is simpler and perhaps more fruitful than using a filter to create a coffee bag.

Method 5: The Faux French Press

The Faux French Press
Image: homegrounds.co

This method seeks to recreate the taste and full-bodied coffee that you get from a French Press. Only in this case, we will accomplish the same without using a French Press. Here’s the recipe.

Preparation – Things You Need

  • Coffee grounds – medium to coarse grind
  • Two large mugs or glass jars
  • Metal strainer (optional)

Step 1: Add Water To Coffee

Start with heating the water. Add more water than you need to account for absorption by coffee grounds and water leftover with coffee sludge. As soon as the water boils, turn off the heat and let it cool for 30 seconds.

Place two heaped tablespoons of coffee grounds in one of the mugs. Pour water on top of the coffee grounds.

Step 2: Let It Steep

Let the water and coffee mix to steep for about four minutes. You may allow it an extra minute or reduce the steeping time as per your preference. Longer steeping time means stronger coffee.

Step 3: Transfer Coffee To Your Cup

Once the steeping time is over, the coffee grounds will have settled at the bottom of the cup. Slowly pick up the cup and gently pour its contents into the second cup. You may place a fine metal strainer over the cup to catch any erring coffee grounds. Leave about 30-40ml of water in the original cup so that the coffee grounds stay there.

The second cup has your faux French Press coffee. Enjoy!

Making Coffee Without Coffee Maker

The methods and tips listed here can be helpful when you need to make coffee without a coffee maker. These are the most common and useful methods, though there are some other methods as well. While these methods require some extra work over using your trusty coffee maker, they make a good cup of coffee.

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