How to Make Coffee Without a Coffee Maker

By Emily Ennis — / Coffee Talk

Can I Make Coffee Without a Coffee Maker?

There, there, young grasshopper. There are several options for making coffee without a coffee maker, depending on the resources you have lying around your house. Whatever concoction you end up with will not hold a candle to your freshly brewed cup, but there are several ways to make coffee without a coffee maker. Yes, several.

Believe it or not, people have been drinking coffee since the 15th century—without a coffee maker in sight. It wasn't until 1954 that the drip coffee maker came into play. So how did humanity survive without a coffee maker?

We know the feeling all too well...waking up to your coffee maker that just sh*t the bed—or being forced to camp with no coffee maker at all. While some of us have the time to grind our beans to fresh grounds and beautifully bloom a brew in the Chemex, the rest of us are sleepwalking straight to the brew button, silently begging for it to brew just a little bit faster.

But what happens when you hit that button and the brew doesn’t start? That morning cup of ambition has come to a screeching halt—and you're late to your 9-5. The first thing on your to-do list now is to find a way to get some coffee in you—STAT. 

How to Brew Without a Coffee Maker

A couple sitting around a campfire making cowboy coffee with Death Wish Coffee.

The Cowboy Method

Not to worry. You won’t need a horse or ten-gallon hat to make this method work. This DIY coffee making method was discovered back when cowboys used to sit around a fire and make coffee in a pot. Since then, campers have used this method for centuries. All you need is a heat source, container, coffee grounds and water. You can make it almost anywhere, as long as you don’t mind just a little bit of grit in your cup.

Brewing Tools:

  • Coffee grounds
  • Water
  • Kettle or pot
  • Stirring utensil
  • Mug

Brewing Instructions:

  1. Scoop your preferred ratio of coffee grounds.  
  2. Add water to your kettle or pot.  
  3. Place kettle over fire or stove and bring to a boil. 
  4. Boil for 2 minutes and remove from stove.  
  5. Allow grounds to sink to the bottom of the kettle (4-5 minutes). 
  6. Gently pour coffee into mug, avoiding any of the “sludge” that’s accumulated at the bottom.
  7. Sip it down and giddy up!  

A man placing a single-serve pour over pouch in a Death Wish Coffee mug.

The Coffee Bag Method

A coffee bag is basically a teabag filled with coffee grounds. The porous container allows the grounds to steep in hot water, which is similar to a Death Cup or single-serve coffee pod. To make life even easier, you can buy our Single-Serve Pour Over Coffee Pouches to have on deck. The coffee bag method may be the simplest method of all, so listen closely. 

Brewing Tools:

  • Coffee bag (similar to a teabag, but with coffee grounds inside). If you don't have either of these, you can use a coffee filter.
  • Water
  • Mug

Brewing Instructions:

  1. Boil water.  
  2. Place coffee bag or coffee filter in a mug. If using a coffee filter, bunch the filter up like a bag and put several teaspoons of coffee into the middle. 
  3. Slowly pour water over coffee bag or filter until saturated.  
  4. Leave coffee bag immersed in water until desired steep time. (The strength of your brew can be adjusted based on steeping time.) 
  5. Once you've reached your desired steep time, remove the coffee bag and discard.  

A person making coffee using a saucepan over an open fire.[Photo Credit: David Tran via Unsplash]

The Saucepan Method

With limited supplies, this option will work for you. If you’ve got the kitchen basics, you can brew up a cup or even a pot from the comfort of your stovetop.

Brewing Tools:

  • Coffee grounds
  • Water
  • Small saucepan
  • Spoon
  • Ladle
  • Mug

Brewing Instructions:

  1. Pour water into your pan. Use more water than the amount of coffee you want since you’ll lose some of it while boiling. 
  2. Stir the coffee grounds right into the water.  
  3. Set your burner on medium-high until coffee comes to a boil.  
  4. Stir occasionally to avoid burnt grounds.  
  5. Boil coffee uncovered for 2 minutes.  
  6. Remove coffee from the stove and allow grounds to settle to the bottom of the pan.  
  7. Using a ladle, scoop brewed coffee into a mug while avoiding the coffee grounds. 

A man holding a small strainer to separate the grounds out of the coffee using the strainer method.[Photo Credit: Jordane Mathieu]

The Strainer Method

No filters? No problem! If you have a strainer, preferably with small holes to avoid grounds getting in your cup, get ready for a cup of joe.

Brewing Tools:

  • Coffee grounds
  • Water
  • Kettle or saucepan
  • Mesh strainer (small and conical is ideal)
  • Mug

Brewing Instructions:

  1. Measure out your water in correlation to the number of cups you wish to make and pour into your kettle or saucepan. 
  2. Stir in the correct amount of coffee grounds to match the number of cups you’re brewing. 
  3. Bring water to a boil and keep it boiling for 2 minutes.  
  4. Remove saucepan from heat.  
  5. Hold strainer above mug and pour the coffee through it.  
  6. The strainer will catch the grounds as the coffee fills your mug.

A man pushing down on a silver French Press using Death Wish Coffee.

The Fake French Press Method

Fake it till you make it with this one. If you need rich, strong coffee that’s almost as powerful as espresso, then this method is for you.  

Brewing Tools: 

  • Coffee grounds  
  • Water  
  • Small saucepan  
  • Spoon  
  • Bowl 
  • Mug   

Brewing Instructions: 

  1. Put 1-2 tablespoons of coffee grounds into a bowl. 
  2. Boil water on stovetop. 
  3. Pour a small amount of boiling water onto the coffee grounds, making sure they are saturated. Let sit for 30 seconds to 1 minute.  
  4. Add the appropriate amount of hot water for the servings of grounds in your bowl and let it sit for 4-5 minutes. 
  5. Once the grounds have settled, press down on the coffee grounds with the back of a spoon until most of the water has been separated from the grounds.  
  6. Pour coffee into a mug using the spoon to keep the pressed grounds in the bottom of the bowl. 

 A man using the pour over method pouring hot water into a Chemex with two yellow mugs and a female waiting for the coffee.

The Hanky Panky Method

This method dates back to 1908 when Melitta Bentz invented the coffee filter by using paper ripped from her son’s notebook. You can really get creative, depending on what filter-like materials you have available. Picture it like a Chemex or manual pour over—but a little scrappier. 

Brewing Tools: 

  • Coffee grounds 
  • Water 
  • Pot or saucepan 
  • Paper clips or elastics  
  • Paper filter or a fine mesh strong enough to withstand the temperature of boiling water. Some ideas: cheesecloth, kitchen towel, paper towel, cloth hanky or even *cringe* a clean face mask. 

Brewing Instructions: 

  1. Fold filter into a square to fit over your coffee mug with a couple inches hanging over the edges of your mug. 
  2. Use paper clips or elastic to secure the filter to the top of the mug. 
  3. Place coffee grounds into the filter and distribute evenly. 
  4. Boil water and let it rest for 20 seconds. 
  5. Pour just enough water onto the grounds to wet them and wait 30-45 seconds while the coffee starts to bloom. 
  6. Slowly pour the water in 3-4 pours into the filter and enjoy some hanky panky coffee. 

A woman sitting on the kitchen counter drinking coffee next to the microwave.[Photo Credit: Blake Cheek via Unsplash]

The Microwave Method

No drip machine, no stovetop, no coffee bag, no time to be wasted? No problem. As long as you have a working microwave, you can have coffee in a zap

Brewing Tools: 

  • Coffee grounds 
  • Water 
  • Microwave 
  • Mug 

Brewing Instructions: 

  1. Fill mug with water and zap it in the microwave for 2 minutes until water is hot—not boiling. 
  2. Stir in a tablespoon of coffee grounds and enjoy the sizzle. 
  3. Allow the grounds to settle in the bottom of your mug for about 4 minutes. 
  4. Enjoy your coffee and be sure to avoid the grounds at the bottom of the mug. 

If the thought of going without coffee in the morning makes you want to catapult your favorite mug across the room, it may be a good idea to keep a few things on hand for emergencies. Wipe your tears and embrace your inner cowboy. This isn’t just your morning coffee—this is survival.  

RELATED:  What is Turkish Sand Coffee and How to Make it 

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