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How to Make Coffee Without a Coffee Maker

Whether you’re just satisfying some curiosity or you’re about to go camping sans electricity, knowing how to make coffee without a coffee maker is a useful skill to have.

Good java isn’t limited to cafes and coffee machines. You may think it’s beyond your capabilities, but it can be surprisingly simple. If there’s ground coffee on hand, all other necessary supplies can be improvised.

Using ordinary items that you likely already have on hand, brewing coffee through unconventional means can produce a pretty decent cup of joe. The next time there’s a power outage or you arrive at that hotel and realize you’ve forgotten your coffee maker, don’t panic. Work with what’s available to brew that hot liquid goodness.

Here’s what’s coming up in this article:

Why Wouldn’t You Use a Coffee Maker?

For some people, the very idea of brewing coffee without a coffee maker is puzzling. That’s what coffee shops or coffee makers are for, right? So why would you even need to use something other than a coffee maker?

There are actually several reasons. Maybe you like camping, with no access to electric appliances. Perhaps you forgot to pack your portable coffee maker, one mistake you’ll almost certainly never make again.

It could be that you woke up to no electricity at home. Maybe you went to start brewing java but discovered that your beloved coffee maker was dead in the water. Or you’re just interested in trying something new and experimenting with other ways to make your favorite caffeinated beverage. Whatever your reason, there are options.

How To Make Coffee At Home Without Machine

Methods of Brewing Without a Coffee Maker

So you’ve made peace with the idea that you might have to use an alternative means of brewing java. Fortunately, there are many good options, although some are easier than others. We’ll explain several methods, supplies you’ll need, and steps involved, so you’ll know how to use ground coffee in the best way.

Stovetop Coffee

This is the most basic method for brewing java. Combine hot water with coffee grounds, and even if you’ve found yourself in an emergency situation with no coffee maker, you’ll be able to handle this method. Learning how to make coffee on the stove may be one of the easiest alternative ways of brewing.

What You’ll Need for Making Stovetop Coffee

  • Stovetop or other heat source
  • 1-2 tbsp ground coffee
  • 8 oz water
  • Small pot or saucepan
  • Coffee mug
  • Spoon or stir stick
  • Ladle

How to Make Coffee on a Stove

Step 1: Pour 8 ounces of water into a small pot or saucepan. Some will evaporate as the water boils, leaving you with about 6 ounces.

Step 2: Add ground coffee to the water and stir. More grounds will make your beverage stronger, less will make it weaker.

Step 3: Turn a burner on medium-high heat and bring that mixture to a boil. Stir occasionally so it won’t stick or burn.

Step 4: Let the mixture boil for 2 minutes, then turn the burner off.

Step 5: Remove your pan from its burner and let it sit for 4 minutes. Most grounds will settle in the pan’s bottom.

Step 6: Using a small ladle, scoop brewed coffee into your cup, ensuring sure you avoid those grounds. If you don’t have a ladle, just carefully pour that beverage into your mug. Avoid pouring the grounds into your cup.

Step 7: Add sugar or cream to your preference and enjoy!

Coffee Bag Method

The coffee bag method is only slightly more complicated than the stovetop method. It’s very similar to brewing tea with tea bags.

Things You’ll Need for the Coffee Bag Method

  • 6 ounces hot water, just shy of boiling temperature
  • 1-2 tablespoons ground coffee
  • Paper coffee filter
  • Unwaxed string
  • Mug or cup

How to Brew Coffee Without a Coffee Maker, Using the Coffee Bag Method

Step 1: Place the ground coffee on a paper filter.

Step 2: Close the filter tightly around it, forming a small pouch, and tie with string. Leave one end of that string long enough that it can hang over your cup.

Step 3: Heat your water, using a stove, kettle, or microwave.

Step 4: Put your filled pouch in an empty mug, leaving the longer string dangling out of your cup.

Step 5: Slowly pour hot water into the cup over the filter pouch and let it steep for about 4 minutes. Less if you want a weaker beverage, more time if you prefer it stronger.

Step 6: Remove the filter and drink up!

Homemade Coffee Filter

Handkerchief Method

Similar to the coffee bag method of brewing, the handkerchief method also resembles pour-over brewing. However, you don’t need a standard paper filter.

Supplies You’ll Need for Brewing with the Handkerchief Method

  • 6 ounces of hot water, just below boiling temperature
  • 1-2 tablespoons of ground coffee
  • Paper clips, clothespins, or other clips
  • Clean handkerchief or other clean, light cloth
  • Coffee mug

Instructions for the Handkerchief Method — How to Make Coffee Without Coffee Makers

Step 1: Cover your empty mug with the handkerchief and then press down its center to form a pouch.

Step 2: Hold the cloth in place with at least 3 clips, so it doesn’t fall into your cup.

Step 3: Add ground coffee to the pouch.

Step 4: Using hot water, pour a little over the grounds, enough to get them completely wet, then wait about 30 seconds.

Step 5: Slowly pour the rest of the hot water over the ground coffee.

Step 6: Remove the clips, handkerchief, and grounds, and your java will beready to drink.

Strainer Coffee

Strainer coffee is also relatively simple. The key with this method of brewing is to make sure that your strainer has very tiny holes, so it catches all the coffee grounds.

What You’ll Need for Strainer Coffee

  • 1-2 tablespoons ground coffee
  • 6-8 ounces water
  • Stovetop or other source for heating water
  • Small pot, saucepan, or kettle
  • Fine mesh strainer
  • Coffee mug

How to Make Filter Coffee Without Machines, Step by Step

Step 1: Pour the water into your saucepan or kettle. Use slightly more than however much beverage you plan on drinking, as some will evaporate.

Step 2: Add the ground coffee to your water and stir.

Step 3: Bring that coffee mixture to a boil and let it boil for approximately 2 minutes.

Step 4: Remove the pan or kettle from heat.

Step 5: While holding a strainer above your cup, pour coffee through the strainer. This way, the strainer will catch all grounds, so your beverage will be ready to drink immediately.

Like a French Press, But Not

This method is modeled after the French press. Full immersion lets coffee steep, but there’s no additional step of pressing down on those coffee grounds.

Items You’ll Need for Brewing

  • 1-2 tablespoons coarsely ground coffee
  • 6 ounces hot water, near boiling temperature
  • 2 coffee mugs, one for brewing, another for drinking
  • One tablespoon

How to Fake French Press Coffee

Step 1: Put your ground coffee in the first mug.

Step 2: Pour a little water into the first mug, just enough that it saturates those grounds, and wait about 30 seconds.

Step 3: Slowly pour the rest of the hot water into that first mug, then let it steep for 4 minutes.

Step 4: After coffee grounds have settled at the mug’s bottom, gently press them down with a tablespoon.

Step 5: Carefully pour the liquid into the second mug, using your tablespoon to keep grounds from falling into the second mug. Dispose of those grounds and enjoy your beverage.

What Is Cowboy Coffee

How to Make Coffee Without a Machine — Cowboy Coffee

Most people have heard about cowboy coffee, even if they’ve never drunk it. This is a very old, rustic method of making java over a campfire, but you can do the same thing with any stovetop. In fact, some people swear that this may be the best way to make coffee without a machine.

Everything You’ll Need for Cowboy Coffee

  • 2 tablespoons of ground coffee
  • 8 ounces of water
  • Small pot or kettle
  • Spoon or stirring utensil
  • Coffee cup

Step by Step Instructions for Making Cowboy Coffee

Step 1: Add ground coffee to a pot or kettle, then add about 8 ounces of water, and stir gently.

Step 2: Place the kettle or pot over the fire or on medium-high heat on your stove.

Step 3: Bring that coffee mixture to a boil. Let it boil for about 2 minutes, then remove from heat.

Step 4: Wait about four minutes so the grounds can sink to the bottom of your kettle or pot.

Step 5: Slowly pour the liquid into your mug. Expect to find some grit in your cup.

Alternatively, you can boil water first and then add ground coffee.

Step 1: Once the water reaches boiling, remove it from heat and let it sit for about 30 seconds.

Step 2: Stir the ground coffee into the water.

Step 3: Let that mixture settle for about 2 minutes, then stir again.

Step 4: Again, let the beverage settle again for another 2 minutes, and then it’s ready to pour into your cup.

Microwave Coffee

Microwave coffee is almost exactly like stovetop coffee, except you’re using a microwave. Obviously, the microwave version will produce your cup of joe more quickly, though. It’s also a given that electricity is a requirement for this method!

What You’ll Need Before Learning How to Make Coffee in Microwaves

  • Microwave
  • 1-2 tablespoons ground coffee
  • 6 ounces of water
  • Cup or mug

How to Make Coffee in the Microwave, Step by Step

Step 1: Pour water into the mug, then microwave it on high for about two minutes. Make sure your mug is microwave-safe! The water should be very hot, but not quite boiling temperature.

Step 2: Add the ground coffee. You’ll probably hear a sizzling noise as you add it.

Step 3: Let your mug sit for about 4 minutes, to let grounds settle near the bottom.

Step 4: Your java’s ready to drink, but you’ll want to avoid that last sip, so you don’t get a mouthful of coffee grounds.

Swedish Egg Coffee

Yes, you can use eggs for making coffee! Who knew? Don’t worry, your cup of joe won’t taste like eggs. In fact, this method can create a wonderfully smooth, flavorful beverage. It may be one of the more adventurous ways to learn how to make black coffee at home without machines.

Items You’ll Need for Swedish Egg Coffee

  • One fresh egg (or more, if you’re brewing more than one cup)
  • 2 tablespoons ground coffee
  • 6-8 ounces water at room temperature
  • 6-8 ounces of ice cold water
  • Saucepan
  • Small bowl
  • Coffee cup
  • Cloth or mesh filter

Step by Step Instructions for Swedish Egg Coffee

Step 1: In your saucepan, boil the room-temperature water.

Step 2: While your water is heating up, crack the egg into a bowl. Put all of the egg in there, including shell pieces. Crush the egg and stir.

Step 3: Add the ground coffee in with the egg, then stir well.

Step 4: When the water starts boiling, add your egg/coffee slurry to the saucepan. Let that mix heat and then boil for 3-5 minutes.

Step 5: The slurry will clump together, then float to the top. Add the ice-cold water, remove from heat, and let it settle for about 1 minute. Most grounds will settle at the pan’s bottom.

Step 6: Filter the coffee through a cloth or strainer and pour into your mug.

Brewing Coffee Without Coffee Maker

Cold Brew

As a quick disclaimer, cold brew coffee isn’t a great choice for an emergency caffeine supply. It requires some planning ahead and several hours so the coffee can steep properly. However, it’s delicious and is a great example of how to make coffee without coffee machines. These instructions are for developing concentrated cold brew, so water must be added when you’re ready to drink it, unless you like really, really strong java!

Supplies Needed for Making Cold Brew Coffee

  • Ground coffee — a 1:5 ratio of ground coffee to water is the recommended starting point
  • One large mason jar with lid for brewing
  • Another large mason jar to hold the filtered coffee
  • Cloth or strainer for filtering
  • Water, cold or room temperature
  • Refrigerator
  • 12-24 hours of time

Steps for Making Cold Brew Coffee

Step 1: Add ground coffee to the mason jar.

Step 2: Pour enough water into your jar to get the coffee grounds wet, wait about 30 seconds, and then pour in the rest of the water.

Step 3: Screw on its lid, then place the jar inside your refrigerator for 12-24 hours. The longer that coffee steeps, the stronger it will be.

Step 4: Once that time is up, use that cloth or strainer to filter the beverage as you pour it into the other mason jar.

Step 5: Pour a small amount into your cup and dilute it with cold or room temperature water until your preferred taste is reached.

Step 6: The concentrated cold brew coffee can stay in your fridge safely for 7-10 days.

Cupping Method

This method of making coffee is usually reserved for taste-testing or evaluating java. However, in a pinch, it can be used for making a full cup just to drink.

What You’ll Need for Cupping

  • Coffee cup or mug
  • 8 ounces hot water, a bit cooler than boiling temperature
  • Approximately 1 tbsp ground coffee
  • Spoon

Step by Step Instructions for Cupping

Step 1: Add the ground coffee to your cup.

Step 2: Pour hot water into the cup, over the ground coffee.

Step 3: You’ll see a crust form on top of that beverage. Wait four minutes, then gently stir the liquid to break any crust. Some brownish foam will remain, and this should be skimmed off before drinking.

Instant Coffee

Instant coffee isn’t included as a method of brewing, because there’s no real brewing process. Furthermore, some people would say that instant coffee isn’t even java at all. However, desperate times sometimes call for desperate measures. You’ll know when you’re desperate enough for instant coffee.

Also known as soluble coffee, coffee crystals, or coffee powder, instant coffee is created by freeze-drying or freeze-spraying coffee extract. Coffee extract granules are frozen and then dehydrated. The result is a fine powder that can be rehydrated with milk or water. Instant coffee can’t really be compared to regular java because the processes used for creating each are so different. However if that’s all you have on hand when life demands a cup of joe, it’ll do.

Click here to read about our top instant coffee picks.

How To Make Filter Coffee Without Machine

Alternatives to Paper Filters

Most people might assume that you can’t make coffee at all if you don’t have paper filters — not true! There are many items that can be substituted for traditional filters if needed.

Paper towels are your closest option to paper filters. You likely have some in your kitchen, and they’ll catch even the finer coffee grounds. Paper towels work well with drip coffee or pour-over. However, thinner paper towels can break when they get wet, and they may affect how your beverage tastes.

You can also use any clean, relatively thin cloth, such as a clean dish towel or cloth napkin. If you’re using them for pour-over coffee, just secure the cloth to your mug with clips. If that cloth isn’t securely fastened into place, things can get messy.

Reusable tea bags are another good option, since you can just fill the bag with coffee instead of tea. This works best with immersion brewing.

Also, a fine mesh strainer can be used instead of a filter. Just keep in mind that it may not catch all the grounds.

Some Helpful Tips

There are some tips to remember for creating the best possible java, even without a coffee maker. Use freshly ground coffee whenever possible. Beans that are ground immediately before brewing will produce a beverage that captures all the flavors inside your beans.  Coffee beans that have been recently roasted — within the last 2 weeks is best! — will also result in a better taste than older beans.

Water makes a difference, as well. Not just the temperature of your water, but the type of water. Filtered water is preferred for brewing coffee, as additives that may be found in tap water can affect how your java tastes. An ideal temperature for brewing coffee, with or without a machine, is just slightly below the boiling point. That temperature enhances flavors of the coffee beans.


While the idea of how to brew coffee without a coffee machine may seem intimidating, it’s actually fairly straightforward. There are numerous different ways you can brew java without a machine, some you’ve likely never even considered.

From brewing coffee on your stovetop or in your microwave to Swedish egg coffee, learning how to brew coffee without a machine doesn’t have to be difficult. As long as you have ground coffee available, you won’t even need to leave your kitchen for these methods.

Whether you’ve just been caught by surprise that electricity is out or you’ve realized you can’t survive camping unless there’s java, we’ve got it covered. There’s no reason anyone should have to go without coffee.

How To Brew Coffee Without A Coffee Maker

How to Make Coffee Without a Coffee Maker FAQs

How Long Does It Take to Make Coffee on the Stove?

Depending on which method you’re using and how strong you want the beverage to be, it should take about 7-10 minutes.

What Can I Substitute for a Coffee Filter?

If you don’t have paper filters, any light, clean cloth such as a dishtowel, or a strainer will suffice.

Does Putting Boiling Water on Coffee Burn It?

Yes, pouring boiling water over coffee can result in a burnt or bitter taste. It’s recommended to use water that’s slightly below the boiling point.

What Is the Correct Amount of Coffee Grounds Per Cup?

Using 1-2 tablespoons of ground coffee for each 6 ounces of water is a good starting point.

What Happens If You Don’t Filter Coffee?

The unfiltered is usually very thick and gritty, while its taste may be bitter.

Can You Pour Hot Water Over Ground Coffee?

Yes, this is typically referred to as pour-over coffee. Let a small amount of water, slightly cooler than boiling, soak the ground coffee, and then slowly pour the rest of your water over it.