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How to Make Coffee without a Coffee Maker

It could happen to anyone. You wake up one morning and discover your coffee machine has gone on the blink. Sure, you can make cold brew, but who has time for that? You need coffee now.

Before you panic, read on. Here’s how to make coffee without a coffee pot.

How to make coffee without a coffee maker

Making coffee without a coffee maker isn’t as tricky or as primitive as it might sound. With a few essential kitchen items and a little bit of know-how, you can get a cup of joe that’s not only drinkable but even enjoyable. After all, the extraction method is only part of the equation (1).

Each cup of coffee has its own unique upbringing and story to tell.

Intercontinental Coffee Imports

To get the best possible taste, keep brewing best practices in mind. The peak flavor period for coffee beans – no matter how good their quality is – doesn’t last that long, so you’ll want the recently roasted stuff. You’ll also want to grind your beans just before brewing, use good quality water, and consider water and coffee ratios.

Cowboy coffee 

The cowboy method is the best to use if you want a larger amount of coffee. It is very similar to how you make tea with loose leaves.

What you need:

  • A small saucepan for brewing 
  • Fresh ground coffee – extra coarse
  • Cups for serving
  • Ladle (optional)

Start by adding cold water to a pan – either on a stovetop or campfire. Bring the water to a boil, then stir in your coffee and remove from the heat, covering immediately. After 4-5 minutes, the grounds should have settled, and you can pour or ladle into your cups.

Pro tip: Some cowboys swear by a pinch of salt to help the coffee grounds settle.

Makeshift filter method

With this method, we aim to imitate a drip coffee maker and make a single cup.

What you need:

  • Just boiled water
  • Fresh ground coffee – medium
  • A mug
  • A paper coffee filter or improvised filter (see more below)
  • Sturdy clips, pegs, or elastic bands

If you have paper coffee filters, that’s great; otherwise, you can use a folded paper towel, a handkerchief, a fine-mesh strainer, or even a sock! 

Clip your makeshift filter to the rim of the coffee cup so it hangs down in the center to form a pouch and add the grounds. Pour a small amount of hot (not boiling) water over the grounds and allow them to bloom for 30 seconds. Then use the kettle to slowly pour the rest of the water in several batches, letting it drip through the filter before adding more. Once all the water has come through, remove your filter and enjoy!

Pro tip: If you have a reusable tea bag, this would be the easiest, cleanest option. However, as you’re supposed to brew it in the cup, the bag method is more immersion than filter coffee.
Coffee filter substitutes

Faux French press

French press coffee is easiest to replicate without coffee makers, as it’s already a straightforward coffee brewing method. You just need a way of separating the used grounds from the coffee.

What you need:

  • Just boiled water
  • Fresh ground coffee – coarse 
  • 2 mugs – one for brewing, one for serving

Add your grounds to a coffee mug or heat-proof jug and pour in a small amount of hot (not boiling) water. Once the grounds have been allowed to bloom for 30 seconds, add the remaining hot water and leave to steep. After four minutes, pour the coffee into the serving cup, leaving the grounds behind.

Pro tip: Pre-warming both mugs will keep your coffee hotter for longer.

Final Thoughts

We’re not saying you should swap out your coffee machines for a saucepan or a handkerchief. But knowing how to brew coffee without a coffee maker is a very useful skill to have in an emergency. And along with new ways to make coffee, you’ll learn more about the extraction process.


You cannot use coffee grounds as instant coffee. Coffee grounds will not dissolve the way coffee granules do, and they require more time and heat for the coffee to be extracted (2).

You make coffee in the microwave by first heating the water, then adding grounds, and allowing it to sit for four minutes before drinking. But please, try one of the methods above before you resort to this.

A coffee bag is an individual portion of ground coffee packaged in a paper filter bag. It’s made for you to steep it in hot water, exactly like a teabag. 

  1. 9 Factors that Affect Coffee Taste. The Prima Donna Life by De’Longhi. (2020, August 19). Retrieved from
  2. Iftikhar, K. (n.d.). InstantCoffee vs. Ground Coffee – Which is Best? Cafe Altura. Retrieved from

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