9 Easy Ways How to make coffee without a coffee maker

Nearly half of Americans use a drip coffee maker to get their daily dose of caffeine. But what happens if you stumble into the kitchen, press start on your machine, and nothing happens? Or you show up at your campsite and there is no coffee maker in sight?

Don’t panic. Using a little ingenuity, we will teach you how to make coffee without a coffee maker.

I spent an entire evening after work brewing the methods below. My journey claimed an entire bag of coffee, several pots of water, and a single egg (we’ll get to that later). 

Grab a bag of your favorite coffee beans and a few other items around your kitchen, and let’s get caffeinated!

Cowboy Coffee

Like its distant cousin, Swedish kokekaffee, this rustic technique creates full-bodied coffee with minimal effort. There is no limit to the amount of coffee you can brew, making it great for feeding a posse around the campsite or fueling a block party.

What You’ll Need

  • Water
  • Coffee (medium grind)
  • Rustic Kettle or Saucepan
  • Measuring Cup
  • Spoon for Stirring
  • Ladle or Strainer for dispersing

How to Brew

  1. Measure out your water. Add 350 ml of water and 20 grams of ground coffee for each mug you intend to fill.
  2. Pour water into a kettle (or saucepan) and add your coffee ground.
  3. Place it over a heating source and get it boiling. If your container is shallow, keep an extra eye on it because it will bubble up and can boil over. You can lower the heat a bit if necessary to control the boiling.
  4. After boiling for 45 seconds, stir the pot with a spoon. Scrape the edges to dislodge any coffee grounds stuck there and get them back into the water.
  5. Let the coffee boil for two minutes, then take it off the heating source.
  6. Allow the coffee to rest an additional four more minutes. The grounds will sink to the bottom. Cowboys would sometimes add a small amount of cold water to the kettle at this point to help settle the grounds.
  7. Slowly pour the coffee into your mug, avoiding grounds as much as possible. You could also use a ladle to serve the coffee to fellow campers. The coffee in your mug will be a little murky but the flavor is undeniable. Alternatively, you can pour the coffee through a filter if you want to avoid the grounds entirely (this will change the coffee texture). Enjoy your coffee and try to keep the yeehaw’s to yourself.

Turkish Coffee

This method may not be 100% traditional but it will still prepare a delightfully sweet cup of coffee. Turkish coffee is usually made a single cup at a time like espresso.

What You’ll Need

  • Water
  • Coffee (fine grind)
  • Very Small Pot (or a Cezve)
  • Measuring Cup
  • Spoon
  • Espresso Cup (optional)

How to Brew

  1. Measure about 150 ml of water using your measuring cup. An espresso cup is around 80 ml, so you can also fill that up twice to get close.
  2. Add the water to a small pot over medium heat.
  3. Pour about 12 grams of finely ground coffee beans into the small pot.
  4. Now is the time to add sugar. Around 17 grams (or two spoonfuls) is the preferred amount. Add more or less sugar for your desired level of sweetness. Do not stir the sugar at this point.
  5. When the water heats up, and the grounds begins to sink, stir the mixture together and lower the heat. Do not lower the heat too much or the coffee won’t foam. Let the brew simmer without ever coming to a boil.
  6. After a while, a foam will begin to form on the top. The foam will get thicker and cool. When it cools, pour the top portion into your cup. Put the pot back on the heat and repeat the process two to three more times until you have poured out all the coffee. This will take some time so be patient.
  7. Once you pour the last bit of coffee into your cup let it sit for a minute to allow the grounds to settle. The coffee may be a little thicker than your normal brew. Give it a sip and enjoy!

Handkerchief Method

If you have used a Chemex brewer then this process will be familiar. Not only is this method easy, but it’s also great if you want to avoid coffee grounds. Bonus, it is eco-friendly.

What You’ll Need

  • Water
  • Coffee (medium grind)
  • Wide mouth coffee mug (or a camping canteen)
  • Handkerchief or other clean linen
  • Measuring Cup
  • Clothespins or binder clips (at least three)

How to Brew

  1. Lay the handkerchief across the top of your mug. Press down lightly to create a pocket to hold the coffee grounds.
  2. Using the clothespins, secure the cloth in place. If the opening to your mug is not wide enough this will be difficult.
  3. Add a single serving of coffee grounds into the handkerchief (around 20 grams).
  4. Pour a small amount of hot water over the grounds and let them soak them for about 45 seconds.
  5. Slowly add the remaining water. Pour the water equally over all the grounds. A circular method works best to get an even extraction. In total, you should pour around 320 ml of water for a single serving.
  6. Carefully remove the handkerchief making sure not to spill any grounds (easier said than done). Enjoy your brew!

Faux French Press

This method will replicate the process patented in 1928 Italy by Attilio Calimani and Giulio Moneta. Our method doesn’t require any fancy equipment but still creates a great cup of coffee.

What You’ll Need

  • Water
  • Coffee (medium grind)
  • Mug
  • Measuring bowl with spout

How to Brew

  1. Pour your coffee grounds into the bottom of a bowl (20 grams per serving).
  2. Pour enough water into the bowl to saturate the grounds but not have them float around. Let the grounds soak for about 45 seconds to bloom.
  3. Add the rest of the water to the bowl (for a total of 320 ml per serving) and let it brew for about four minutes.
  4. Use the tablespoon to gently press the grounds to the bottom of the bowl. This will act as the plunger in our method. Let it rest for another 30 seconds as the remaining grounds settle.
  5. Slowly pour the coffee into your mug. Use the spoon to help hold the grounds to the bottom of the bowl. Our method may be faux but the coffee is real. Enjoy!

Microwave Method

This method requires a little electricity to get your brew going. So it won’t be helpful while out camping or during a power outage, sorry. Fortunately, it’s almost as easy as instant coffee but with greatly improved flavor.

What You’ll Need

  • Water
  • Coffee (medium grind)
  • Microwave (obvious)
  • Mug

How to Brew

  1. Fill a mug with water (320 ml for a single serving) and pop it in the microwave for about two and half minutes. Long enough to get it hot but not boiling.
  2. Take it out, stir in your coffee (about 20 grams). The grounds will make a sizzling sound when they hit the water.
  3. Let the brew steep for about four minutes. During that time the grounds will gradually settle to the bottom of the mug
  4. Your cuppa joe is ready. Enjoy every sip, except the last (unless you like to chew your coffee).

Swedish Egg Coffee

Also called Scandinavian Egg Coffee. In this process, the egg is used to absorbs the tannins and other impurities that create bitterness. Brought into the United States’ Midwest by Scandinavian immigrants during the mid-1800s, the brew earned the nickname “church basement coffee” because it is an easy way of boiling massive quantities of smooth coffee.

What You’ll Need

  • Water (Room Temperature)
  • Water (Ice Cold)
  • Coffee (medium grind)
  • Egg (very important)
  • Mug
  • Cup or small bowl
  • Saucepan or large pot (depending on brew size)

How to Brew

  1. Crack an egg into a bowl. The shell is optional but encouraged if you want the full experience.
  2. Add your serving of coffee to the same bowl as the egg. Each serving of coffee should be about 20 grams. A single egg can smooth out up to 200 mg of coffee grounds
  3. Mix the coffee and egg together to create a brown slurry that will resemble brownie batter (please refrain from eating this).
  4. Pour the room temperature water (350 grams per serving) into a pot and bring to a boil.
  5. Once the water starts to boil, add the brownie batter egg-coffee slurry and let it brew for 3-5 minutes.
  6. Take your coffee off the heat. The egg-slurry should now be large floating chunks. Pour in ice-cold water to settle the chunks. The amount of cold water should only be a fraction of the amount of water you used to make the brew. If you made a full 10 servings, then use 200 ml of water. This will help settle the chunks to the bottom.
  7. Slowly pour the coffee when serving to avoid any chunks falling into your mug (yes, I know that sounds gross but it’s ok). A spoon can be used to help hold the chunks down. The batch will be a light amber color with an extra smooth finish. If you decide to make another batch for Saturday brunch we wouldn’t blame you.

Cold Brew

As long as you don’t need caffeine now, or today for that matter, then this method is a great way to brew coffee. Bonus, you can make a large batch and drink for days before repeating the process.

What You’ll Need

  • Water
  • Coffee (coarse grind)
  • Two large mason jars
  • Clean linen or handkerchief (for filtering)
  • Refrigerator
  • 12-24 hours worth of patience (not sold in stores)

How to Brew

  1. Add your desired amount of grounds to a jar and pour enough water to saturate them. Let the mixture sit for 45 seconds. Concentrated cold brew methods use a 1:5 ratio of coffee grounds to water. This means 10 servings will require 200 grams of coffee grounds for 1000 ml of water.
  2. Add the rest of your water, then use a spoon to stir it together. You could also put on a lid and gently shake to get everything mixed together.
  3. Place the coffee in your fridge and wait 12-24 hours. The longer it brews, the stronger the coffee. Now is a great time to binge that show you’ve been waiting to see as a distraction from your lack of coffee.
  4. When the wait is over, place a clean linen over the second mason jar. Press down slightly on the cloth to create an indention. Use clothespins to secure the cloth in place.
  5. Carefully pour into the second jar. The makeshift filter will remove the grounds.
  6. The concentrated cold brew will keep in the fridge for about a week. When serving, either add water to dilute the concentration or add some milk (my preferred option). Finally, add some simple syrup to create the perfect summertime treat.

Coffee Bag

If you drink tea then you will be familiar with this brewing method. Make sure not to confuse this method with coffee tea. While both are delicious, the other will not get you the dark and bitter brew you desire.

What You’ll Need

  • Water
  • Coffee (medium grind)
  • Paper coffee filter
  • String
  • Mug

How to Brew

  1. Take a single serving of coffee (around 20 grams) and scoop it into a paper filter.
  2. Close the filter, creating a pouch for the coffee grounds.
  3. Gently twist the filter and tie it shut with some string. Leave extra string at the end to hang outside of your coffee mug, just like a standard teabag. Cut off any extra filter paper.
  4. Place the coffee bag into your mug and pour in the hot water.
  5. Let the brew steep for four minutes before removing the bag. Enjoy this simple, yet effective, coffee technique.

Cupping Method

This is the most basic way to brew a cup of joe. It’s no surprise this is what the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) uses to evaluate coffee roasts. If you have a little extra time and patience, now could be a good time to practice cupping. Cupping requires at least two separate types of coffee grounds.

What You’ll Need

  • Water
  • Coffee (medium grind)
  • Spoon
  • Mug or small bowl

How to Brew

  1. Place the coffee grounds down into the bowl, then pour your hot water (a minute off the boil) over the grounds to fill your mug. The official Specialty Coffee Association ratio is 8.25 grams of coffee to 150 ml of water. That’s about one spoonful of coffee grounds into a cappuccino sized cup. For a normal serving of coffee, double these portions.
  2. A thick crust will form during the brewing process. After waiting four minutes, use a spoon to break the crust and gently stir the coffee.
  3. A light brown foam will remain on the surface (do not drink this). The foam has a harsh, dry taste. Use your spoon to gently skim the foam off the top. Enjoy your brew, just watch out for the grounds at the bottom.

Final Thoughts

With so many alternative brewing methods, there is no reason to worry about missing your daily cup of java. Personally, I found cowboy coffee to be my favorite preparation method from the list above. It had a bold flavor and was easy to brew. Getting to wear chaps was just a bonus.

About the Author Kris Silvey

About the Author Kris Silvey

As a semi-professional at-home barista and full-time software engineer, my love for coffee borders on obsession. By combining my passion for coffee with an engineering mindset, I strive to perfect my brewing process and share that knowledge with each of you.

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