How to Brew Coffee Without a Coffeemaker

How to Brew Coffee Without a Coffeemaker

Do you love coffee, but hate your electric bill? Do you wish you could brew coffee without increasing the amount of power you consume? Are you looking for a way to make coffee when you’re out camping – or did you just wake up this morning and find your trusty coffeemaker had given up the ghost overnight? Take heart! Even if you’re faced with sudden coffeemaker failure, you can still brew coffee with no special equipment at all. Here are three different ways to make coffee without a coffeemaker or any special coffee equipment. You don’t even need a heat source if you’re not in a huge rush to drink your morning joe.

Emergency Coffee Method 1 – Coffee in a Saucepan

What You Need:

  • A stove or heat source
  • A saucepan
  • Ground coffee
  • Water
  • Ladle (optional)

How to Make Coffee

  1. Measure water and coffee into a saucepan. Use a little more water than you typically would to brew a pot of coffee. Here’s one of our favorite resources for measuring coffee, but if that’s too complicated, just use 2 tablespoons of coffee for every cup of water.
  2. Bring the water and coffee to a simmer over medium high heat, stirring it frequently to keep the coffee in motion. Just before it comes to a full boil, remove the saucepan from the heat.
  3. With the coffee off the heat, stir the pot for 2 1/2 to 4 minutes, depending how strong you like your coffee.
  4. Walk away from the pot for 3 to 4 minutes. This allows the coffee grounds to sink to the bottom of the pan.
  5. Carefully pour the coffee into your cup, avoiding the last few ounces filled with grounds.
  6. Alternatively, ladle the coffee out into your cup using a clean ladle.

Suggestions: See our article How to Make Swedish Coffee
for another method of making coffee on the stove.

Emergency Coffee Method 2 – The Coffee Bag

What You Need

  • A coffee filter
  • String
  • Hot water

So there you are, ready to make your morning coffee – but the coffee maker is on the fritz. Don’t despair! If you’ve got coffee filters — and hey, of course you do! They go with your coffeemaker, right? — you can still make a reasonable cup of filtered coffee. It just takes a little ingenuity.

A note on the string: Seriously, just about any kind of string will do. In a real pinch, you can even get away with using a clean hair elastic. You just need something to hold the coffee filter closed.

How to Make Your Own Coffee Bag

  1. Put water on to boil in a kettle or saucepan, or put a cup of water in the microwave to heat.
  2. Measure two tablespoons of coffee into a clean coffee filter.
  3. Pull up the ends of the coffee filter and twist it tightly closed.
  4. Wrap string around the filter just above the coffee and tie it, leaving enough string to hang over the edge of your cup.
  5. Put the coffee filter bag into an empty cup.
  6. Slowly pour the hot water over the coffee filter bag.
  7. Let the coffee brew in your cup for about 4 minutes. If you like your coffee stronger, let it steep longer. If you like it weaker, pull the bag out sooner. If you really want to make sure you get all the flavor out of your coffee, dip the coffee bag up and down while the coffee is steeping.
  8. Remove the filter from your cup using the handy string, or scoop it out with a spoon. DO NOT SQUEEZE IT!

Suggestion: No filters? You can do the same thing with a clean tea cloth or any other clean cloth. We’ve even successfully used a brand new do-rag!

Emergency Coffee Method 3: Strain It!

Want to make a full pot of coffee, but don’t have time to fuss with stirring and ladling and gritty coffee grinds? This is one of our favorite emergency coffee making methods.

What You Need

  • A mesh strainer or sieve (a colander will do in a pinch)
  • A pitcher (pick one that you can rest the strainer on. In a pinch, use a pot and pour the coffee into a pitcher when it’s done.)
  • A clean cloth (You want one that’s thin but with a close, even weave. A large handkerchief, scarf or tea towel – not terry! – works fine. Remember – coffee is a natural dye, so don’t use something you care about. If you have cheesecloth, use at least two layers.)
  • Ground coffee
  • Boiling water
  1. Measure out enough water for a pot of coffee. (See our suggestion above for amounts.)
  2. Put the water on to boil in a kettle or saucepan.
  3. Line the strainer, sieve or colander with the cloth, making sure to bring it up over the edges.
  4. Place the strainer on top of the pitcher or whatever you’re brewing your coffee into.
  5. Measure coffee into the lined strainer.
  6. When the water boils, take it off the heat and let it sit for about one minute to let it come to optimal brewing temperature.
  7. Carefully pour the hot water over the coffee grounds. Try to wet the grounds evenly. Don’t overfill the strainer. Water will seep out the sides, so you want to try to keep the water level below the level of the pot or pitcher. It should take about 4 minutes for you to pour the water, and no more than 5 minutes for it all to drip into the pitcher.
  8. Remove the strainer. Dump the coffee grounds into the compost if you do that kind of thing, or toss them if you don’t. Rinse the cloth under cold water and set it aside to dry.
  9. Pour your coffee and enjoy!


Not So Emergency Coffee Method 4: Basic Coldbrew Coffee

So there’s no way you’re replacing that busted coffeemaker before tomorrow, but darned if you want to go all MacGyver for your morning coffee every day? A little advance planning makes it easy! Just set up coffee to cold brew today, and enjoy your coffee immediately tomorrow morning. You may like it so much you never go back!

What You Need

  • 2 covered pitchers
  • A wire strainer (see above for alternatives)
  • A clean cloth (see above again)
  • Ground coffee
  • Water
  1. Measure water and coffee into one of the pitchers.
  2. Stir the coffee into the water to make sure all the grounds are evenly wet.
  3. Cover the pitcher and put it into the refrigerator or a cool spot.
  4. Wait at least 8 hours.
  5. Line the wire strainer with the clean cloth.
  6. Place the strainer over the empty pitcher.
  7. Carefully pour the brewed coffee through the strainer to strain out the coffee grounds.
  8. Discard the grounds and rinse out the cloth.
  9. The resulting coffee is very strong and smooth, but usually far less bitter than coffee brewed with hot water. You can drink it straight if you like coffee that melts your spoon, or add hot or cold water to the coffee concentrate to taste.
  10. Store the coffee concentrate in a covered pitcher in the refrigerator for up to four days.

Suggestion: Check out our article How to Cold Brew Coffee for more methods of coldbrewing coffee.

Want even more ideas about making coffee without electricity? We’ve got you covered. Check out our 10 Ways to Make Coffee Without Electricity.

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