Brew Coffee Without Electricity

The recent winter storms on the Northeast coast of the U.S. left tens of thousands of people without electricity, causing a serious dilemma for the confirmed coffee addict. How do you make coffee when your super-duper programmable all-automatic coffee maker doesn’t function? For some, it was a soul-shaking crisis, especially when they realized that their favorite coffee shops also – had no electricity and thus, couldn’t provide their daily coffee fix.

brew coffee without electricity with a moka pot

Lucky for me, I was raised by a grandmother who thought the electric percolator was the devil’s tool, and hated the sounds that the Mr. Coffee made first thing in the morning. “Listen to that,” she’d mutter in Italian. “It’s throwing up again.” Thanks to her serious antipathy for anything electrical, I know how to brew coffee without electricity – even, if it comes down to it, without heat, though it takes a bit longer. Here are ten different ways to brew coffee without electricity. They’ll work for you as long as you don’t require electricity to grind your coffee beans. If so, you’re on your own with a mortar and pestle, unless you happen to own an old-fashioned coffee grinder. In a pinch, a hand-cranked meat grinder will work as well.

Puerto Rican Style Coffee
Add 6-8 ounces of water to a pot for each cup of coffee. Bring the water to a boil. Add 2-3 tablespoons of ground coffee to the boiling water and stir until the foam dies down, about four minutes. Remove it from the heat and let stand for about 6 minutes. Strain through a fine cloth or wire sieve and return to the pot. Add a quarter cup of milk and sugar to taste for each cup and bring to a simmer over low heat. Stir constantly for 1 to 2 minutes, keeping it just under a boil. Pour into coffee mugs and enjoy.

Use a stovetop moka pot. If you don’t have one, you can pick one up at most supermarkets for less than $20. If you’ve never made coffee in one, check the instructions at the link above.

Make yourself a Brazilian cafezhino. It’s similar to making Puerto Rican coffee, but there’s a key difference. You add the sugar to the water and dissolve it before you add the coffee. It makes a surprising difference in the taste.

Experiment with a Turkish ibrik. Okay, you won’t be able to try this in a pinch unless you happen to have an ibrik on hand. Believe it or not, I did, having found one at a little used notions shop years and years ago when I was collecting copper. You can always try doing this with a small – very small – saucepan, but you lack the pouring spout that makes it much easier.

Use a French press. Confirmed coffee snobs swear by the French press as making the very best coffee bar none. Bodum is the name of choice for French presses, but there are many other brands on the market.

Learn how to make Ca Phe, Vietnamese coffee that is brewed in a single cup coffee filter that sits on top of your coffee cup. Again, you may have to hunt for a Vietnamese coffee filter, but it’s worth the search. Alternatively, you can order a Vietnamese single cup filter here. The coffee is indescribable.

Use a Coleman camping coffee maker. It’s designed to make coffee just like your automatic drip coffee maker on the kitchen counter – except it’s designed to be used on a Coleman stove. You do have one of those, right?

Try your hand at cold-brewing coffee. You actually don’t need a fancy-shmancy cold brewer for this, though you can buy one. All you really need is two jars with covers and a wire strainer. Put about 1/2 cup of ground coffee in one jar. Add about 1/2 cup of ground coffee. Pour in two cups of room temperature water. Stir until the mixture is nice and smooth. Cover the jar and put it in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or as long as overnight to brew. Wait. Remove the jar from the refrigerator. Pour the coffee through a wire strainer into the second jar. Rinse the strainer and the first jar. Pour the coffee back through the wire strainer into the first jar. Repeat until there are no fine grounds left in the coffee. To make the coffee, add 4 ounces of boiling water to 4 ounces of coffee concentrate. Adjust the amount of water you use to taste.

Get yourself a Melitta 640616 10C Manual Coffeemaker. They come in sizes from single cup (which is a perfect fit for your coffee mug) to a 10-cup gourmet coffee maker. If you’re feelilng really rich, you can invest in a beautiful white porcelain version of the manual coffee maker for $40, but $2.99 will get you a plastic single cup model that serves you just fine in a pinch. It also makes great coffee.

Discover the Handpresso Wild 16 Bar Hand Pump Espresso Machine handpresso demo, one of the neatest new gadgets on the market from France. It’s a nifty little hand-pumped machine that lets you make real espresso on the go – all you need is steaming hot water. Check out the nifty little video to see just how easy it is to use.

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  1. Robert says

    “Put about 1/2 cup of ground coffee in one jar. Add about 1/2 cup of ground coffee.” … what ? how much coffee ? 1/2 cup … 1 cup ??

  2. lori says

    I once found a coffee maker in a shop and now cannot find it anywhere. It was a clear plastice, non electric item, it looked like you placed a cone filter inside, added hot water, waited and then instead of a press you simply pushed a leaver and it would passively drip out the bottom into your cup. Do you know what this might be called?

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