How to Brew Coffee Without a Coffee Maker


The day doesn’t start until you have that first cup of coffee. As a coffee addict, I am too reliant on my drip coffee maker for my morning cup of coffee. However, when traveling and when we’re away from home we have to pick up some skills to MacGyver our morning cup of coffee. The struggle of making your cup of coffee from just bare necessities will make your cup of coffee even sweeter.

Before all these modern coffee makers existed people have been making coffee for decades. How did they do it? Improvised coffee makers have been around longer than the Keurig machines that we have nowadays. Sure some of these methods will be janky, and the coffee may not be the best, but it will get the job done. Here are some of our favorite methods to make coffee without a coffee maker.

1. Cowboy Coffee

Good old cowboy coffee has been a favorite in the mid-western United States. Anyone who has been out camping and tried cowboy coffee over an open campfire knows the magic.

However, cowboy coffee doesn’t have to be made over an open campfire. This country favorite recipe can be adapted to the modern lifestyle and is a great alternative to making coffee in a drip coffee maker.

What you need:

  • A large kettle or coffee pot 
  • Stove / heat source to boil water
  • Medium to finely ground coffee
  • Cups so you can enjoy your cowboy coffee
  • Water

How to make Cowboy Coffee

You can make your coffee with just a large kettle for boiling water. Just fill your pot with a little more water than you usually use when making a cup of coffee. This is due to the cowboy coffee brewing method. Some water and coffee grounds will be left on the bottom of the pot.

Start boiling your water and once the water comes to a rolling boil add your ground coffee. As per cowboy tradition, eyeball the amount of ground coffee and add it in. It is roughly two tablespoons for every 6 ounces of water.

Once you add your coffee remove the pot from the heat and let it steep for four to five minutes. Keep the pot covered to conserve the heat. After a few minutes, most of the grounds will sink to the bottom and that’s how you know when your coffee is ready. All you have to do next is pour out your coffee and enjoy! 

2. Makeshift Drip Coffee / Sock Drip Coffee

Craving a cup of drip coffee, but don’t have a V60, Chemex, or coffee maker? With some everyday materials, you can make your own coffee filter and have your delicious cup of drip coffee

What you need:

  • Medium to coarsely ground coffee
  • Access to hot water
  • A handkerchief, bandanna, strainer, or sock
  • Large cup / mug
  • Tape, paperclips, rubber band, or binder clips (something to hold your makeshift filter in place)

How to make Makeshift Drip Coffee

Any piece of fabric can be used as a coffee filter for drip coffee as long as it is strong enough to withstand some water. 

To make prepare this coffee get your makeshift filter and fold it into a square that will fit into the mouth of the cup or mug. 

Then use binder clips to secure the filter onto your cup. Make sure it is sturdy enough to withstand light jostling. You will be pouring hot water over this and you do not want this to detach and spill. Spread the coffee grounds so the surface is flat and the grounds are even. 

After your cup is ready, boil two cups of water and pour a bit of the boiling water on the grounds to “bloom” the coffee, just enough to cover the grounds. This is a process to release the CO2 gasses from your coffee. Wait for about thirty seconds.

Lastly, pour the rest of the water until you’ve used the rest of your water. If you’re using a thick makeshift filter you may need to lift the grounds by stirring with a spoon. Once all the water has passed through the filter you can remove the clips and enjoy your coffee! 

3. Microwave Coffee

Have coffee, but don’t have any way to make your coffee? As long as you have a trusty microwave nearby you won’t have to worry. This is a simple way to make a cup of coffee with nothing but a microwave!

What you need:

  • Coarsely ground coffee
  • Water
  • Microwave
  • Cup or mug

How to make Microwave Coffee

To make microwave coffee start with a cup of water and microwave it for two minutes. Take out your hot water and stir in a tablespoon of coffee grounds. 

Let your coffee mingle with the water for four minutes until all the grounds settle to the bottom of the cup. 

Now you can either drink your coffee or pour it into another cup and enjoy!

4. DIY Cold Brew Coffee Method

If you are craving coffee and have a lot of time to prepare this is the method for you. You can prep this for your week and have coffee every day. This is the best for those who have time and can leave this in a fridge to brew. Cold brew coffee also has a great unique taste which will be great to change to your routine. 

What you need:

  • Coarsely ground coffee
  • Large pot or wide mouth mason jars
  • Cheesecloth, mesh strainer, or other filtration device
  • Water
  • Refrigerator
  •  1 day of patience

How to make Cold Brew Coffee at home

To make cold brew at home first you have to start with a pot full of water. Measure out a ratio of 1:5 of grounds to water and put the grounds in the water to steep. 

Stir it all together until all the grounds are incorporated into the water and put it into your fridge. This will usually take around 1 day. The minimum amount of time recommended is 14 hours. Depending on how strong you like your coffee you can go up to a day and a half. Just test and play around with the time. 

After the coffee has finished steeping you have to strain out all the coffee grounds. You can do this by using a strainer or cheesecloth to cover the top of your pot / mason jar and pouring out the cold brew coffee leaving the used grounds for disposal. 

You can keep this cold brew in your coffee for up to 10 days! All that is left now is to enjoy your DIY cold brew.

5. Home made French Press

If you want the taste of a french press coffee, but don’t have the tools give this homemade french press technique a try. French press coffee has a bold a full-bodied taste. You can replicate this at home with just simple kitchen tools.

What you need:

  • Coarsely ground coffee
  • Water
  • Mesh strainer
  • 2 Cups, mugs, or mason jars

How to make French Press at home

Take a cup and fill it with about 30 grams of your favorite coffee. Boil 450 ml of hot water and then pour in enough hot water just to cover your coffee grounds. After 30 seconds and the bubbling has stopped pour in the rest of your hot water and set a timer for 4 minutes. 

After 4 minutes, pour your coffee, grounds, and all through your strainer. It should catch all your coffee grounds and leave you with just a bold cup of french press coffee.  

How do I grind my coffee without a Coffee Grinder?

If you bought whole coffee beans instead of pre-ground coffee or you’ve gotten whole coffee beans as a birthday or Christmas present, you can still grind your coffee at home without a burr or blade coffee grinder. This is your situation here are some ways you can easily grind your coffee without the use of a grinder.

1. Mortar and Pestle

Many kitchens have a mortar and pestle for herbs and this can be used for whole coffee beans. This may be a bit difficult to get an even consistency for the grounds so you should do them a little at a time. Add a handful of beans and add more as you get them to the grind size you want. 

2. Blender

For this method just toss all your beans into a blender. You may need to add more to get a consistent grind. This will be similar to using a blade grinder and you will be left with inconsistent grind size. Learn more about how to get a consistent grind size using a burr grinder. Use a pulse setting until you get the grind size you want.

3. Hammer & Cloth

For this last method, all you need is a hammer and a bag or cloth to put your beans in. Just put all the whole beans into a cloth and fold it over so all the beans cannot escape. If you are using a bag just put all the beans into your bag and put it in between some towels. Use a meat tenderizing mallet or hammer to crush the beans. You will probably be left with a coarse grind size by the time you are done hammering the beans.


If you are trying to make coffee at home you can try to use any of these methods. The greatness of coffee is you can be creative and make your coffee any way you want. This means using jank methods and even microwaves. 

Coffee purists will turn their nose to these methods, but as long as it works for you that’s all that matters. We have experiment firsthand with all these methods and you will be left with a serviceable cup of coffee. No matter what you make your coffee with, we hope you enjoy your cup of coffee!


1 thought on “How to Brew Coffee Without a Coffee Maker”

  1. good stuff and remember before the end of the civil war EVERYBODY roasted their own coffee. On brewing check out this link, they use the cloth “sock” with ground trick tool..


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