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Here’s how to make coffee without a coffee maker! Use this method when you don’t have access to coffee making tools.

Cowboy Coffee
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Don’t have access to a coffee maker? Are you traveling, or backpacking and in need of campfire coffee? No problem, we’ve got a method that works when you don’t have your trusty coffee making tools. Here’s how to make coffee without a coffee maker! Also called Cowboy Coffee, it’s an easy way to make a cup of joe without any fancy equipment.

Want a different type of coffee? Go to How to Make Espresso without a Machine and How to Make Cold Brew.

Ingredients & tools for coffee without a maker

If you’re stranded without a coffee maker, never fear! You can make a great cup of coffee without any fancy tools. This works when you’re traveling, camping, or if you just don’t have a maker at home. All you need is some way to boil water, whether it’s an open fire or an electric tea kettle. Here are the ingredients and tools you’ll need:

  • 3 tablespoons ground coffee, medium coarse ground
  • 1 pinch salt
  • Method for boiling water: tea kettle, pot, etc.
  • Canning jar or small pot
  • Strainer or other straining method (see below)
How to make coffee without a coffee maker

What’s the salt for?

Why use salt in coffee? Using just a pinch helps to reduce bitterness of the coffee. This even works with traditional coffee methods. But it’s especially nice with this method to round out the flavor of the coffee while using a primitive coffee method.

How to make coffee without a coffee maker

Once you’ve got all your required tools, let’s make coffee without a maker! Here are the basic steps, or jump to the recipe below:

  1. Boil the water using whatever method you have access to.
  2. Allow the coffee grounds to bloom: Add the coffee and salt to a small pot, jar, or coffee mug. Add enough boiling water to just wet the grounds and let sit for 30 seconds. After 30 seconds, fill the mug with boiling water and stir.
  3. Brew the coffee: Wait 4 minutes.
  4. Strain out the grounds: We recommend using a strainer to strain the coffee into a mug. If you don’t have a strainer, dribble a bit of cold water across the top of the hot coffee, which makes the grounds sink to the bottom.
How to make coffee without a coffee maker

Coffee straining methods

If you don’t have a coffee maker, you might not have access to a strainer either. A standard trick for straining out the coffee grounds is to pour a little cold water on top to make the grounds sink to the bottom. But for us, this trick didn’t have quite the magic it promised.

  • Pouring cold water on top works, but makes a crunchy sip. Pouring a bit of cold water on the hot coffee is supposed to make the coffee grounds sink to the bottom. It does, but the resulting sip was still very crunchy. You can try this if you don’t have a strainer, but we didn’t find it to be effective. You can also wait a few minutes for the grounds to sink to the bottom.
  • Straining the coffee is the best method. Strain it right into a mug! There still may be a few floating coffee grounds, but this method gets the bulk of the grounds.

And that’s it! How to make coffee without a coffee maker. Let us know what you think of this process in the comments below!

Another method: cold brew coffee!

Another way of how to make coffee without a maker? Cold brew coffee! Cold brew coffee requires no coffee maker at all. Simply combine the grounds with cold water and refrigerate for 24 hours. It has great flavor and is perfect if you’re craving iced coffee. Go to How to Make Cold Brew Coffee.

Cold brew coffee

How to make espresso without a maker

Looking for espresso instead? There are lots of ways to make espresso without a machine! You can use a French press, Moka Pot, or Aeropress to make decent espresso. There are also great brands of manual espresso makers that work great for traveling. Go to How to Make Espresso Without a Machine.

Better ways to make coffee

Making coffee without a coffee maker is not ideal! What method do we use? The Chemex is our everyday coffee. We also use some of the following methods depending on the type of coffee:

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How to make coffee without a coffee maker

How to Make Coffee without a Coffee Maker


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5 from 3 reviews

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 1 drink 1x
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Description

Here’s how to make coffee without a coffee maker! Use this method when you don’t have access to coffee making tools.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 3 tablespoons ground coffee (medium coarse ground)
  • 1 pinch salt (optional but recommended to reduce bitterness)
  • ¾ cup (6 ounces) boiling water

Instructions

*Alternative method: You can also make Cold Brew Coffee without a coffee maker. Head to that post for instructions.

  1. Boil the water.
  2. Add the coffee and salt to a small pot, jar, or coffee mug (if not straining; see step 2). Add enough boiling water to just wet the grounds and let sit for 30 seconds. After 30 seconds, fill the mug with boiling water and stir.
  3. Wait 4 minutes.
  4. Strain out the grounds: If you don’t have a strainer, dribble a bit of cold water across the top of the hot coffee, which makes the grounds sink to the bottom*. But this works best with a strainer (or a clean sock!): use it to strain the coffee into a mug. Enjoy immediately.

Notes

*In our experience, the cold water trick doesn’t work effectively: you end up with a crunchy sip!

  • Category: Drink
  • Method: Boiled
  • Cuisine: Coffee
  • Diet: Vegan

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes and the joy of cooking! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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6 Comments

  1. Xander says:

    Awe Wow, you guys are incredible, I mean if it’s not the two of you then it’s definitely Don Frans. Anyhow look I’ve hearing about Chemex is it really any good. Pls tell if you can, was skeptical about it but I guess I’ll give a shot. Two birds one stone does that say enough.






  2. Amir Salim says:

    Very helpful for coffee lovers.

  3. Babas says:

    It was the best coffee ever❤️






    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      Yay!

  4. Johny Morrisson says:

    That’s a great way to brew simple drip coffee. I have tried the recipe.
    Loved it.

  5. Sonja Overhiser says:

    Let us know if you have any questions!