How to make coffee without a coffee maker – 5 failsafe hacks

Must have a real coffee and don’t have a machine? Use our hacks, learn how to make coffee without a coffee maker and never miss out again

how to make coffee without a coffee machine
(Image credit: Annie Spratt on Unsplash)

Coffee lovers we feel your pain! Maybe your regular but brilliant coffee machine has gone kaput. Perhaps you’re away from home, and the kitchen there isn’t equipped with a machine. It could be that you’re in the great outdoors without an electrical connection to help you brew up. Whatever the issue, if you’re a java fan, being without a coffee machine is a serious issue. But not to worry as we are going to show you how to make coffee without a coffee maker...

All is definitely not lost, though, and we are here to help. It is perfectly possible to brew a great coffee without a coffee maker, and you might even find you prefer your coffee made this way.

You’ll likely have the equipment you need for these easy methods available already, so don’t panic at your coffee machine-less state. Simply scroll down to check out our great hacks and get your brew on the go. 

1. Make coffee on the stove (or even the campfire)

Got a saucepan? Got coffee? Then you’re all set for making coffee on the stove. Add around 6 ounces of water per serving of coffee to the pan, and set it over the heat on the stove. Bring the water to the boil, and once it’s there, add one to two tablespoons of coffee per serving, adjusting to suit your taste in coffee strength.  

Next, take the pan off the heat, and cover it with the lid. You’ll need to let the coffee sit for around five minutes now so that the grounds settle on the bottom of the pan.

When the time’s up, pour the coffee into a cup or cups. Go carefully so you don’t add the grounds. An alternative is to ladle it out of the pan into the cup(s). 

Camping? You can use this coffee-making method with a campfire as your heat source rather than the stove, and make like a cowboy.

2. Try a DIY French press

Fan of the French press, but stuck without one? You can improvise and get your fix with this clever hack. 

To begin, add the coffee grounds to a wide cup. You’ll need around two heaped tablespoons per cup, but you may have to experiment depending on how strong you like your coffee. Boil water and let it cool for half a minute before adding just enough to cover the coffee in the cup. Wait around half a minute, then fill up the cup with water.

Let the coffee brew for around four minutes and then pour it into a second cup, aiming to retain the grounds in the first cup. 

3. Make your own coffee bag

Let’s say your coffee machine has reached the end of its life in a sudden fashion and you haven’t yet replaced it. However, on the bright side, you do still have a supply of coffee filters. If that’s the case, you can create your own coffee bag and get brewing without the machine. 

You’ll need to put the ground coffee into the filter paper, and we’re going to suggest a couple of heaped tablespoons per cup of coffee with the usual caveat that you might need to adjust to taste. Secure the top with string (clean, naturally, and also uncoated). Put the coffee bag into the cup and add boiling water, submerging the bag. 

Leave to brew for around five minutes; you may need to leave it longer for a stronger cup of joe.

4. Improvise a pour-over 

Once again, we’re going to assume you are equipped with paper coffee filters, but are without a machine for this method. If that is the case, you can fashion your own pour-over filter. 

You’ll also need a tall vessel – a glass is good, but make sure it’s the heatproof sort if you’re going to use this hack. You’ll need to put the filter into the glass with the point downwards, then fold the filter over the circumference of the glass so you can suspend it over the glass. A rubber band around the glass will hold the filter in place. Use a knife to make a couple of tiny holes in the filter paper, add coffee, then pour over water that’s just off boiling point. 

Make circles as you add the water to wet all the coffee and add the water in stages, so you’re pouring, waiting 30 seconds, and then adding more. Once you’ve added enough water for your cup, you’re ready to serve your coffee.

5. Opt for the microwave

This isn’t the most sophisticated of coffee-making methods if you’re without a coffee machine, but using your best microwave i’s definitely worth a go if you don’t want to resort to instant (and that really doesn’t taste the same at all, does it?)

Grab your cup (which must be microwave-proof) and fill it with water and heat in the microwave until it’s not quite at boiling point. Take the cup out of the appliance and stir in a tablespoon or so of ground coffee. Leave to one side for the grounds to settle, which should take around four minutes.

And, er, that’s it. Your coffee is ready to drink. A word of warning, though: don’t drain your cup right down to the dregs if you’ve tried this hack.

Sarah Warwick
Sarah Warwick

Sarah is a freelance journalist and editor writing for websites, national newspapers, and magazines. She’s spent most of her journalistic career specialising in homes – long enough to see fridges become smart, decorating fashions embrace both minimalism and maximalism, and interiors that blur the indoor/outdoor link become a must-have. She loves testing the latest home appliances, revealing the trends in furnishings and fittings for every room, and investigating the benefits, costs and practicalities of home improvement. It's no big surprise that she likes to put what she writes about into practice, and is a serial house revamper. For, Sarah reviews coffee machines and vacuum cleaners, taking them through their paces at home to give us an honest, real life review and comparison of every model.