Electricity off? No machine at the vacation rental? Brew on.

By Karla Walsh
August 24, 2020
Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.

About 45 percent of Americans own a drip coffee maker, and another 42 percent own a single-cup brewer, with some overlap between the two camps. But what about the java fans who don't own one, don't have access to power (say, on a camping trip), or prefer to make their mug in a more classic way?

Enter these four ways to make coffee without a coffee maker. You can use a French press or pour-over coffee maker like this Chemex ($42; amazon.com), of course. However, if you don't have one and prefer not to invest in new equipment, these ways to make coffee should be doable with items you already have around the house.

Kitchen / domestic scene of a hand pouring a kettle of boiling water into mugs. Space for copy.
Credit: Catherine Falls Commercial/Getty Images

Before we get brewing, a few general coffee best practices:

  • Know your beans' birth date. By that, we mean roast date. You'll score the best homemade coffee using beans that have been roasted within two weeks.
  • Use the freshest coffee possible. Buy the beans whole and grind them to your preferred coarseness (using something like this Cuisinart Coffee Bar Coffee Grinder; $27; amazon.com) for the finest flavor.
  • Be careful with temp. The ideal temperature for water used to brew coffee is right around 200° Fahrenheit.

4 Ways to Make Coffee Without a Coffee Maker

1. Brew up a Stovetop Cup

This is an old-school, traditional way to make coffee if you're sans microwave. It will also work if you happen to be without power, as long as you have a gas range.

  • Start with six ounces of cold water per serving. Then, pour water into a small saucepan over medium-high heat.
  • Add 1 heaping tablespoon of coffee per serving to the pan. If desired, add sugar now.
  • Bring the coffee mixture to a boil.
  • Stir occasionally and allow to boil for 2 minutes.
  • Remove from heat, let sit for 4 minutes, then pour the coffee slowly and carefully from the pan so the grounds stay in the pan — and out of your cup(s).
  • Add sugar and/or cream, if desired.

2. Make Turkish Coffee

Similar to stovetop coffee but slightly more fussy, this method creates a thick, frothy, and strong brew. It's not a fully traditional method for Turkish coffee, but it's one way to get a really deep brew. Yes, the grinds should be in the cup at the end.

  • Start with 6 ounces of cold water per serving. Then pour water into a small saucepan over low heat.
  • Add 1 heaping tablespoon of coffee per serving to the pan. If desired, add sugar now.
  • When the water is just about to boil, remove it from the heat and skim off the foam. Place foam into your coffee cup(s).
  • Return the pan to the heat and watch for it to get near a boil again, then remove from heat.
  • Pour half of the coffee into your coffee cup(s).
  • Return the pan to the heat once more. Boil for 15 additional seconds, then remove from heat.
  • Pour this entire mixture into coffee cup(s). Allow to sit for 2 or 3 minutes so the coffee can sink to the bottom.

3. Try a Faux French Press

Mimic the same results you'd get with a French press coffee maker using a mug, a bowl, and a spoon.

  • Boil water in a saucepan on the stove.
  • In a deep bowl, add 1 heaping tablespoon of coffee per serving.
  • Pour a small amount of boiling water over the grounds to saturate them, and then add 6 ounces of water per serving.
  • Use a spoon to press the coffee grounds to the bottom of the bowl.
  • Pressing the spoon down on top of the grounds, pour the remaining liquid into your coffee cup(s).
  • Add sugar and/or cream, if desired.

4. Create a Coffee Bag

If you prefer less bitter coffee, stock up on coffee filters (such as If You Care Unbleached Coffee Filters, $7.19 for 100; amazon.com) for this stovetop method.

  • Lay one filter on the counter, and add 2 heaping tablespoons of coffee. (We call for more in this method to account for the filter and how much flavor can "escape.")
  • Bring the ends of the filter together and tie with twine. Imagine a tea bag-like package. Place this bag in your coffee cup.
  • In a small saucepan, bring water to a boil.
  • Saturate the bag of coffee in enough water just to soak the grounds, then let the grounds soak for 30 seconds.
  • Pour 6 ounces of water into your coffee cup.
  • Allow to steep for 4 minutes, then remove the bag.
  • Add sugar and/or cream, if desired.