Is It Possible To Brew Coffee Without A Coffee Maker?

Close your eyes and imagine for a second a caffeine lover's worst-case scenario: You've woken up and have ambled over to the kitchen for your morning coffee ritual. But somehow during the night, the unthinkable has happened — your coffee maker has broken. Perhaps the cat has knocked over the French press, shattering it into pieces, or your Keurig coffee maker has mysteriously started malfunctioning. Maybe your aeropress plunger has gone missing. Either way, you've suddenly been stripped of your usual way of making coffee.

You've only got coffee grounds and an axe to grind with the world since you haven't had your daily cup of joe — yet. It's early, and the coffee shops around you are closed. The smell of the coffee grounds alone is enough to make you start salivating. Fortunately, there are ways to brewing coffee without a coffee maker for the most desperate. Here are a few ways to make coffee with limited means.

Filter coffee on the fly

If you are lucky enough to have disposable coffee filters handy (and if you haven't used all of them as cake liners), you can turn the paper into a makeshift coffee bag. Borrowing from the tea bag concept, the coffee bag steeps in hot water as tea leaves are swapped out for coffee grounds. You can take your coffee grounds and pour them into the filter before tying the top closed with a rubber band, elastic, or even a piece of string you have on hand. Then, with your newly-fashioned coffee bag, all you have to do is steep the bag in hot water to the strength of your liking.

For those without coffee filters but a cheesecloth stock in their pantry, along with time and a taste for cold brew, you can dump coffee grounds and water into a cheesecloth nestled inside a pitcher. This method isn't instantaneous, but it works.

Make cowboy coffee, no coffee maker needed

Cowboy coffee isn't for the faint of heart — it's for more rustic and dire situations in which you've found yourself at a campsite without a portable coffee maker. Perhaps you're even lost in the woods, with only coffee grounds, a pot of water, and a fire-starting kit in your possession. In that case, cowboy method is used as a last resort. Just throw your coffee grounds into the pot of water and bring it to a boil over your campfire. As the pot comes to a boil, the grounds should float to the top. Lower the heat exposure if possible, then let the coffee sit for a bit longer over the flames. Remove from heat and then add cold water to the pot to help settle the grounds. To serve, pour the coffee and try to avoid pouring in the grounds.

Note of warning: This method does not guarantee delicious or even good coffee. But it will, at the very least, make something that resembles coffee.

Make a French press from a bowl or wire hanger

The benefit of a French press lies in its design that provides for fully immersive brewing and a metal mesh filter, which results in a full body, viscous brew with nice texture. Even if your French press has broken, there are two ways to make a makeshift French press on the spot.

The first method involves a tall and cylindrical glass or mug, wire hanger, and coffee filter. You have to contort the wire hanger to resemble a rudimentary metal mesh filter, and then use that with a coffee filter to push down your hot water and coffee grounds after they stew. If you don't have any wire hangers, nor the patience to bend wire early in the morning, you can add coffee grounds to a bowl, pour boiling water over it, let it stand for five minutes, and then carefully pour the water back into your coffee cup of choice.

The Rachael Ray no-coffee maker method

Last, but not least, there's the no coffee maker coffee by a celebrity chef method, specifically Rachael Ray. Her method — as demonstrated by a guest on her "Rachel Ray Show" — is no frills, no fuss, and for those who don't even have coffee filters at their disposal. All you need is two pots and a ladle — one to boil water in and the other for your coffee grounds. Once the water is boiled, you pour it into the other pot and let the coffee sit. The grounds will sink to the bottom of the pot, and then you take your ladle to serve yourself up some coffee to start the day.

Technically, this is a variation of the cowboy coffee method, minus the campfire. At the end of a potentially very long morning, you'll have coffee, and if you have a milk frother, that can turn a cup of bad coffee into an okay latte.