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Four Ways to Make Coffee Without a Machine

I first began to really drink coffee shortly after my youngest son was born. I had previous forays into sweet, ice-cream like frozen coffees, but never fully embraced the dark, rich flavor of this morning beverage.

And then, out of a desperate need to keep my eyes open with two children under two and the many middle-of-the-night wake-up calls that go along with it, I started regularly buying coffee when I was out and about.

I wanted to make it at home for an every-morning beverage, though. What I couldn’t do was justify adding an electric coffee maker to my already crowded kitchen counters. So I looked into the ways coffee was made before electric appliances.

Percolator. The old coffee percolator works as a stove-top coffee maker. These old-school coffee makers combine the pot, the filter, and the coffee ground-holder all in one vessel. These coffee-brewers can be found at thrift stores or garage sales, or you can invest in a new one.

French Press. Some of the best coffee I’ve ever had has come out of the French press. This little device is gaining popularity and besides being tough to clean is fairly easy to use. Just add the grounds to your carafe, cover in hot water, steep for four minutes, press slowly and you have delicious coffee. Ours is similar to this one.

Cowboy Coffee. My Dad taught me to make coffee this way. The only equipment necessary is a small pot. Simply place the coffee grounds and as much water as necessary in a small sauce pan. Stir and bring to a boil. Allow to boil for just a couple of minutes and turn off the heat. At this point the grounds should sink to the bottom and you should be able to pour the coffee off the top and into your cup, grounds-free!

Mason Jars. This is my most frequent method for making coffee now that we’re off-grid. Without a percolator and a French press that simply takes too long to wash, I use two of the many mason jars in our kitchen for making coffee. I add 3-4 tablespoons of coffee grounds to a quart jar and pour two cups of boiling water over the grounds. Cover, let steep four minutes, and strain. If you use a coarse ground coffee you can strain through a tea strainer or you can place a coffee filter over the top of another jar, fasten a canning ring over it to tighten, and pour the coffee through that.

Using one of the above methods you can eliminate the need for an electric machine and more clutter on your counter tops than you already have.

  Leave a Reply

  • I really need needed this information thank u very much but I live in Egypt and I love American coffe any ideas about how to buy good American coffe grains brands may be?

    nour February 7, 2014 AT 10:26 pm
  • we use a french press, but I don’t find that it takes long to clean…maybe 20 seconds. I just pour the grounds into a bin for compost, pour a little bit of water into the french press and swish and pour to get the rest of the remaining grounds out, then refill with fresh grounds and pour boiling water over it and press away.

    Simple Foody October 25, 2012 AT 11:37 am
  • My mom always poured a little cold water over the cowboy coffee before serving.
    That helps to settle the grounds.

    l.e. September 10, 2012 AT 7:42 am
  • There’s also the Vietnamese drip filter – great for an espresso type coffee. In Vietnam, this coffee is often drunk in a 50:50 ratio with sweetened condensed milk – too sweet for my liking but you’ve got to try it once to know!

    Mark Heyink September 5, 2012 AT 6:46 am
  • I just got back from a camping trip where we regularly use our french press. I love the thing and keep threatening to give my drip maker away and get a nice stainless double walled press. One less thing on the counter=happiness for me.

    Jessica September 4, 2012 AT 3:56 pm
  • We love the simplicity of a Chemex pour-over/drip system. I found ours at a thrift store but they are still sold commercially. We especially love that only glass touches the coffee (Other than the paper filter).

    Kimberly in So Cal September 4, 2012 AT 10:50 am
  • Check out the Aeropress! Like the French press in method but NO grounds in
    your cup and perfect for singles!

    Catrina September 4, 2012 AT 3:14 am
  • I figured out a really easy way to clean my french press for daily use. Once I’ve poured all the coffee out, I put a little water in, swish the grounds around, and dump them into my mulch bucket. Then, I run about two inches of water into the bottom of the press, put the top on, and pump the handle up and down several times. This dislodges the coffee grounds that get stuck in the mesh and scrubs down the sides of the press. I dump that water into my mulch bucket also and leave it to dry. Doing this takes only about thirty seconds, far less time than it takes me to explain it. I take the press apart every two weeks or so to thoroughly clean it, but this method works well for daily use.

    Emily Jane September 3, 2012 AT 1:58 pm
  • I have recently started a blog, the information you provide on this site has helped me tremendously. Thank you for all of your time & work.

    Reply September 2, 2012 AT 11:02 pm
  • You can make cold brewed coffee without even using hot water! I do 8oz coffee to 3quarts of water in a half gallon mason jar, let steep for 12-24hours, and strain. Very smooth flavors, mix with milk or hot water to drink :)

    AmandaLp August 28, 2012 AT 2:45 pm
    • Thanks Amanda, we are also fans of cold brewing or toddys, especially the low acidity!

      Plan to Eat August 28, 2012 AT 3:29 pm

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