Making Coffee Without a Coffee Maker

No coffee machine? No problem! Making coffee without a coffee maker is actually pretty easy – even if you’re trying to make espresso!

Believe it or not, it’s perfectly possible to make hot, delicious coffee with only a few tools, and you probably already have most of them in your kitchen.

The Options

There are a few options if you want hot coffee without having to invest in expensive machines. Instant coffee is familiar to most people, coffee bags are fairly new to mainstream coffee consumption, or you can try our no machine hot brew coffee method.

Instant Coffee

When I think of the easy route to hot coffee, instant coffee granules are the first thing that comes to mind. There is a small problem though, I don’t really like instant coffee! Although I will drink it, but usually only when we’re on the boat, and I don’t have too many other choices. Let’s face it, there are some nice instant coffees out there, but they just don’t cut it sometimes.

Coffee Bags

I’m sure you’ve encountered tea bags, but have you ever seen a coffee bag? I only encountered them when I started a new job – we were buying boxes of 10 Taylors of Harrogate Rich Italian Coffee Bags at Waitrose for £3.15 and only giving them to visitors. Now £0.32 for a cup of coffee seems pretty good, but Nescafe instant Coffee 100g bottle works out to £0.05 per cup! No wonder I only got nice coffee bag coffee occasionally!

If you fancy trying coffee bags here are my top tips:

  • Use almost boiling water on top of your coffee bag, leave it for 3 to 5 minutes and give it a few good squeezes with a spoon before you take the bag out
  • If you do get on with coffee bags, have a look at buying catering quantities – we now use Lyons Go-Joe bags at work (boxes of 150 for £23.99 on Amazon), which means I can drink all the coffee bags I want, for a slightly more reasonable £0.16 per cup!

Are you a coffee newbie? One serving of coffee basics coming up!

What You Need to Brew Proper Coffee Without a Machine

You do need a few bits of kit to make a coffee – but you probably already have most of them in your kitchen.

The Tools:

  • 2 Clean Jars or Mugs (no lids required)
  • A cone-shaped sieve or metal funnel
  • A kettle or pan to boil water in
  • Oven gloves to handle the Hot Jar
  • A spoon for stirring

The Ingredients

  • Ground Coffee (or coffee beans and a grinder – but if you have these you probably also have a coffee maker of some type)
  • Coffee Filter – this could be a proper paper coffee filter, or it could be a clean tea towel (without strong smells of detergent), cheesecloth, or any closely woven cloth that doesn’t contain scents or dyes.

How to Make Hot Coffee with Minimal Tools

This is a minimal tools method of making hot coffee – if you’ve got a french press, or other coffee-making devices use them, but if you don’t, here is how to make a great cup of hot coffee – fast!

  • Prepare your Coffee

    For hot coffee, add some freshly ground coffee (1-2 Tablespoons per 200ml of water to start – adjust to your taste) to your jar and wet it with just enough cold water to make the coffee grounds damp. Don’t worry about grinding them yourself – buy them already ground for the moment! Note: the works for regular coffee or decaf (Check out the most up to date info on Decaf and Health)

    Top tip: Your coffee grounds should look like damp sand – not quite wet enough to make a sandcastle.

  • Add the Hot Water

    Pour the hot water over the coffee in the jar.

    For the best hot coffee, bring the water to a boil and then let it sit for a minute – this way you avoid burning the beans.

  • Brew the Coffee

    Allow the mixture to steep for 3 – 5 minutes.

    Don’t forget, if it’s too strong we can always add a bit more hot water.

  • Filter the Coffee

    Coffee filters or wet paper taste nasty! Make sure to pre-wet them before putting your coffee through (this removes the initial wet paper flavour from your coffee and puts it down the sink instead!

    Put your pre-wetted filter in its funnel over a clean mug, and pour the coffee mixture through the filter.

    Make sure the coffee grounds are well mixed into the liquid before you pour it into the filter to avoid splashback! Also, make sure the mug is large enough to contain the coffee avoiding overspill and wastage.


Your hot brew coffee is ready! Fancy enjoying it as iced coffee?


If you find an odd flavour or odour in your coffee, here are a few things to check:

  • Have you prewetted your coffee filter? It really does make a difference (especially with a paper filter)
  • If using a cloth filter – does it have any smell from the washing tablets used? Consider hand washing in dish soap instead of machine washing – and definitely no fabric softener!
  • Does your dishwasher rinceaid leave a smell? I find mine does – but randomly I notice it in coffee but not in wine glasses (yes, I think I am a weirdo). I now handwash everything that I use for coffee – including my to-go mug for the car, because the rince aid smell ruins my coffee experience.

So, how’d it go? Let me know how you got on in the comments.

4 thoughts on “Making Coffee Without a Coffee Maker”

  1. Hi Lisa,

    Thanks for the step-by-step tutorial on making a decent coffee without a coffee maker. I admire how easy you made it and would love to try it at my place once I have all the tools. I have this issue with the smell of the filter, and now I learned from your post to prewet it before making coffee. It’s the new thing I learned today. Thanks a lot for sharing.


    1. Hi Matt,

      Go for it! Making great coffee at home really is as easy as it seems – and if you don’t have all of the kit, improvise!

      I’m glad I could solve the coffee filter smell problem – it really makes a huge difference to the taste of the coffee!

      Cheers, Lisa

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