How To Make Coffee On A Stove Effectively
We describe how to make coffee on a stove 10 different ways. There is no need for a fancy electric coffee maker to brew a great cup of brew.
Coffee. Second, only to water, it is one of the most widely consumed beverages in the world.
It is also second only to oil as a globally traded commodity.
Many different cultures worldwide covet their coffee drinking traditions. This is especially true when it comes to the morning ritual that helps drinkers get focused and energized for the day ahead.
Coffee has increased in popularity over the past few decades. More and more specialty coffees and cafes have become mainstream worldwide.
Coffee today can be accompanied by a variety of sweeteners, creamers, and other flavorings, such as vanilla or chocolate.
In the United States alone, people drink an average of three cups of coffee every day.
Some people prefer coffee for its numerous health benefits while others drink it for the energy kick.
Some drink it because they truly enjoy the flavor as well as the process of brewing a cup of coffee.
Most coffee consumers prefer to brew their own coffee at home. Here they can personalize the strength, sweetness, and flavors of their coffee.
They can also control the quality of the ingredients that they are using. Additionally, it is much more economical to prepare coffee at home.
Knowing how to brew coffee on a stove, or without a dedicated coffee machine can come in handy in certain times of need.
A power outage; coffee machine meltdown or simply choosing to lead a more minimalist lifestyle without an exclusive coffee machine can leave us without a cup of our favorite brew.
Instead of picking up some coffee on the go, and paying extra for the convenience, there are several alternative options available for making stovetop coffee.
Brewing Coffee Without a Coffee Maker – A Few Tips Before You Start
People have been making coffee for centuries without fancy gadgets.
Some of the simplest methods are considered to be the best ways to make a cup of coffee. You can extract the deepest flavors from the beans, in less time than it would usually take the coffee maker!
Here are a few simple guidelines to consider using before you begin brewing.
Fresh Roasted Beans
Coffee is cultivated in the tropics, and often at high altitudes. In countries such as popular Java producing Indonesia, the coffee is grown closer to sea level.
Most coffee is produced far from where it is consumed. It is best to transport the green coffee bean, and roast the bean as close as possible to the moment of consumption. This provides optimum freshness and flavor.
Green coffee beans are fairly tasteless and unappetizing in their natural state. Coffee beans acquire their signature aroma and color from the high-temperature roasting.
Different temperatures and roasting times affect the caramelization of the natural sugars in a process known as the Maillard Reaction.
Oils are also produced during the process. Like any natural fat, this oil can also go rancid which leads to an unpleasant taste in the coffee.
As a general rule, the fresher the roast, the better. The flavor and aroma will fade over time.
The recommended period for optimum flavor is within the first two weeks after roasting. Most specialty roasters will stamp their beans with the roasting date.
The shelf life of coffee beans depends on multiple factors.
Humidity, temperature, light, and exposure to air (oxidation) all play a role in the freshness of stored coffee beans. Once stale, the beans will taste woody and bland.
Freshly Ground Beans
Because ground coffee beans have unique aromas and complex flavor profiles, it is best to consume the coffee as fresh as possible.
Ground coffee is usually sold in vacuum-sealed packaging. This ensures that the grounds retain their flavor for longer. Once opened, it is recommended that the coffee be used within a week or two.
The best option, however, to get the most satisfactory results is to grind your coffee at home.
Purchasing coffee beans allows for the home grinding of the perfect coffee, ensuring freshness.
The Right Water Temperature
The right water temperature is vital to brewing the perfect cup of coffee and extracting optimal flavor.
Too cold, and the coffee will be heated too slowly with the water if using a stovetop method. This increases bitterness.
If using a drip method, the water simply will not be hot enough to extract the flavors of the coffee from the grounds. The result will be a watery and lackluster cup of coffee.
One exception to this rule is cold brew! Cold brew coffee is generally less acidic than it’s heated counterparts and can be prepared in large quantities.
But it takes much longer. Cold-brew coffee usually steeps for around 10 hours.
If the water is too hot, there is the risk of scorching the coffee, leading to an overly burnt and bitter flavor.
The perfect temperature for brewing coffee is just below the boiling point, 90°C. The ideal serving temperature will be considerably lower, at 70°C.
At this temperature, the coffee releases vapors that enhance the perception of flavors and aromas. As the coffee cools down, flavors become increasingly difficult to detect.
Some coffee making techniques require more specific temperatures.
When using coffee bags, for example, boiling water is not recommended. Rather, it is best to use water at a slightly lower temperature – 96°C.
In this way you extract the aroma and flavor, without tasting burnt or bitter.
It is important to consider that coffee is comprised of predominantly water. Therefore the quality of the water used makes a big difference in the final taste.
If at all possible, mineral or filter water should be used.
Coffee Grinders For Home Brewing
Several different types of grinders are available.
Some of the most common grinders are blade grinders. They use small blades at a high speed, much like a blender, to finely chop the beans.
These grinders are readily available and are usually quite economical.
One disadvantage of a blade grinder is that the beans are not ground uniformly. There is often a big difference between the finer granules and larger slices of coffee beans.
This, in turn, leads to unbalanced flavors in the coffee as well as wastage of the chunkier grounds.
Blade grinders are often electrical. Electric grinders are quick and convenient. However, if the quantity of coffee ground is large enough, a manual grinder is perfectly adequate for home use.
The superior grinding option is a burr grinder. Burr grinders are often manual, although electric burr grinders are available.
A burr grinder crushes the coffee bean uniformly, releasing its fragrant oils. This allows for improved solubility during the brewing process.
Different coffee brewing methods require different grades of ground coffee. Coffee brewing is, effectively, the use of hot water to extract flavors and aromas from the roasted coffee bean.
In each brewing technique mentioned below, the time and method of the extraction differ.
Finer ground coffee increases the surface area of the coffee bean that will come into contact with the water. Coarsely ground coffee has a reduced surface area.
Some techniques, such as the French Press, allow for longer immersion times. This fact allows for greater permeability of the coffee.
Therefore, coarsely ground coffee should be used to prevent bitterness and over-extraction.
Other, much faster brewing options, such as espresso, or the Turkish Ibrik, use very finely ground coffee. The coffee used to make Turkish coffee resembles dark cocoa powder.
In many cases, the method dictates the grind. However, it may be necessary to use the right technique for the coffee at hand.
Commercially marketed pre-ground coffee is often sold as being suitable for all coffee makers and brewing methods. Some higher-end products are more specific – such as specialty ground espresso.
How To Make Coffee On A Stove Manually (10 Methods)
There are several methods of making coffee without a coffee maker, depending on what utensils are readily available.
Many of these techniques do not need specialized equipment or even electrical energy. Some of the following methods do require specific appliances though, when making coffee on the stove.
The Cowboy Method is the simplest and most commonly used. Cowboy Coffee can be prepared at home, while camping, or even using an electric kettle.
It is best only to prepare the necessary amount. Using this technique can lead to overly bitter coffee if left too long or reheated.
How to make coffee in a pot:
- First, bring the water to a boil. For each cup of coffee, you’ll need approximately 8 oz of water.
- Once the water boils, allow it to sit for a minute or so while you measure out the ground coffee.
- Stir in 2 tablespoons of ground coffee for each cup of coffee, or according to taste.
- Allow to brew for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add a little cold water, as this helps the coffee grounds to settle to the bottom of the pot.
- Serve and enjoy with cream and sugar, or plain.
Cowboy coffee is a reliable back-up for any coffee machine emergency!
Make coffee on the stove the old fashioned way.
Use a Moka Pot
To make a stovetop espresso, a moka pot can be used. The moka pot is one of the most common coffee gadgets and were originally designed in Italy.
This is an easy way to make espresso coffee on the hob, on gas, or fire!
The size of the coffee grounds is important when making coffee using a moka pot. If the coffee is ground too fine, it yields a bitter final product.
The moka pot is made up of three parts.
- The lower part of the pot is where fresh water is placed.
- The perforated metal filter (also known as the funnel, due to its shape)
- And finally, the upper chamber is where the brewed coffee is collected.
In the bottom chamber, there is a safety valve that allows for the release of excess steam and pressure.
- Add freshly boiled water to the bottom chamber. Fill until the water level is just below the safety valve. It is important to use hot water in this step. Using cold water in the lower chamber means that while the water is heated, the coffee is slowly heated too, and becomes more bitter in the process.
- Fill the metal filter with freshly ground coffee. Give it a gentle shake or tapping the filter, to help the grounds settle. Do not tamp down or compress the coffee.
- Carefully place the filled filter basket into the lower chamber.
- Screw on the upper chamber, using a dish towel to prevent burning. The lower chamber will be hot.
- Put the moka pot onto the hob or stove. If the coffee starts to spurt through the funnel, the water is too hot. If it bubbles lethargically, then it needs a stronger flame.
- Once the pot starts actively making gurgling sounds, reduce the flame immediately. Remove it from the stove.
- Run the pot under cold water to stop the brewing process.
- Serve and enjoy!
Moka pots work by evaporating the water in the lower chamber. As the water evaporates, pressure builds up inside the pot. This pushes the water through the coffee in the filter and brewing the coffee in the process.
Water itself will not heat to above 100°C but the steam created in the process can be very hot indeed. It is important to take care when handling a hot moka pot, especially when pouring or removing the lid.
Turkish Coffee Method
Turkish coffee is one of the oldest known methods of coffee brewing.
Turkish coffee is prepared in a tall stainless steel or copper pot known as an “ibrik” or “cezve”.
Traditionally, Turkish coffee is prepared using hot sand. Sand is an excellent conductor of heat.
It can also be made on the stove-top.
One of the defining characteristics of Turkish coffee is that it is made using very finely ground coffee.
It is not filtered either, which makes for a strong-tasting brew. The grounds are allowed to settle to the bottom and are not drunk.
Sugar and fragrant cardamom pods can be boiled with the coffee to add sweetness and an authentic Turkish flavor. This differs from other techniques.
The sweetener is usually added after preparing the coffee. Cream or milk is not added to the coffee.
- Measure out 8 oz of water for each cup of coffee, and pour it into the ibrik or a small saucepan.
- Add sugar to the water, according to taste. Calculate 1 teaspoon of sugar per cup for a less-sweet coffee, 2 teaspoons for a medium-sweet cup, or 3 teaspoons for an extra-sweet cup of coffee.
- Heat the water and sugar until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture begins to boil. Remove from heat.
- For each cup of coffee to be prepared, stir 2 heaped teaspoons of finely ground coffee to the water. If using cardamom, add one crushed cardamom pod per cup.
- Return the ibrik to the flame and heat the coffee until it boils. Lower the flame and allow it to simmer, creating a foamy top layer.
- Slowly pour the coffee into cups. Let sit for a few minutes in the cups to allow the grounds to settle to the bottom of the cups. Once served, do not stir the coffee as the foam will collapse.
If there are any grounds left in the cup, some people say that the coffee grounds can be used to foretell the future.
Using a stovetop coffee percolator is one of the easiest methods out there if you have your own percolator. It is quick, simple, and you can use a percolator on the hob, on a gas flame, or even on a campfire.
The stovetop percolator resembles a kettle, with a steel filter basket inside. The ground coffee can be placed directly into the filter-basket. Or the filter can be lined using a paper or cloth filter if preferred.
Many stovetop percolators have a crystal knob of the lid of the percolator. This allows one to see when the water begins to boil. You can now monitor the color of the brewing coffee in order to determine when the coffee is ready.
Stovetop percolators use the steam to penetrate the coffee grounds and extract the flavor. As steam reaches higher temperatures than water, this can lead to a stronger, more bitter, and more intense flavor than those achieved using other methods.
- Fill the percolator jug with 8 oz of water for each cup of coffee.
- Add medium grind coffee to the filter basket. If a strong coffee is desired, use 1 tablespoon of coffee for each 8 oz of water. If a weaker coffee is preferred, add 1 teaspoon.
- Fit the filter into the percolator, close the lid, and put on the stove.
- All the coffee to come to a boil.
- Once boiling, the coffee should be brewed to perfection within 10-15 minutes, but the proof is in the color that it takes on.
- When ready, remove from heat and pour from the spout.
Percolators are usually made from stainless steel and get extremely hot. Therefore, caution is needed when removing from the stovetop – it is best to use an oven glove or dishcloth.
Use a trivet when placing the percolator on a counter-top.
Pour Over Method
The pour-over method is a no-brainer! Simply heat the water and pour over the grounds.
This is the simplest method of how to make coffee without a coffee maker.
For this method, it is best to use a medium grind.
If the coffee is too finely ground, the water will not filter through. If the coffee is too coarse, the water will not have enough time to interact with the grounds. You will end up with a flavorless, watery coffee.
It is advisable to preheat the cup before using this method. Either microwave the cup with water or fill it with boiling water.
Preheating the cup means that the cup will not absorb too much of the heat of the coffee as it is poured into the cup.
- Heat 8 oz of water for each cup of coffee to be prepared in a kettle.
- Place a filter in the dripper or colander, or directly over the coffee mug if preparing a single serving.
- Add coffee to the filter. Calculate 1 ½ tablespoons of ground coffee for each cup.
- Gently tap the filter to allow the grounds to settle, and create a level surface.
- Slowly pour a little water onto the grounds, and watch as they swell and absorb the water. This process is known as “blooming”. Continue adding water until the grounds are saturated.
- Allow to rest 30 seconds to a minute before continuing with the second pour.
- Slowly add more water, around 2 oz, or a quarter of the total amount of water. Allow to filter through.
- Repeat the process, slowly pouring the water over the grinds, in a circular motion.
- Once all of the water has been poured and has filtered through the grinds, the coffee is ready!
- Remove the filter, and serve – adding sweetener and cream as desired.
Paper coffee filters are a standard option when making pour-over coffee. These are less than perfect, as they absorb some of the natural oils released in the coffee.
These oils add to the mouthfeel of the coffee, creating a creamier, fuller texture.
Metal and plastic filters are also available. They make for better-tasting coffee as well as being more environmentally sustainable.
In a pinch, almost any permeable, natural fabric can be used as a coffee filter when placed inside a colander. Nut milk bags are ideal, but a handkerchief or a recycled cotton pillowcase could work too.
The French Press is one of the greatest icons of coffee worldwide.
They are simple to use, easy to maintain, and consistently make a smooth, full-bodied cup of coffee. It is no wonder that French Presses are so popular.
French Presses can be very affordable, or surprisingly expensive. Their function is quite standard, so any decent looking press will be more than adequate.
- Heat the water in a kettle.
- Remove the lid and filter of the french press.
- Depending on the size of the french press, add a coarsely ground coffee to the bottom of the jug. Calculate 1-2 tablespoons of coffee for each 6 oz of water.
- Start by blooming the coffee. Pour a little water over the grounds.
- For each tablespoon of coffee, it is recommended to use 2 tablespoons of hot water for the bloom. Stir the slurry (the mix of grounds and water) gently and allow it to rest for about 30 seconds.
- Pour in the remaining water and gently replace the lid of the french press. Do not push the filter down.
- Wait for four minutes to allow the coffee to brew.
- Gently but firmly, start to push down the filter. Add pressure gradually, to avoid accidents.
- Once the filter has been pushed all the way down, serve coffee immediately, or decant it. If left in the french press, the coffee will continue to brew and will develop a more bitter flavor.
On a side note, French Presses can also be used to make frothy steamed milk for topping coffee. Turn that espresso into a cappuccino.
Simply add hot milk to the jug, replace the lid and slowly but firmly push down the filter. Immediately pull it back up. Repeat this action a few times until the hot milk becomes thick and frothy.
Coffee bags are the perfect combination of convenience and coffee-brewing enjoyment.
They give us the simplicity, quality, and flavor of pour-over coffee, married to the ease of an instant coffee.
- First, boil water in a kettle and allow it to rest for a few minutes to cool slightly. 96°C is the ideal temperature.
- Add the coffee bag to a cup, and fill with water.
- Leave the bag for around 15 seconds – to allow the coffee to bloom, and then squeeze out the bag.
- Let the bag brew. This process usually takes approximately 10 minutes, but depends on personal preference.
- Remove the bag, sweeten, and add creamer to taste.
Coffee bags are available commercially or can be made at home using cotton fabric. Organic, unbleached material would be ideal.
In terms of sustainability, upcycling is the best option. Simply add the ground coffee of choice to the bag, and using as one would use a teabag to brew a cup of tea.
If using homemade bags, it may take some trial and error. Find the perfect size of grinds that will not filter through the fabric, while allowing the hot water to permeate the bag and extract the flavor.
Ideally, using a coffee bag should mean being able to enjoy a cup of freshly brewed coffee without leaving any grounds in the cup.
The king of convenience, the microwave, can also be used to make a decent cup of coffee.
This is not exactly brewing coffee on the stove – but it does not use a coffee maker
Over the years, microwaves have been rather controversial. But there is certainly no debate about the practicality of having one!
There are several ways that one can make a cup of coffee in the microwave.
- In a microwave-safe recipient, add 2 oz of water. A glass or Pyrex measuring jug is ideal. You can monitor the process and observe the color of the coffee as it brews and easily control the quantity of water used.
- Microwave the water for 15-30 seconds depending on the power of the microwave.
- Remove the recipient and add 1-2 tablespoons of medium grind coffee.
- Stir well and allow to bloom for about a minute.
- Add another 6 oz of water to the cup and return to the microwave for 1 ½ – 2 minutes. Keep an eye on the coffee to avoid it boiling over!
It is necessary that the coffee bubbles in the recipient.
- Once the time is up, or the desired color is achieved (it may be necessary to increase the time), the coffee can be poured through a filter into a mug.
- If no filter is available, simply add a little cold water and serve the coffee. Pour very slowly to avoid the transfer of grounds from the recipient to the cup!
- Sweeten and add creamer to taste.
The above process works well if there is no access to an electric kettle or another source of hot water. It is simple and only uses the most basic of supplies.
There is another method of making coffee in the microwave which leads to excellent results. However, it requires a specific utensil – a microwave coffee maker.
Microwave coffee makers are relatively new on the scene. A microwave coffee percolator is like a stovetop percolator but goes into the microwave.
- Water is placed in the bottom part of the percolator.
- Coffee is placed in the aluminum or plastic filter.
- The percolator is placed in the microwave for approximately 4 minutes – depending on the make and model of the percolator.
Other microwave coffee makers rely on the drip method.
Cold Brew Coffee
Cold brew coffee is a refreshing alternative to a hot cup of Joe in the mornings.
It is smoother and less acidic than hot coffee, which makes for improved digestion. A disadvantage of making cold brew, however, is that it takes a very long time!
Ideally, the coffee grounds should steep in the water for 10-12 hours. That’s a long time to wait for a cup of coffee!
Very few supplies are needed for this technique.
- Fill a large recipient with water. Using this technique, several liters of coffee can be brewed as it can be stored and enjoyed cold. Choose a food-safe container such as a large jar or jug.
- Grind coffee. For every 4 cups of cold water, add ¾ cup of ground coffee. Any grind size can be used, but in general, a coarse grind is better for cold brew.
- Add the coffee to a fabric filter bag – such as a nut milk bag or similar. The fabric should be porous enough to allow water to permeate the material and extract the coffee flavor; without allowing the grounds to escape into the water.
- Place the bag of coffee in the jar of water.
- Allow steeping for 10 hours.
- Once the coffee has achieved the right color and strength, it’s ready to enjoy!
- Remove the coffee bag and pour the cold-brew coffee into jugs, bottles, or mug of choice. Water dispensers are a fun option!
- Add sweeteners and other flavors, such as vanilla extract, or creamer to taste.
It is impossible to over-extract cold brew coffee, as the water will never be hot enough to do so.
Cold-brew coffee is a hands-off and undemanding method that results in great flavor!
Instant Coffee Powder
Instant coffee powder is created by first roasting and grinding the beans.
The beans are steamed to brew the coffee, which is then reduced to create an extract. The concentrate is then freeze-dried and later milled into granules.
Instant coffee is shelf-stable and is a practical solution to fulfilling our coffee needs when traveling, on the go, or in times of need.
Instant coffee is also a practical solution for those who do not drink coffee regularly. For those that have reduced kitchen space too. This means prefering not to lose precious counter top space to a dedicated coffee machine.
Many instant coffee powders have additives such as sugar, or powdered milk. Also, it is common to find coffee powders that have been mixed with chicory.
During the second world war, it became commonplace to mix the coffee to make supplies go further. Chicory is similar in taste but does not contain caffeine.
In order to make a basic coffee:
- Heat water to boiling point in a kettle.
- Add one to two teaspoons of instant coffee granules to the mug.
- Fill to the desired level with freshly boiled water.
- Sweeten to taste, and top off with milk or cream if preferred.
An instant coffee latte is quick, tasty, and comforting!
Follow the steps above. Use hot milk instead of boiling water to create a deliciously warming beverage.
Recently, the trend of making whipped coffee has meant increased popularity for instant coffee powder.
Whipped Instant Coffee:
- Heat water to boiling point in a kettle.
- First, scoop one to two teaspoons of instant coffee granules into a mug. Add one to two tablespoons of sugar. These measurements will vary according to taste.
- Pour a teaspoon or two of boiling over the coffee and sugar.
- Mix to dissolve, and continue to mix or beat vigorously using a spoon or whisk.
- Once the mixture is thick and foamy, slowly add water to fill the mug to the desired level.
- If desired, add a few drops of vanilla
Instant coffee is great to have on hand in an emergency, but can be enjoyed at any time!
Beans But No Grinder!
All of the methods discussed above use:
- freshly ground coffee
- commercially ground coffee
It is, however, possible to brew coffee using just the coffee beans.
Using whole coffee beans means that the issue of uneven coffee grounds is avoided. This results in a fuller, and more flavorful cup of coffee.
Coffee also starts to lose flavor very quickly once it is ground and is exposed to light, moisture, and air. It goes stale within a week or two, depending on how it is stored.
In fact, most coffee that is sold commercially is already stale. To avoid these negative factors, we can make coffee using the whole coffee bean.
Using the coffee bean is possibly the easiest and most practical system. And it requires no special equipment or tools. The simplest method is a water-bath method.
Collect the materials:
- whole roasted coffee beans
- a glass canning jar
- a small saucepan
- Add ¾ cup of coffee beans to the jar.
- Add approximately 3 cups of freshly boiled water to the jar.
- Place the jar in a small saucepan and fill the water in the saucepan up to the level of the water in the jar.
- Place the saucepan on the hob, or stovetop, on low heat.
- 30 minutes later, check on the coffee beans. The water in the jar should be taking on the signature aromas and colors of the coffee.
- Stir the coffee beans and top up the water in the saucepan if necessary.
- Allow the process to continue for another 30 minutes. Stir occasionally and monitor the aromas released by the coffee, as well as the color of the water.
- After an hour, the whole-bean brewed coffee should be ready.
- Strain or filter the coffee into a mug.
- Sweeten, dilute, or add creamer to taste.
The availability and variety of ground coffee nowadays are astounding. But one can still enjoy an old fashioned coffee, brewed from the beans.
There is a wide variety of coffee brewing techniques available that do not involve a coffee maker – but result in consistently delicious homemade coffee. It all boils down to personal preference and what materials are at hand.
When camping, multi-use utensils are ideal. They can be used for the preparation of other foodstuffs. The key is to be flexible and patient.
Part of the pleasure of enjoying a cup of coffee is the process of brewing it. Where better to appreciate the energy and tradition of coffee than in nature?
At home, the options to make coffee without a dedicated coffee machine may be more wide-ranging. In a kitchen, it may be possible to find several saucepans or filters, percolators, or metal jugs to brew coffee on the stove.
Other more specific, well-loved, utensils may be handed down from generation to generation.
By utilizing materials and supplies found in the home, whether due to necessity or personal preference, creates the possibility to explore preferences and personal taste. As well as reconnecting with our roots or coffee drinking heritage.
These out-of-the-box options are a step back in time. An opportunity to cherish the past and savor a fragrant cup of coffee – brewed to perfection!