How To Make Coffee Without A Machine Or Strainer

We all get outside our comfort zones occasionally, some more than others, and often unexpectedly. Though other considerations may take precedence, your morning coffee ritual soon jumps up the relevancy ladder as daybreak spreads. Whether traveling the globe, visiting grandma, picnicking on the beach, or camping in pristine wilderness, that lack of java access can affect the entire day, whether psychologically or physically. Think caffeine-withdrawal headaches or that quasi-meditation moment, hands wrapped around a warm mug, contemplating the launch of a brand-new day. 

Fortunately, there are ways to make coffee with no machine at all, and even with no filters. It just takes a bit of back-to-basics knowledge and some slip-in-your-bag forethought if afforded that luxury. This method involves hot water, ground coffee, and an empty vessel of some sort. You'll ideally have means of heating the water, but there's even a workaround for that. And filtering the coffee? Yep, there are a few solutions for that as well. 

If you happen to be an espresso or dark-roast devotee, this is an excellent option when finding yourself amongst drip-only drinkers or in small towns where Starbucks remains a fictional character in "Moby Dick." Hold off on grabbing that jar of instant coffee, and check out these alternatives.

What you'll need for machine-free coffee

In these days of intricate coffee preparation with espresso machines, French presses, pour-over coffee setups, single-serve capsules, and way more, we're accustomed to having choices. When those options get removed from the equation, for whatever reason, you'll find that ingenuity and flexibility quickly take over. 

For a satisfying and delicious coffee brew sans the devices, you'll be embracing the concept of "cowboy coffee," essentially working with two things: ground coffee and some kind of container. It doesn't have to be a fancy cup unless you tucked your favorite into a tiny mobile love pocket in your bag. Collapsible paper cups will do in a pinch, but also consider mason jars, camping pots, or travel-size drink bottles — whatever is sturdy enough for hot liquids. 

Using an electric kettle, collapsible kettle, or hot campfire coals, heat enough water for the people you'll be delighting with a piping-hot cup of joe. Portion three to four tablespoons of ground coffee per person into individual cups or a communal container. Slowly pour just enough boiling water to cover the beans, and let it sit for a minute, which "blooms" the coffee, extracting the most concentrated flavor. Then fill the container with more hot water and steep for four to five minutes. 

Then there's the filtering, as you don't want ground-bean floaters sliding down your throat. If you have traditional paper coffee filters, congratulations. Just filter and sip that handmade coffee to your soul's content. However, you have options.  

Filtering and easy-access coffee pouches

Without proper coffee filters, a sturdy paper towel or a very thin piece of fabric can suffice. Just be aware that staining is a high probability. Alternatively, some on-the-go coffee drinkers suggest bypassing filters altogether and sprinkling a small amount of cold water over the fresh-brewed coffee. In theory, it causes the grounds to settle at the bottom, allowing some very careful pouring from the top. But don't count on a completely un-crumbly cuppa Joe.   

When planning for these machine-less coffee days, some pouch-providing pals in the coffee industry can help, ones devoted to this exact scenario. Klatch Coffee offers travel-friendly single-serve pouches of full-strength specialty coffee with attached strings, similar to tea bags. The grounds come pre-steeped, like instant coffee that grew up. Dunk the pouch/bag in hot water and steep to desired strength. Lacking hot-water availability, they work equally well for cold brew — just steep overnight. 

Hikers Coffee sells pre-portioned sustainable coffee that comes in compostable Venture Pouches, holding enough loose grounds for two to four cups of coffee. This is not pre-steeped coffee, so pour hot water over the grounds in a cup or container. Choices include medium-roast Mile Marker, Yurt Dirt for dark roast, and a chocolaty S'Mores flavor. 

Preparing in advance for the absence of your morning compatriot, that steaming cup of coffee or espresso will keep inner rhythms intact and adventurous souls ready to rumble.