You don’t have to miss out on that life-affirming cup of coffee just because the power’s gone out, especially not as there are 12 ways to boil water without electricity.
You may need the odd gadget or two, but even if they’re not available, you can conjure up a decent cup of coffee as long as you can boil water. You just need a little imagination.
I’ve resorted to using part of a shoe polishing kit as a coffee filter in the past. The result wasn’t great, but it got me through the morning.
As I never want to repeat that experience, I decided to find out just how many ways there are to make coffee without electricity and unearthed some surprising results.
7 Ways to Make Coffee Without Electricity
#1 Press It
A coffee or French press is said to produce some of the most flavorful and full-bodied cups of coffee you’re ever likely to taste. Consisting of a flask-like container and a plunger that incorporates a filter, lid, and handle, it makes coffee by immersing coffee grounds in hot water and filtering out the grounds.
To make the perfect cup of coffee with a coffee press, heat the water to just below boiling point (200ºF is ideal). Pour the water into the press to warm it. Remove the water from the press and add the coffee grounds. Pour the water back into the press over the coffee grounds, and stir the mixture quickly.
Place the lid onto the flask with the plunger or filter pulled up to the top. Leave the coffee to infuse for a further three minutes before carefully pushing the plunger down. Your coffee is now ready to drink!
You can use a coffee press at home, when camping, or in a survival situation. There are some robust coffee presses on the market that are ideal for taking with you wherever you roam. The GSI Outdoors Java Press is shatter-resistant, lightweight, and comes with an insulated sleeve to keep your coffee hotter for longer.
#2 Do It Cowboy Style
Forgot your coffee press? Don’t despair! You can still enjoy a cup of Joe first thing in the morning; you might just have to chew it a little!
Making cowboy coffee is the simplest method of making coffee without electricity. All you need is coffee grounds, water, and a pot.
Pour the water into the pot and bring it to a boil. This will help clean the water and, once you let it stand for 30 seconds, ensures it’s at the perfect temperature for making a brew.
Add two tablespoons of ground coffee for every eight ounces of water and then stir. Allow to infuse for a couple of minutes and then stir again. Let it sit for two minutes, and then add half a cup of cold water. This process helps the grounds sink to the bottom and give you a more pleasurable drinking experience.
Slowly pour the coffee into a mug, taking care not to disturb the grounds at the bottom of the pan. Personally, I’ve never achieved this without a few grounds sneaking through and spoiling the last sip, but maybe you have a steadier hand than me.
#3 Filter It
If, like me, the presence of coffee grounds in your mug is simply unacceptable, there are plenty of ways you can filter your cowboy coffee to make it smoother. One option is to buy a reusable coffee filter. They’re inexpensive, lightweight, and take up very little room. They’re also easy to lose or leave behind. Fortunately, there are plenty of alternatives.
Paper towels and napkins work well, provided you’ve got something – like a sieve – to put them in. A cloth dish towel is also effective and can be secured to the rim of your mug with a few clothes pegs.
There are also things known as coffee socks on the market. Like reusable filters or teabags, these cloth creations have a long handle attached to make filtering coffee a breeze. However, if push comes to shove, you could just use a sock! Just make sure it’s a clean one.
#4 Percolate It
Although a coffee press produces superior flavor, a percolator is better if you’re short on time or need to make enough coffee for the whole family. It will also produce a stronger taste than you’ll get from filtering.
A coffee percolator is similar to a teapot. It consists of a metal jug divided into two sections connected by a thin tube and a perforated basket. Put the cold water in the bottom section and the coffee grounds in the top.
As the water boils, it’s forced upwards through the tube and onto the coffee grounds. From there, it drips back into the bottom section, and the process starts again.
Robust camping percolators are easy to transport and less susceptible to damage than a coffee process. This one is made from marine-grade stainless steel and can make up to 14 cups of coffee. It even has a gauge, so you can judge how strong the coffee is before you pour it.
#5 Use an AeroPress
This ingenious little gadget is ideal for travel, camping, and survival. It won’t brew enough coffee for a whole family but will produce a smooth, full-flavored espresso in record time. It takes a little time to perfect the technique, but once you’ve mastered it, you can get your caffeine fix anywhere and anytime.
The AeroPress uses a similar method to a coffee press, but instead of filtering the coffee into a separate jug or carafe, it delivers it straight to the mug via a thin paper filter.
It comes with its own drinking mug that doubles up as a handy carrying case. It’s also easy to clean and pleasantly affordable.
To make coffee with an AeroPress, you must first rinse the paper filter and then place the brewing chamber over the mug. Now add your coffee and cover it with water, ensuring you cover all the coffee grounds evenly.
Let the coffee brew for around 30 seconds before adding the rest of the water. Now attach the plunger and push down slowly and steadily. A hissing sound lets you know when all the water has passed through the filter, and it’s time to enjoy your daily (or hourly!) caffeine fix.
Adjust the grind of your coffee beans to create the perfect cup, as finely ground coffee tends to produce a slightly bitter flavor.
Although AeroPress is designed to make espressos, once you’ve mastered the technique, you can also use it to create tasty Americanos and even an iced latte.
#6 Use Instant Coffee
Instant coffee is the fastest way of getting your caffeine fix when the power’s out, or your artisan coffee brewer’s on the blink. Simply add a teaspoon (or two) of instant coffee to your mug and pour hot (not boiling) water over it. It’s instant, you see?
Instant coffee is made from pre-ground roasted coffee brewed with hot water and then dehydrated. It comes in powder, granule, or crystal form, and a wide range of flavors and roasts are available, including some decaffeinated varieties. You can even get instant cappuccino and latte mixes if you want something extra special.
#7 Make a Cold Brew
Cold-brewed coffee doesn’t sound like a great option, but it’s smooth, tasty, and lacks the bitterness of filter coffee. You don’t even need to drink it cold if you don’t want to.
As its name suggests, cold brew coffee is made with cold water instead of hot, which means a much longer brewing time. Instead of pouring the water over the grounds and waiting a few minutes, with a cold brew, you have to wait between 12 and 24 hours.
It takes much longer for cold water to extract the flavor and oils from coffee grounds, but the result is surprisingly tasty. According to one study, it could be healthier than regular coffee because it’s less acidic. Hence, people “have less need to mask the acidic taste with calorie-laden cream, milk, and sugar.”
You don’t need special equipment to make cold brew coffee, just a lot of patience! Once it’s finally ready, however, you can either enjoy it cold, add ice to make it even colder, or heat it and enjoy its dark roast flavor.
Regardless of what kind of disaster strikes, there’s no reason to start your day without a decent caffeine kick. If you can boil water, you can enjoy a good, strong cup of Joe under any circumstances.
Coffee presses and percolators offer affordable ways of concocting a full-bodied brew, as does the AeroPress. However, even without these clever gadgets, you can still get the caffeine fix you need to survive the day. Get imaginative with your filters, or perfect the art of doing it cowboy style, either way, you’ll never have to go without.