Can You Brew Whole Bean Coffee? (Without Grinding It)

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Have you ever forgotten your coffee grinder on a trip or accidentally bought whole beans instead of pre-ground coffee? You don’t want that coffee to go to waste, but can you brew whole bean coffee?

You can make coffee using whole beans through the double boiler and steeping methods. These brewing procedures take longer and use more beans than a regular cup of coffee. It also yields a less bitter and less acidic brew.

Now that you know you can brew coffee with whole beans, you may be wondering how to make one. But first, let me tell you the ins and outs of this coffee.

What Is Brewed Whole Bean Coffee?

No-grind whole bean coffee does not follow the conventional brewing methods. This caffeinated drink neglects the grinding step and heads straight to steeping the whole coffee beans. As a result, the beans soak longer, and the coffee tastes weaker than the usual ground coffee.

Brewing whole bean coffee vs ground coffee

  1. Whole bean coffee doesn’t use a coffee grinder. Bean coffee uses roasted coffee in its bean form rather than the consistent grounds you’ll get when grinding coffee beans.
  1. Whole bean coffee brews longer. Whole beans have less surface area than ground coffee, so water soaks less surface on the bean and dissolves fewer oils. As a countermeasure, brewing whole beans use more coffee and time.

    To give you an idea, the whole bean coffee recipes you’ll find later in this article take about an hour to brew. Meanwhile, coffee drinks like espresso, cappuccino, and latte take less than a minute with the right coffee maker.
  1. Whole bean coffee uses more beans. As stated above, the increased amount of beans compensates for the lower surface area when brewing. Unfortunately, this solution becomes expensive as you use more beans than ground coffee.
  1. Whole bean coffee is less bitter and acidic. With a decreased contact area, water cannot efficiently dissolve the flavors from the beans. And so, the whole bean coffee tends to be less bitter and acidic than ground coffee.
  1. Whole bean coffee is a hit and miss. Unlike ground coffee, bean coffee gives you less control over the resulting strength and flavor. Sometimes, you’ll get a watery drink. Other times, it can be as delicious as ground coffee.

How to Make Coffee Beans into Coffee (No Grinder Needed!)

Double boiler method: How to brew coffee with whole beans

The first recipe involves the concept of double boilers. They facilitate the precise and accurate heat transfer in the system for more consistent extraction. By recreating a similar heating system, you can brew whole beans without grinding. Here’s how.

What you need

  • Whole coffee beans
  • Filtered water
  • Heat-proof container (mug, mason jar, etc.)
  • Deep cooking pan
  • Stove
  • Strainer
  • Tablespoon
  • Cooking thermometer

Step-by-step instructions

  1. Fill a third of the jar with whole coffee beans. You may change the number of beans using a coffee-to-water ratio calculator. Remember that unground beans require longer brewing, so you can counter that by steeping more beans. 
  1. Pour water into the pan. The volume of water should be enough for the jar and half the capacity of your cooking pan. You can either measure it accurately or estimate the water line somewhere above the midline of your pan.
  1. Heat the water. Monitor the temperature and take the pan off the flame before it boils. If you missed this stop, let the water rest until it falls within the optimum brewing temperature, 195 to 205 °F (91 to 96 °C).
  1. Pour hot water into the jar. Ensure the water stays within the temperature indicated above to promote proper extraction. Otherwise, you’ll have sour coffee due to under-extraction or bitter coffee from over-extraction.
  1. Place the jar over the pan. The water in the pan should not be too close to the jar opening to prevent boiling water from entering the container.
  1. Warm water under medium heat. At this point, you have a double boiler operating similar to that of high-end espresso machines. Essentially, the boiling water from the pan maintains the coffee temperature and allows it to steep in a more controlled setting. 
  1. Stir the coffee. While your makeshift double boiler brews for 45 to 60 minutes, you may stir the coffee occasionally. Doing so promotes the extraction of whole beans.
  1. Strain the mixture. Once finished with steeping, strain the coffee and collect the residual beans. After all, no one wants chunks of coffee beans floating in their drink.
  1. Enjoy. Tap yourself on the back and take a sip of your delicious coffee!

Steeping method

The steeping method offers a more travel-friendly approach to brewing whole bean coffee. You can do this in your hotel room or even at a convenience store if they have a hot water dispenser. 

With this method, brewing will not require you to stay in one place. You can drive around and run errands as you brew your coffee. Are you sold yet? Follow this recipe for a quick on-the-go whole bean coffee!

What you need

  • Whole coffee beans
  • Filtered water
  • Insulated container with lid (travel mugs, vacuum flask, etc.)
  • Stove, water heater, microwave, hot water dispenser
  • Coffee strainer

Step-by-step instructions

  1. Fill a third of the flask with whole coffee beans. Amount based on what you want
  1. Heat water. Optimal extraction happens with near-boiling water, so turn the heat down to around 195 to 205 °F (91 to 96 °C) or let the boiling water cool down.

Tip: Use your Keurig as a water heater. It doesn’t boil water like the usual stoves, microwaves, and water heaters, so you don’t have to keep watch as it warms up.

  1. Fill the flask with hot water and whole coffee beans. The coffee beans should take up about a third of the flask, and the rest goes to water. However, if you’re fond of strong coffee, I suggest using more coffee beans to increase its concentration.
  1. Cover and shake the flask occasionally. Keep the lid tightly closed to prevent heat from escaping and letting the cap fly off during shaking. The constant steeping temperature and timely agitation promote proper extraction of coffee.
  1. Strain the mixture. After an hour, drain the coffee into another container with a fork or the built-in strainer of your flask. 
  1. Enjoy. Drink your coffee or throw in a few ice cubes for a cold refreshment!

Should I Make Whole Bean Coffee Without Grinding?

Yes, you can experiment with no-grinder whole bean coffee, but I do not recommend making it an all-time drink. Aside from being more expensive in the long run, bean coffee is also inefficient and time-consuming. Plus, you’re not getting the best flavors from your coffee.

Alternative options to whole bean coffee

If you’re wondering how to switch from whole bean coffee, you’ve come to the right place. Here are some ways to level up your coffee game!

  • Buy pre-ground coffee. You can purchase coffee beans in their bean form or ground form. By buying the latter, you won’t need a coffee grinder. However, store them properly to prevent the coffee grounds from going bad.
  • Get a coffee grinder. With the best coffee grinders, you can maximize the flavors derived from your beans while minimizing the amount needed. Not to mention, fresh ground coffee makes a delicious cup of joe!
  • Invest in a coffee maker with built-in grinders. If you have a bit more budget, I recommend going for a coffee maker with a built-in grinder. Some units even offer grind settings and other automatic features to make brewing easier on its users.
  • Let Starbucks grind your coffee beans. Starbucks does not charge customers to grind unopened and unexpired coffee beans under their brand. So if you fit under the criteria, you can ask Starbucks to grind your beans.
  • Switch to instant coffee. Different brands release instant coffee blends that may satisfy your craving for coffee. A good starting point is the Vietnamese coffee brands for a bold, robust flavor or Colombian instant coffee for a milder coffee flavor.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you boil whole coffee beans to make coffee?

Well, yes and no. You need boiling water for whole bean coffee to maintain the steeping temperature – not to soak the beans directly. The setup involves boiling water surrounding the jar containing the coffee mixture.

Can you use whole coffee beans for cold brew?

Absolutely! You can either grind the beans with a coarse setting and steep overnight or soak the whole beans and steep even longer. However, the first method is more advisable since it follows the conventional way of making a cold brew.

Brewing Whole Bean Coffee Without a Grinder: Yay or Nay?

Whole bean coffee is a different approach to brewing since it strays from the usual coffee grounds of various kinds of coffee drinks.

While this coffee is an alternative for those with no access to a grinder, you can still make the most out of your brew. You can tweak the recipe and add frothed milk for sweeter and creamier coffee. Or, try out my tips to enjoy black coffee if you’re more of a strong coffee lover. Happy brewing!

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