How to Make Coffee on the Stove in 14 Unique Ways


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When your coffee maker is broken or your power is out, your desire for a delicious pot of coffee doesn’t just go away. Even when we are out camping, with no electricity in sight, we are still coffee drinkers. 

Fortunately, there is a range of ways to make stovetop coffee (or campfire coffee). In this article, I’ll give you 14 of my favorites and a bit of insight on which ones provide the best flavor, which ones are easiest to do, and which ones are just for the days when you are truly desperate.

Are you ready to learn how to make coffee on the stove?

Table of Contents show

How to Make Coffee on the Stove Without a Coffee Maker

First, we’ll go with a classic. Long before the days of smart coffee makers and Nespresso pods, there was a way of making coffee that was designed for a lone ranger out on the prairie.

Yes, I’m going to tell you how to make cowboy coffee. I can’t endorse its flavor, but I can admire the tradition.

I’m not a fan of old cowboy flicks, but I’m assuming this is the way they make coffee in Westworld. I can just picture the Man in Black making his coffee in a pot over a campfire. 

Not out in the desert? You can just as easily make cowboy coffee on the stovetop.

The biggest advantage of this method is that it only requires equipment that you probably already have in your kitchen. But it just doesn’t taste that good. Think of this as your last resort method, best reserved for when it’s absolutely necessary or when you need to show your guests your cowboy side.

That’s enough warning, though. Here’s my favorite cowboy coffee recipe.

Cowboys sitting around a campire, where cowboy coffee was born

What you’ll need

  • Water (8 ounces of water for each cup of coffee)
  • Ground coffee (2 Tbsp for each cup of coffee)
  • A pot
  • A utensil for stirring (a spoon works)
  • Mugs for serving
  • (Optional) A thermometer for measuring water temperature

Time needed

It will take about 3 minutes to bring the water to a boil, and another 4.5 minutes to cool water and brew coffee.

Total: 8 minutes

Directions

  1. Measure the water and add it to the pot.
  2. Bring the water to a boil.
  3. Remove the pot from the heat and let it sit for 30 seconds or until the thermometer reads 200 Fahrenheit.
  4. Add the grounds to the water and store for a couple of seconds.
  5. Wait 2 minutes and then stir the mixture again.
  6. Wait another 2 minutes and then stir again.
  7. The grounds will be floating on top at this point. Pour about 1/2 cup of water (less if you are only making a small pot) on the grounds to get them to sink to the bottom.
  8. Transfer the coffee into the mugs, pouring slowly and blocking any stray grounds with your spoon.
  9. Enjoy (the experience if not the coffee)

How to Make Coffee on the Stove With a Coffee Maker

Okay, so cowboy coffee is not great. That doesn’t mean you can’t make great coffee on your stovetop. You just need a little bit of extra equipment, like a percolator, a Moka pot, or a Turkish coffee pot.

Use a stovetop percolator

One of the major differences between a percolator and a drip coffee maker is that you can buy percolators that work on the stovetop. In fact, these are the classic percolators (and really the classic stovetop coffee makers) — dating all the way back to 1819.

Percolators are more challenging to master than a drip coffee maker. It’s easy to over-extract the beans if you aren’t careful with your brew times because the water is constantly recycled through the beans as the brewing process runs.

What you’ll need

  • Water (16 ounces for each cup of coffee)
  • Coarsely ground coffee (1 tablespoon of coffee grounds for each cup of coffee)
  • A percolator
  • Mugs for serving

Time needed

It takes about 3 minutes to heat the water, and another 7-10 minutes to percolate the coffee.

Total: 10-13 minutes

Directions

  1. Measure the water and add it to the percolator’s lower reservoir.
  2. Add the grounds to the percolator’s upper basket.
  3. Heat the percolator over medium heat until you can see it peaking in the top of the percolator.
  4. Reduce the heat until the water is not boiling or simmering. There should be no steam coming from the percolator.
  5. Let the coffee percolate for 7-10 minutes, depending on the desired strength and flavor of your coffee.
  6. Pour the coffee into your mugs and enjoy!

Use a Moka pot (Stovetop espresso maker)

Moka pots are an Italian tradition that have also become popular in much of Latin America. They are advertised as stovetop espresso makers, although they actually brew a concentrated coffee rather than true espresso.

Unlike with a percolator, Moka pots don’t risk over-extracting coffee grounds because the water only runs through the grounds a single time. This makes them significantly easier to use, especially for beginners.

What you’ll need

  • Water (enough to fill the Moka pot and to dilute the final brew if desired)
  • Medium ground coffee (enough to fill the filter basket, about 2.5 Tbsp for a 4-cup Moka pot)
  • A Moka pot
  • Mugs for serving
  • A water kettle (optional)

Time needed

The brew will take about 5 minutes if you start with room temperature water, shorter if you preheat the water. Of course, preheating the water also adds about 3 minutes for that process.

Total: 5-7 minutes

Directions

  1. (Optional) Preheat the water in the kettle. This step helps to eliminate any metallic flavor from the Moka pot, and it provides extra water to dilute the coffee concentrate.
  2. Disassemble the Moka pot.
  3. Add the heated water, filling to the line in the brewer bottom.
  4. Insert the filter basket into the brewer bottom.
  5. Fill the basket with coffee — leveling it with your finger and wiping away any excess from the edges of the basket.
  6. Screw the top and bottom parts of the pot together. You want it secure but not overtightened. Be careful as it will be hot.
  7. Place the stovetop espresso maker onto the stove over medium-low heat, leaving the lid open.
  8. Watch for the coffee stream. First, you’ll hear a puffing sound, then a dark brown stream will start. The stream will lighten in color, and you should carefully (It’s hot!) remove it from the heat and close the lid when the color is a honey yellow.
  9. Run the bottom of the pot under cold water to stop the extraction. You can also wrap a chilled towel around the bottom of the pot.
  10. When the coffee stops bubbling, it’s ready to pour into the mugs, dilute with water as desired, and enjoy!

Make Turkish coffee

Turkish coffee is made in a special type of pot known as either a Turkish coffee pot or an Ibrik. You can think of Turkish coffee as being similar to cowboy coffee, except with none of the flaws. 

If you haven’t tried this delightful treat before, it’s a strong, rich, aromatic coffee that is served unfiltered — that is, with the grounds still in the mug.

What you’ll need

  • Water
  • Extra finely ground coffee (1 and 1/3 Tbps for every 2 ounces of water)
  • Sugar (optional but traditional, 1 heaping tsp per 2 ounces of water)
  • A small spoon for stirring
  • An Ibrik
  • Mugs for serving

Time needed

If you’re in a time crunch, you can use two heating instead of 3, but this timing is based on the recommended 3.

Total: 9-11 minutes

Directions

  1. Fill the Ibrik with cold water to just below 
  2. (Optional) Stir sugar into the cold water until it dissolves.
  3. Add the coffee grounds and stir them into the water.
  4. Heat the mixture over medium heat.
  5. Watch for when the mixture starts to foam. As soon as the foam looks like it’s close to spilling over the edge, remove the ibrik from the heat.
  6. Let the ibrik sit for a few seconds until the foam settles.
  7. Return the ibrik to the heat until the foam rises close to spilling over again. 
  8. Remove the ibrik from the heat and let the foam settle for a few seconds.
  9. One last time, return the ibrik to the heat and remove it right before the foam spills over.
  10. Immediately pour the coffee into the mugs. Try to get some of the foam into each mug as the foaminess is considered desirable in Turkish coffee.
  11. Wait about a minute for the grounds to settle to the bottom of the mug.
  12. Enjoy!

How to Make Coffee with Hot Water from the Stove

Use a homemade coffee brewing bag

If cowboys had coffee filters, this is the way they would have made their coffee. It tastes significantly better than coffee made with the original cowboy method, and you won’t end up with any grounds in your cup.

What you’ll need

  • Water (8 ounces for each cup of coffee)
  • Ground coffee (2 Tbsp for each cup of coffee)
  • A pot  (you can also use a kettle)
  • A spoon or other small utensil
  • A coffee filter and a string to tie it with
  • Mugs for serving

Time needed

It takes about 3 minutes to bring the water to a boil, and another 3-5 minutes to brew the coffee.

Total: 6-8 minutes

Directions

  1. Lay the filter on a flat surface and pile the coffee grounds at its center.
  2. Pull up the edges of the filter and tie a string tightly around it to produce a grounds-proof seal. You’ll end up with a closed container that looks like a misshapen tea bag.
  3. Add the water to the pot and bring it to a boil.
  4. Remove the pot from the heat once it’s boiling and add the coffee bag, pushing it under the water with a spoon initially to get it fully wet.
  5. Let the coffee steep for 3-5 minutes. You may want to play with this time to change the strength and flavor of your brew.
  6. Remove the bag and enjoy your coffee!

Make coffee with a coffee filter

I like to call this the manual drip coffee method. If you’ve ever had the desire to cosplay as a coffee machine, this is your chance!

You can also think of this as a very simplified version of a pour-over. Unlike a pour-over though, it doesn’t require any specialized equipment. The coffee it produces won’t be as good as a pour-over, but it can bypass the quality of standard drip coffee makers if you get the water temperature and pour speed right.

In a pinch, you can use cheesecloth, a handkerchief, or even a paper towel as the filter here. It just needs to be strong enough to withstand the water and porous enough to let water through and keep coffee grounds in.

A coffee filter placed in a mug for making coffee on the stove

What you’ll need

  • Water (8 ounces for each cup of coffee)
  • Ground coffee (2 Tbsp for each cup of coffee)
  • A pot or kettle
  • A coffee filter
  • Clips or a rubber band to hold the filter in place
  • A mug

Time needed

It will take about 3 minutes to bring the water to a boil, and another 2-4 minutes to filter the coffee.

Total: 5-7 minutes

Directions

  1. Place the filter into the mug and secure it in place with the clips or band.
  2. Put the grounds in the filter.
  3. Boil the water in the pot.
  4. Very slowly pour the water over the grounds.
  5. Remove the filter and drink your “drip” coffee.

Use the fake French press method

It’s not immediately obvious how this method gets its name because the process looks nothing like using a French press. It does produce coffee that is moderately like French press coffee, though.

Like a French press, this is an immersion brewing method — meaning that the grounds will be in complete contact with the water, just like in Turkish coffee or cowboy coffee. 

What you’ll need

  • Water (8 ounces)
  • Coarsely ground coffee (1 Tbsp)
  • A pot or kettle
  • Two mugs

Time needed

It will take about 3 minutes to bring the water to a boil, another 4-5 minutes to immerse the coffee, and 1-2 minutes to pour the coffee.

Total: 8-10 minutes

Directions

  1. Put the grounds in the bottom of one of the mugs.
  2. Heat the water to near-boiling in the pot.
  3. Pour about 1/4 of the water into the grounds. You want this water to fully wet the grounds.
  4. Pour the remainder of the water into the same mug.
  5. Let the mixture sit for 4-5 minutes.
  6. Slowly transfer the water into the second mug, leaving the grounds in the initial mug. Be careful not to jostle the grounds during this process. If you have difficulty pouring without the grounds, use a spoon to hold them back. You’ll lose a bit of water in the sludge at the bottom of the first mug, but it’s better to leave that than to risk pouring some of the grounds.
  7. Spoon out any bits of grounds if needed and enjoy your coffee!

Make instant coffee

I know, this isn’t actually a way of brewing coffee. Why do you think I named the article “how to make coffee on the stove” instead of “how to brew coffee on the stove”? 

Instant coffee is not the same as coffee grounds. Instead, it’s coffee that was already brewed and dehydrated. That’s why it entirely dissolves in water. Most instant coffees are mediocre at best, but you can get some that are high quality if you try.

I was dead set against instant coffee until I came across Sudden Coffee, a company that is trying to make pour-over quality instant coffee options from some of the world’s best coffee bean brands.

If you have instant coffee with its own directions, just follow those. If not,  these instructions will work with most brands.

Instant coffee being put in a coffee mug

What you’ll need

  • Water (8 ounces)
  • Instant coffee (1-2 tsp)
  • A pot or kettle
  • A mug

Time needed

The only time sink here is heating the water, as the instant coffee will dissolve, well, instantly.

Total: 3-4 minutes

Directions

  1. Add the instant coffee to the mug
  2. Heat the water to near-boiling in the pot.
  3. Pour water into the instant coffee.
  4. Stir and enjoy.

Use a French press

The French press fits in well with some of the other methods we’ve discussed. It’s a very brute force method, in the sense that it extracts everything from the coffee beans. This is definitely not for everyone, especially if you enjoy the subtler side of coffee.

It is, however, a fairly simple method that can be used with just hot water from your stovetop.

What you’ll need

  • Water (8 ounces per cup of coffee and a bit extra for preheating the French press)
  • Medium-coarse ground coffee (About 2.5 Tbsp per cup of coffee)
  • A pot or kettle
  • A french press
  • A spoon to stir
  • Mugs for serving

Time needed

You’ll need about 3 minutes to heat the water and another 4 to brew the coffee.

Total: 7-8 minutes

Directions

  1. Heat the water to near-boiling in the pot. You want it at about 200 degrees Fahrenheit when you go to pour it.
  2. Preheat the French press by pouring in a little hot water, swishing it around, and disposing of it.
  3. Add the coffee grounds to the French press.
  4. Pour the water into the French press and give it a quick stir with the spoon.
  5. Add the lid and wait 4 minutes.
  6. When the time has passed, slowly push the plunger all the way down.
  7. Immediately serve the coffee or decant it (meaning slow pour it into another container without the grounds). If you leave it in the French press with the grounds, it will over-extract them.
  8. Enjoy!

Use an AeroPress

The AeroPress is another immersion brewing method like the French press. However, it produces a much more subtle and complex brew. It’s definitely the new kid in the world of coffee makers, but it is earned a reputation (and my adoration) in its 16 years on the market.

The AeroPress was already highly portable, but it laid its claim to the travel and camping world with the release of the AeroPress Go, which has a built-in serving mug.

I’m going to show you the basic way of using an AeroPress here, but there’s a whole lot more the machine can do. I recommend trying out the AeroPress espresso recipe if you really want to see what this tiny machine can do.

What you’ll need

  • Water (8 ounces per cup of coffee, unless you want coffee concentrate)
  • Fine ground coffee (2.5 Tbsp or 1 rounded scoop per cup)
  • A pot or kettle
  • An AeroPress
  • An AeroPress filter (comes with the AeroPress)
  • The AeroPress paddle (comes with the AeroPress)
  • Mugs for serving (or just use the AeroPress Go’s built-in mug)

Time needed

You’ll need about 3 minutes to heat the water and another minute to brew and plunge.

Total: 4 minutes

Directions

  1. Heat the water until it is near-boiling.
  2. Wet the filter, place it in the filter cap, and attach the filter cap to the AeroPress.
  3. Place the AeroPress over the mug and add the grounds.
  4. Pour the water up to the indicator line on the Aeropress.
  5. Stir for 10 seconds with the paddle, making sure to get any grounds that are stuck in the bottom.
  6. Insert the plunger and push it all the way down gently and slowly.
  7. Dispose of the filter and grounds.
  8. Add the remaining water to dilute the coffee concentrate if desired.
  9. Enjoy!

Use a Vietnamese coffee filter

If you’ve ever had Vietnamese iced coffee, you know how great this method can be. It’s a very simple variant of the pour-over that doesn’t require any fancy techniques. Best of all, it produces a deliciously rich coffee concentrate that is perfect for making iced drinks or espresso-like beverages.

What you’ll need

  • Water (8 ounces per cup of coffee or less for coffee concentrate)
  • Coarse ground coffee (1 Tbsp per cup of coffee)
  • A pot or kettle
  • A Vietnamese coffee filter
  • Mugs for serving

Time needed

You’ll need about 3 minutes to heat the water and another 6 minutes to brew

Total: 9-10 minutes

Directions

  1. Remove the damper, which is the secondary filter-like piece that comes screwed inside the cup part of the filter.
  2. Add the grounds to the filter and shake lightly to level them.
  3. Screw the damper back in place. You want it tight enough to hold the grounds in place but not enough to crush them. Screw until you feel resistance then go about half a turn more.
  4. Set the filter on top of the mug.
  5. Heat the water until it is near-boiling.
  6. Pour the water into the filter until it is about 1/4 full and let the water seep through for 30 seconds.
  7. After the 30 seconds, pour enough water to fill the filter and then close the lid.
  8. Wait for the water to seep through the filter and into the mug. This should take 5 minutes. If it happens much faster than that, the damper wasn’t tight enough and the grounds won’t fully extract.
  9. You can dilute the concentrate with more water, drink it as is, or consider adding some condensed milk for a more traditional Vietnamese experience.

Make a pour-over

If you’re ready for a real challenge, this is it. Pour overs are the hardest coffee-making method to master. They are a tedious and finicky process that you will mess up several times along the way.

But once you get it right, you will never go back. They make amazing coffee that is hard to match with any other type of coffee. Don’t blame me if you get hooked.

I’m going to provide a very basic version of the instructions, but I highly recommend checking out James Hoffman’s V60 method if you want to see a real master in action.

What you’ll need

  • Water (8 ounces per cup of coffee or less for coffee concentrate)
  • Coarse ground coffee (1 Tbsp per cup of coffee)
  • A pot or kettle
  • A coffee dripper (a pour-over coffee maker, like a V60)
  • A coffee filter
  • Mugs for serving

Time needed

You’ll need about 3 minutes to heat the water and another 6 minutes to brew

Total: 9-10 minutes

Directions

  1. Heat the water to near-boiling.
  2. Wet the filter and place it in the dripper on top of the mug.
  3. Put the grounds in the filter.
  4. Pour a small amount of water (about twice as much as the amount of grounds) in a circular motion and let the coffee bloom (bubble) for about 30 seconds.
  5. Pour the rest of the coffee slowly, continuing the circular motion.
  6. Wait for the coffee to finish dripping.
  7. Enjoy! You’ve earned it.

Bonus: How to Make Coffee Without Electricity or a Stove

Make cold brew

One of the coolest things about cold brew coffee is that you can make it in basically any container, although it doesn’t hurt to get a cold brew pitcher for the convenience of the built-in filter.

You won’t need any source of water because the method is made to brew cold. You also don’t need any sort of electricity, assuming you still have some way of keeping the mixture cold during the brewing period.

Cold-brew makes a coffee concentrate that carries a real surprising kick, so be prepared to dilute it if you’re used to the strength and taste of coffee that isn’t doubly caffeinated.

The biggest downside here is the time needed. Instead of minutes, we’ll be measuring it in hours. You can make cold brew in 12 hours, but you’ll want to wait for 24 to get the best flavor out of the batch.

What you’ll need

  • Water
  • Coarse ground coffee (3 Tbsp per cup of water)
  • A cold brew pitcher (or just any refrigeratable container)
  • A coffee filter or cheesecloth (unless there is one built into your cold brew pitcher)
  • Mugs for serving

Time needed

As I said, this one takes a while. Notice that we’re talking hours, not minutes.

Total: 12-24 hours

Directions

  1. If using a normal container, add the grounds directly. If using a pitcher with a filter, put the grounds in the filter and place the filter in the pitcher.
  2. Add the water to the pitcher, making sure to wet the grounds thoroughly. If you are using a standard container, stir the water to make sure the grounds are fully wet. If using a cold-brew pitcher, just make sure to pour the water such that it wets all parts of the filter thoroughly.
  3. Put the mixture in the fridge for 12-24 hours.
  4. After the brew time is over, take the container out of the fridge.
  5. If you used a cold brew pitcher, just remove the filter and dispose of the grounds. If you used a regular container, pour the coffee through a coffee filter or cheesecloth to filter off the grounds.
  6. Dilute if desired.
  7. Enjoy!

Use a siphon coffee maker

An old chemist friend of mine turned me on to siphon coffee makers not too long ago. You can also call them syphon or vacuum coffee makers, as they all mean the same thing.

Sure, they look like they came straight out of a science lab, but that’s not their biggest selling point for this article. You can buy ones that use alcohol as a fuel source, so they can be used without any electricity and without needing a stove for heating the water. 

The downside is that these machines have a lot of breakable parts, so you’ll need to exercise a bit of caution. They also take up a bigger chunk of counter space than an AeroPress or cold brew pitcher.

What you’ll need

  • Water (8 ounces per cup of coffee)
  • Coarse ground coffee (2.5 Tbsp per cup of water)
  • A siphon coffee maker
  • A spoon to stir
  • Mugs for serving

Time needed

It can take several minutes to heat the water if you don’t pre-heat it. The brewing itself takes about 1.5 minutes and another minute for the drop. 

Total: 6-10 minutes

Directions

  1. Attach the filter.
  2. Add the water to the bottom chamber. You can use pre-heated water to speed things up.
  3. Dry the outside of the bottom chamber thoroughly.
  4. Put the bottom chamber on the heat source.
  5. Turn the heat source to maximum and place the funnel loosely into the bottom chamber.
  6. When the water starts to boil, finish attaching the funnel to the bottom chamber and make sure it fits tightly.
  7. Wait a few seconds for the water to fill the top chamber, then add the coffee to the water in the top chamber.
  8. Stir the mixture briefly.
  9. Wait 45 seconds then stir again.
  10. Wait another 45 seconds, then turn off the heat.
  11. Wait for the coffee to draw down to the bottom chamber, which should take about a minute.
  12. Remove the pieces, being cautious since they’ll still be hot. 
  13. Enjoy your coffee and your new title of “coffee chemist”!

You Have the Power!

Who needs electricity to run a fancy espresso machine? Not you! You have the tools you need to make great coffee anytime, anywhere.

All you need is a source of heat — a stove, a campfire, a dragon, or whatever — and you are ready to brew a delicious cup of coffee in any number of ways. Even if you don’t have the power of the flame, you can still make a cold brew!

Now go practice your new superpowers. Show off one of these recipes to your friends. Prove that you know how to make coffee on the stove. Do me a favor, though: Be sure to let them know that you heard about it at EasyToEspresso.com!

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