How to Make Coffee Without Electricity/When Power Is Out

If you own a gas stove that is working, you should have no trouble brewing coffee on it when the power is out.

However, if you have an electric/induction stove, you will need to start a fire to brew your coffee without electricity.

This means either searching your camping gear to find a portable stove, or starting an open fire in a safe space outdoors.

Of course, you must never start an open fire indoors. Not only is it a risky fire hazard for your home, but the fumes from an indoor fire can also cause serious health problems.

Once you have started an outdoor fire, you can easily use a pot or kettle to boil water or brew your coffee over the fire.

You can brew it any way you want, and it all depends on your personal preference and the supplies you have at hand.

Why Make Coffee Without Power?

Americans drink roughly 400 million cups of coffee each day, which amounts to roughly 146 billion cups of coffee each year.

As some of the leading consumers of coffee worldwide, it is safe to assume that Americans like coffee a lot, and it is a big part of their culture.

While many buy their coffee from a local coffee house or chain, some prefer to brew their own.

This allows them to keep costs down, while also enjoying quality coffee as per their preferences.

However, brewing coffee at home requires electricity to power your coffee maker, electric/ induction stove, or even your microwave.

So it makes sense to know how to make coffee without electricity, so you can make coffee off-grid, or when the power goes out after a storm or blackout.

Let’s discuss a few different ways to make coffee without electricity, so you can enjoy your cup of java even when the power is out.

Store-Bought Instant Coffee

If you are not one for brewing coffee, or if you are short on time, store-bought instant coffee can be the most convenient option.

You simply boil water in a pot or kettle over your gas stove or outdoor fire, and follow the directions on the packaging to make coffee.

While instructions may vary, typically, you just empty a packet of instant coffee in a cup, add the hot water, and mix well.

It is a simple process to make a cup of low-quality instant Robusta coffee without electricity, especially when you are short on time.

Pour-Over Coffee

A fancier option is to use a pour-over coffee kit/maker. These new and increasingly popular coffee makers do not require electricity to make coffee, which means they can be very useful when the power is out.

There is a wide range of models to choose from. Some come with extravagant decanters and specialized filters, while others are much simpler and use normal paper/coffee filters.

Typically, you place a filter inside the conical device (unless it has a built-in filter), add ground coffee, and place it over an empty coffee cup.

Then, you gradually “pour” hot water into the pour-over device, which gradually blooms the coffee grounds, extracts the flavor and aroma, and drips it into your cup below.

It is a drip-brewing method that gives you control and freedom to drip brew your coffee without electricity.

French Press Coffee

A more traditional, yet equally fancy alternative, is to use a French press. Many families own one but never get around to using it.

But when the power is out, it is one of the best ways to make good coffee.

The great thing about a French press is that it can consistently produce flavorful and full-bodied coffee, without requiring as much time or technical pouring techniques as a pour-over coffee maker.

This is mainly because it does not involve drip-brewing.

You simply pour coffee grounds to the empty decanter, add hot water from your gas stove or outdoor fire, stir evenly, then let it sit and brew for 4-5 minutes.

Once brewed, you “press” the plunger down the decanter, which filters the coffee by pushing all the coffee ground down at the bottom of the decanter.

Lastly, pour the remaining liquid into a coffee cup and enjoy your hot cup of flavorful, French-pressed java.

Perhaps you do not own a French-press, nor want to dish out the money for a fancy pour-over coffee maker. Maybe you have an old percolator somewhere in your home instead.

Percolator Coffee

You may have seen these old-school coffee brewers in classic movies.

They typically used a basic blue percolator to brew coffee in campfire scenes, and most diner scenes have servers holding these out to pour coffee for customers.

The good news is that you do not have to watch these old movies to use an old percolator.

Simply remove the grounds’ basket, its cover, and stem from the percolator and pour water into it. Then, place it upright over your gas stove or campfire.

While the water warms up, add coffee grounds to the grounds basket and place it over the stem. Then, place the cover over the grounds’ basket, making sure the stem goes through it.

Use the small section of the stem that is protruding over the basket cover to pick up the whole thing and place it inside the percolator.

Make sure the percolator is upright and the stem is in the center, before closing the lid.

As the water at the bottom starts to boil, it will make its way up through the stem and spritz over the grounds’ basket.

When this happens you will see bubbles coming from the stem in the transparent dome on the lid. Do not open the lid! If possible, lower the heat to medium temperature.

As the boiling water makes its way up the stem, down into the grounds’ basket and beyond, it “percolates” or brews the coffee into the water below.

Let it percolate for 5-7 minutes, before taking it off the fire. 

Pour the freshly brewed coffee into a coffee cup (without removing the lid), and enjoy percolator coffee without electricity, just the way your grandparents did.

Cowboy Coffee

If you do not have a percolator, or any of the aforementioned coffee makers and brewers, you can still make yourself a hot cup of cowboy coffee.

While it may not be the best cup of coffee, it will still be better than any instant coffee you’ve ever had.

Simply warm some water in a pot on your gas stove or campfire, before adding ground coffee directly into it.

Bring it to a rolling boil and let it simmer for about 2 minutes. This boil will also help reduce the acidity of the coffee.

Then, remove the pot and let the coffee settle for a minute, before pouring it into a coffee cup. Since there is no filter, you’ll find grounds in your coffee.

However, if you pour a small amount of cold water evenly over the coffee after taking it off the fire, it can help settle all the coffee grounds at the bottom of the pot.

As long as you do not shake the pot too much, the grounds should stay at the bottom when you pour out your coffee.

Cold-Brewed Coffee

It is also possible that you may be in a situation where you do not even have a fire source. No worries, you can still make coffee without electricity, or when the power is out.

In such a situation, you should consider cold-brewed coffee. It is the simplest way to make coffee, but it takes the longest time.

Just add coarse coffee grounds to cold water, and let it sit for at least 10 hours or up to 24 hours. This will allow enough time for the cold water to extract coffee flavor and aroma from the grounds.

The only good thing about this tedious process is that the resulting cold coffee has little to no bitterness to it.

If you use generic or low quality coffee, or grind it too fine, you’ll end up with a flat, bland, and boring cup of cold-brewed coffee.

However, if you start the process with coarse, high-quality coffee grounds, let them sit in the cold water for 24 hours, and filter them out at the end—you will likely end up with the smoothest, silkiest cup of coffee you’ve ever had.

Wrapping Up

We hope you learned the many different ways to make coffee without electricity, or when the power is out.

All you need is a fire and a pot, or perhaps a brewer, but even these are not necessary to make a smooth and silky cup of cold brew.

While you can always use these methods to make coffee without electricity or when the power is out, we highly recommend trying them anyway.

Not only will it help you understand the processes, but you’ll also experience coffee in different ways.

Cowboy, French press, and percolator coffees are a must-try for any coffee enthusiast, whereas cold-brewed coffee is perhaps the easiest, most convenient, and fool-proof method to make coffee.

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