How to Make Coffee in an Emergency

Worst. Day. Ever. Your coffee pot broke, or you’re out of electricity, or some other first-world emergency has befallen you. NO!!!!

Coffee EmergencyFret ye not, O uncaffeinated one. There are ways. Wise ways. Ways that others use. Ways. If you’re wondering how to make coffee in an emergency, you should totally check out these tricks.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: All of the Affiliate Links and ADVERTISEMENTS in this article will send you over to our friends at Cooking.com. They do cool stuff and you could get lost on their site. We’re okay with your doing that, but first, please read the Disclosures here. And read this post.]

No Electricity, But the Gas Works…

Reason #1 to love having natural gas for your range? You don’t need electricity to get cooking. We’ve had this happen before: there’s a storm, or there’s construction on the power lines, or a crazy driver decides to hotwire a car and crash it into an electric pole right around the corner from you. (Truth is stranger than fiction…) In any event, if you’re without electricity but still have gas, you can light the stove with a match. (You’ll turn to “light” and won’t hear the “click, click, click,” but this is how a lot of the cool chefs light their stoves.)

If you’ve used a French Press (that’s an Affiliate Link) before – some people swear by them – this is pretty much the same technique. It involves…uh…coffee, hot water, and a strainer (which the plunger thing on the French Press normally takes care of for you). Tea strainer is what they recommend on the WikiHow page – but you might not have that handy.

We’ll break this down into three quick steps:

  • Boil the desired amount of water. When it’s bubbling, take it off the heat source and let it set for 30 seconds to stop bubbling. Remember, we’re semi-roughing it or it’s an emergency or we’re panicking – so we don’t have a thermometer handy to figure out whether we have the desired temperature of 195-205 Fahrenheit.
  • Put the desired amount of coffee grounds into a Pyrex cup or other heat-proof container. Then add the water and leave the two – what will look like a bowl of coffee grounds and water – together for 3 Minutes.
  • After three minutes, pour the mixture through either a tea strainer or other strainer – something that catches the grounds and allows the liquid to pour through.

You. Have. Coffee.

What About the “Pour-Over?”


As you’ll see from this video from Howcast, the “Pour-Over” makes a great cup of coffee – and you don’t need the electricity or a machine to make it. It DOES look like you need something you can score from your high school Chemistry teacher, so that might be a problem. Jury-rig something that looks similar, add your filter, and take your time. (Emphasis on “take your time” – move too quickly and this method will set you up for failure.)

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Uh…what if…um…we don’t have anything to filter with?

No Electricity, No Filter…

I’ll admit, this particular method on the Wikihow page scares me. BUT, if you follow the steps and pour slowly, it should work correctly because Physics.

How to Make Coffee in an Emergency

Final notes on this post: First up, we didn’t even go there when it comes to the proper ratio of grounds to water. Why? We think Starbucks asks you to use the right amount of grounds in order to ensure that Starbucks sells a lot of coffee. We also know people who like their coffee on the milder side – so our typical “10 cups to 8 scoops” ratio is likely too strong. So that water-to-grounds ratio is up to you.

Secondly, we’re sure to get a little backlash here because being without electricity doesn’t sound like an actual “emergency.” But, if you’re addicted to the morning cup of joe and you’re facing the possibility that you’ll be without…hey, one man’s emergency is another’s crisis. Semantics. Drink up.

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