Last Updated on April 18, 2022 by John Moretti
Many people like to buy whole coffee beans and grind them just before brewing for a great fresh cup of coffee. But if I don’t have a grinder or it unexpectedly breaks, can I still use my whole beans? Can you brew coffee beans without grinding them?
You can still brew a flavorful cup of coffee with whole, unground coffee beans. However, the brewing process will take about an hour. This is because the purpose of grinding coffee beans is to speed up the extraction process when the coffee is added to water.
Grinders may be commonplace and certainly make the coffee brewing process a lot faster, but they also degrade the flavor of your coffee beans and aren’t necessary. If you have the time and the money to brew your whole coffee beans without grinding them, here’s what I’ve found out about brewing coffee beans without grinding them:
Can You Brew Coffee With Whole Beans?
Before I explain why it is, in fact, possible to brew whole coffee beans without grinding them, I first need to explain why we grind coffee beans in the first place.
Coffee beans are ground up to increase the surface area of the beans. Meaning more of the coffee can be extracted when added to boiling water. This speeds up the brewing process and you can get more out of each coffee bean.
However, to ensure that each individual ground is extracted at the same rate and therefore takes on the perfect taste, they must be consistent in size.
So, if I’m brewing a single cup of coffee with the same coffee grounds that are inconsistent in size, the finer grounds will extract flavors at a faster rate than larger ground sizes, and it would be over-extracted if brewed for as long as it takes to extract from the larger grounds.
Conversely, larger grounds would be under-extracted if brewed for as long as it takes to extract the finer grounds. Therefore, having consistent sizes in your coffee grounds is important if you don’t want bitter coffee from over-extraction or weak coffee from under-extraction.
Furthermore, when whole coffee beans are ground, it begins the process of oxidization, which diminishes the flavor of the coffee because the grounds are exposed to oxygen and moisture in the air. This is why pre-ground coffee is vacuum-sealed and will never deliver the same flavors as freshly ground whole beans.
So, once I understood how the extraction process works and the requirement for consistency in ground sizes, I discovered that it is also possible to brew whole coffee beans without grinding them.
The problem is that the process takes a lot longer, and you will need a lot more coffee beans.
But, if you’re not spoiled for choice and are looking for a way to brew whole coffee beans without grinding them, I’ve found an easy method to do so.
How To Brew Coffee Beans Without Grinding Them
If you don’t have a coffee grinder and want to brew your coffee using whole coffee beans, you can use the double boiler method, which requires a stove, a large saucepan, a heat-safe mason jar, a spoon, and a strainer.
Follow these easy steps, and you will have a freshly brewed cup of coffee in your hands in about an hour:
- Heat a cup of water in the saucepan to near boiling temperature.
- Add your whole coffee beans to about a third of the mason jar.
- Add the hot water to the mason jar.
- Add fresh water to fill about half of the saucepan and place on the stove at medium heat.
- Place the mason jar into the saucepan.
- Use this double-boiler to allow the whole coffee beans to steep in the water for 45 minutes to an hour, stirring intermittently.
- Take the mason jar out of the saucepan with oven mitts, a cloth, or a pair of tongs.
- Pour the coffee into a mug using the strainer and enjoy.
How To Grind Coffee Beans Without A Grinder
The glaring issue with brewing coffee beans without grinding them is that it takes so long and requires far more coffee beans. Most of us don’t have the time or money to brew coffee beans without grinding them. So, is there a way to grind coffee beans without a grinder? There are two ways to do it: with a mortar and pestle or a blender.
Grind Coffee Beans With A Mortar And Pestle
A mortar and pestle is a great kitchen tool that can effectively grind coffee beans, giving you much control. You can grind coarse beans, suitable for a French press, or an ultra-fine grind better suited for espresso machines or Moka pots.
Fill a quarter of your mortar with whole coffee beans and use a firm, circular motion to press the coffee beans with the pastel. Crush the beans down to a suitable size, aiming for consistency throughout.
You should never fill the mortar more than a quarter of the way if you want consistent sizes and, if you need more coffee, rather repeat the process than fill it beyond the quarter mark.
Grind Coffee Beans With A Blender
A blender is similar to a blade-powered coffee grinder and gives you a fair amount of control over the grind size. After ensuring that the lid is securely closed, use a high-speed to grind the beans down the beans intermittently. Constantly grinding for extended periods can overheat the oils and result in a bitter cup of coffee.
Using this intermittent grinding method, you can inspect the beans after each burst to see if the beans are appropriately sized. If they are too large, tilt the blender gently and move the larger grinds into the blade’s path. Once you’ve reached the right grind size, remove it from the blender and repeat the process if necessary.
Once your beans are ground to the right size, you can brew your coffee using your tried-and-tested methods.
So, if you find yourself in a situation where you have whole coffee beans but not a grinder, it is possible to brew coffee beans without grinding them. The problem, however, is that it takes a long time and uses a lot of beans.
But you can also use a mortar and pestle or a blender to grind your coffee beans if you want to hasten the extraction time and brew your coffee the same way that you normally do.