Grinding Coffee Beans Without a Grinder?

Grinding Coffee Beans Without a Grinder?

You might be surprised how many times this question has been asked on online forums. Once you’ve become the optimal coffee snob, you tend to forget that at some point int he past, you probably didn’t even know what a burr grinder was. People get gifted bags of coffee sometimes and inevitably get a whole bean because the person buying them coffee as a gift, knows nothing about coffee. If you’re in this boat, or you find yourself suddenly with a grinder not working. I’ve come up with 5 ways to manually grind and make coffee without a grinder. Let’s jump into it!

Can you make coffee without grinding beans?

Absolutely, YES! The idea behind grinding coffee beans is to get more surface area, extract the more flavors and make the coffee brewing process faster. But you can brew coffee without ever putting it through a grinder. Keep in mind if you don’t grind your coffee (or you don’t have a grinder), you’ll need to brew the coffee longer to extract flavors from the coffee beans. Check out the 5 tips below on how to make coffee without a grinder.

5 Tips On How to Grind Coffee Beans without Grinder (TL;DR)

Okay so maybe 3 out 5 are an actual grind method, but 5 ways to legitimately make coffee without a grinder can be done with a little bit of elbow grease. But here are some quick tips to make coffee without a grinder anyway.

  • Take your bag to your grocery store or local coffee shop to grind
  • Make Cowboy coffee
  • Smash the beans with a Meat Tenderizer
  • Make Cold Brew Coffee Instead
  • Use a Mortar and Pestle

1. Take your bag to a local coffee shop

This tip would be the most ideal if you have the time. Most local coffee shops will have no issue grinding your beans completely free, I use to do it back in the day (10 years ago ) when I didn’t have a grinder at home. If you don’t have a local coffee shop near you, most grocery stores have coffee grinders, usually in the coffee section where you can buy bulk coffee. I would certainly ask first to see if it’s not an issue to grind your beans. I remember a few years ago, I would buy whole beans for my parents whenever I visited, but they had a really poor blade grinder that made chunks of coffee. I would always stop by the closest coffee shop, tell them the type of coffee maker my parents had (it was your typical drip maker) and the local coffee shop would grind the beans for best use with drip brewer. Because of that coffee kind gesture every time I went there, that coffee shop got a lot of business from me later when I took friends and family there.

2. Make Cowboy Coffee

You find yourself in the woods with a bunch of unground coffee beans, what do you do hot shot? Make cowboy coffee of course. I got over the steps in detail on how to make Cowboy coffee while camping here. Follow those steps with the only difference of not having ground coffee. I would suggest for you to put coffee in a Ziploc bag or something similar and smash the coffee beans first with a blunt object in your camping bag. If you don’t have a Ziploc bag, use a sock (the clean one ideally) and smash the coffee in that. If you don’t smash the beans first, you’ll need to boil the coffee beans longer due to the lack of surface area. By smashing up the beans you’ll give the hot water more surface area to extract coffee sock flavor from. Once your coffee beans are uniformly smashed, brew cowboy coffee as directed on the link above.

3. Smash the Beans with a Meat Tenderizer

Wrap up the beans in a cloth (or freezer bag), take a meat tenderizer and smash the coffee beans evenly. I would actually suggest putting the beans in a freezer bag and then wrapping it up in a cloth before smashing it. The plastic bag will probably puncture due to sharp broken beans, but the cloth will prevent a messy spillage from hammering the crap out of your beans. Don’t have too much fun smashing up beans, keep it civil and even. The idea is the bean sizes are as close to coarse as possible so you can make a semi-respectable French Press coffee.

4. Make Cold Brew Coffee

Probably one of the easiest ways to make coffee without a grinder is to simply make cold brew coffee. I would recommend using a 1 cup of whole bean coffee to 4 cups of water ratio. Put the coffee beans (whole) in a clean cloth and add water and leave it in the refrigerator at least 24 hours or longer if you want stronger coffee, it will naturally brew the coffee right in the pitcher (or whatever container you have). I’ve actually done this by boiling the water first, add my bean in a thin cloth and put the whole bag of whole coffee beans in a tea pitcher. Pour hot water in the teach pitcher and leave it to brew. You don’t need to use a cloth if you don’t want to, I would highly recommend it so you’re not fishing out coffee beans as your pour cold brew coffee. I’m also assuming that you don’t own a cold brew maker, if you do, then follow those steps by the manufacturer.

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A tea pitcher like this one shown below would work just fine, or something similar to it.

Steps to make cold brew without a grinder

  1. 1 Add whole beans and wrap it in a clean cloth
  2. 2 Drop the bag of beans in the pitcher
  3. 2 Boil water, use 1 cup of beans for every 4 cups of water
  4. 3 Once the water is boiling, let it sit for about 30 seconds and slowly pour the hot water into the pitcher
  5. 4 Close to the top and enjoy your coffee 12 – 24 hours later

5. Mortar and Pestle

If you own a mortar and pestle, you can certainly grind beans in it! My only issue with this method is that not everyone may own a mortar and pestle. But this method is probably the best way to consistently grind coffee manually. This method will allow you to grind to the size that you want with fairly consistent results. I actually tried this method of grinding out beans to write this article and made pour-over coffee right after, it worked surprisingly well. This should probably come to no surprise since the mortar and pestle were really made to crush up things like seeds, herbs, and spices, so coffee beans should be no issue. Here are the steps and grind sizes that I ended up with after using the mortar and pestle method of grind beans.

Final Thoughts & Conclusion

One final solution for making coffee without a grinder, is to just maybe buy pre-ground coffee? I doubt you’re in the boat, I hope those tips & tricks above how to manually grind the coffee, No Grinder Edition. Another issue about manually grinding coffee is getting consistent grind size. While the mortar and pestle worked well enough, it was still way too much work for a cup of coffee, let alone a 1lb bag of whole coffee beans.

What about grind coffee in a food processor or blender?

If you have either one of those tools, you could technically go down the route of grinding beans with a blender (Nurtibullet comes to mind) or a food processor. You’ll still run into the same issue of ground consistency. If you’re really set on making coffee with a blender, then use a french press, if you have one, to make the coffee. The ground sizes using a food processor will be chunky to fine in size since both use blades to chop up the beans. It’s not ideal, but it will work if you’re out of ideas and none of the above suggestions is an option.

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