Make Coffee Without Grinding Beans: Perfect Brewing

Have you ever wondered if you can make coffee without grinding beans? Dive into our exploration of coffee brewing methods, where we examine whether unground coffee beans can deliver a satisfying cup of joe.

Make coffee without grinding
Grinding the beans in a coffee grinder degrades the flavor through oxidation

You can make coffee beans without grinding them. However, it’s slower and more time-consuming. Fill a mason jar with whole coffee beans and hot water, put it inside a suitable sauce container or pot, and boil it.

Although this method takes at least an hour, it has some merits. Coffee grinders don’t do much to improve the taste or flavor of coffee. They crush the roasted pods into smaller particles to help them brew quickly when added to water.

In fact, the best coffee grinders are the ones that do the least damage to the flavor of the beans during the grinding process. Talking about damage, usually happen in two ways: First, grinding the beans in a coffee grinder degrades the flavor through oxidation. Second, a cheap grinder gives particles of different sizes that affect the extraction process. What grinders offer is speed and convenience.

What Happens When Coffee Beans Are Not Ground Properly?

Coffee beans and ground coffee
Failing to get that right flavor from your coffee beans is not due to the ingredients

Improper grinding results in particles of inconsistent sizes that extract at different rates. For example, the finer particles extra faster, while the bigger ones may take time. When the bigger ones extract completely, the smaller particles become bitter due to over-extraction.

If you stop the brewing process quickly, this will result in under-extraction and your coffee will have a weak flavor. Failing to get that right flavor from your coffee beans is not due to the ingredients but the process itself.

The richest and most flavorful cups of coffee are made when the beans are ground in an expensive grinder that delivers homogenous particles without depleting the flavor.

Sadly, even the most high-end grinders are not absolutely perfect. So, why use them in the first place? The biggest reason behind grinding beans is perhaps to quicken the brewing process and not make it wait for too long to get a cup of coffee. Until now, I thought whole beans may never be extracted in the water and even if they did, the process might take an entire day. To my surprise, I was so wrong!

I tried extracting whole coffee beans without grinding them and voila! I created a rich and delicious cup of Java in just one hour. If you would like to try it out too, find the recipe below:

How To Brew Coffee Beans Without Grinding Them

Ingredients and equipment required: Whole Arabica coffee beans, a sauce container (pot), a mason jar, and water heated to boiling temperature.

  • Fill the mason jar with whole coffee beans to the 3 oz level. Refer to the markings on the side of the jar for accurate measurement.
  • Now add one cup of hot water. You can see that the coffee beans will start floating slightly above the water level.
  • Put the mason jar inside the sauce container and fill the container with hot water to the same level as the water level on the jar.
  • Now place the container on the stove and let it simmer with 50% heat for one hour. You can increase or decrease the temperature if necessary.
  • After one hour, remove the mason jar from the container using a towel and tongs. Pour out the brewed coffee and leave the coffee beans (that are now darker than before) behind.
  • Relax and enjoy a cup of aromatic freshly brewed coffee.

When Can You Brew Coffee Beans Without Grinding Them?

There are certain situations when brewing whole coffee beans, without a coffee maker, instead of grinding them can be extremely useful. Think about the camping trips or a power failure where coffee beans are available but a grinder is not. Wouldn’t it be great to make coffee without grinding them and surprising your friends with an amazing drink? Read our guide to best coffee for camping.

When can you brew coffee beans without grinding them?
Brewing whole coffee beans during camping

Another scenario is if you live in a dorm or hostel and your budget does not permit you to get a grinder. If instant coffee does not satisfy your cravings, try making coffee using whole beans instead.

Brewing whole coffee beans can also save the depletion and degradation rate after grinding beans. Below, I have mentioned three factors that contribute to the degradation of beans after grinding. You can use whole beans to prevent degradation altogether. You might also be interested in our explainer on grinding coffee beans in a blender.

What Are The Factors That Cause Degradation Post Grinding?

1. Oxidation Sets In

The coffee beans comprise complex compounds that lend a unique aroma and flavor to the brew. Many of these compounds are unstable, which implies they can change their composition through oxidation.

During oxidation, the compounds interact with air molecules to form different types of molecules, releasing certain aromas and flavors from the beans. Oxidation is responsible for lending coffee its unique taste and making it so popular.

Grinding the coffee beans immediately begins the oxidation process, which is great if you prepare your drink immediately. If you wait for long, the taste and flavor begin to deplete. That’s primarily why pre-ground coffee does not taste as delicious as fresh ground.

To understand this better, let’s take the example of an apple. When you cut an apple into pieces, the oxidation process kick-starts. If you do not consume the apple immediately, the pieces turn red due to oxidation. The same thing happens with ground coffee, it is just that you cannot see it!

2. Carbon Dioxide Depletion

You probably know that coffee beans contain oils that lend that unique flavor to the brew and carbon dioxide is the catalyst to transfer the oils into the coffee. When you grind beans, it exposes a greater surface area for the carbon dioxide to escape.

The coffee beans are extremely porous, so grinding only worsens the situation. It works well when you brew immediately, but depletion slowly sets in if you store the pre-ground beans. It will lose most of the flavor if you do not store the grounds in an airtight container.

3. Exposure To Moisture

This is somewhat similar to the factor discussed above. The oils in coffee beans are water-soluble; when you add hot water, the oils dissolve into the water to give you that awesome aroma and rich taste. Perhaps you already know this.

However, it takes a lot of water to dissolve the oils. Even the moisture in the air is enough to dilute your beans and deplete the effect. After you grind the beans, the surface area increases for more moisture to dissolve the oils.

Even the minimum amount of moisture in the air is enough to hasten the dilution process and affect the integrity of the oils.

4. Contamination Of Flavor

No matter how careful you are while storing the pre-ground coffee beans, you may have no control over the strong odors floating in the kitchen and inside the refrigerator. The grounds can be easily contaminated by the smell of the onions you just finished cutting or the leftover crab curry sitting in the fridge.

If the thought of drinking an onion or crab-flavored coffee sends a chill down your spine, you may consider brewing coffee beans without grinding them. This saves you the mess and lets you enjoy the coffee at its wholesome best! If you like this article, read our companion piece explaining how to make coffee without a coffee filter.


  • Aisling O'Connor

    Aisling is an Irish food and drinks writer and journalist fueled by coffee and herbal tea. She followed up her journalism degree with nutrition studies. Find Aisling on LinkedIn.