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What Happens When You Boil Whole Coffee Beans?

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Not everybody has a coffee grinder. Have you ever stayed at a vacation rental and your morning coffee routine went terribly wrong? It happens to the best of us. Either we buy the wrong type of beans or don’t have the equipment to make our favorite cup of joe.

When you’re faced with a coffee challenge, the easiest answer is usually to hop in the car and drive to the nearest Starbucks or local coffee shop.

But what if that isn’t an option? What if you’re looking for an answer to the challenge you face without bailing and paying a premium for your morning coffee?

Today we’re going to address what you can do if you’re in a situation where you have whole coffee beans and no coffee grinder. What should you do?

Can you boil coffee beans whole and still make a nice drink?

The answer is, yes, you can!

coffee beans on cup

Boiling Used to Be How It Was Done

Before the 1930s, boiling coffee was how people prepared their drinks. The whole coffee beans went into a pot with boiling water and out came coffee! The method was very simple. All you needed was a pot filled with water, a source of heat to make the water boil, and coffee beans tossed in.

The problem, though, was that people eventually discovered better ways to brew coffee. They found that boiling the coffee beans typically produced coffee that didn’t taste all that great.

The problem with boiling the unground coffee is that some beans will be in the boiling water for too long, and it can end up spoiling a whole batch.

The flavor ends up being more bitter than the smooth, rich flavor we expect from our coffee today. That’s why virtually everyone prefers coffee grinds to whole beans these days.

How Long Should You Boil Whole Coffee Beans?

For the best results when boiling whole coffee beans, you’ll need about an hour. Anything longer tends to make the coffee bitter and ruins the flavor. What we’re going for here is a nice, smooth cup of coffee full of the rich flavor you’re used to.

You don’t, however, simply want to toss whole beans into a pot with water if you can avoid it. There is a better way to boil whole beans when either you find yourself without a fancy grinder or you want to try a new way to make your favorite morning drink. Here’s how:

pouring coffee beans into cup

Step 1 – Use the right amount of beans

You don’t want to use too many beans or too few. Typically, a cup or ¾ of a cup of coffee beans will do the trick.

Put them in a glass jar, like a mason jar, and fill the jar up with enough hot water so that the beans are floating. The water should be very hot – like just done boiling hot.

Step 2 – Place the jar in a pot of boiling water

Then, take your jar with water and whole coffee beans, and place it in a pot of boiling water. Obviously, you want your jar to be large enough so that it hits the bottom of the pot and tall enough so that boiling water doesn’t get inside of it.

The water that’s boiling in the pot should be at least somewhat comparable to the height of the water inside the mason jar.

Step 3 – Simmer the coffee beans for about an hour

It will take approximately one hour for your coffee to brew. You should stir the beans every so often to make sure every bean is getting roughly the same amount of heat over the entire hour.

You will know you are done when the top of the water inside of the mason jar starts to take on a darker color and begins to look like coffee!

Step 4 – Strain and you’re all done

Once the water in the mason jar starts to look like coffee, you’re ready to drink. Using a strainer, pour the contents of the mason jar out and into your favorite mug to make sure you’re not drinking any whole beans.

Once it is in the drink, you can add any creamer, sugar, whipped cream, or anything else you love with your coffee.

cup of steaming hot coffee

The Anywhere Cup of Coffee

Brewing coffee with whole beans and boiling water may not be for everyone. But it’s helpful to know how to boil whole beans for when you’re in a pinch. Some people swear by making their coffee by boiling whole coffee beans, and it’s part of their daily ritual.

If that sounds like too much for you, at least you know that you can make a decent cup when you are on a camping trip or when you come home from the grocery store with whole beans thinking you had ground coffee beans the whole time.

Playing with Flavors

Most seasoned coffee drinkers know that the type of beans used and the preparation method have a big impact on coffee taste.

Whenever you make coffee a new way, whether you are using a French press or the first few times you use a new espresso machine, you’ll see that how you make your coffee affects the flavor.

The same goes for boiling coffee beans whole. It’s going to taste slightly different than coffee made with grounds. Additionally, the amount of water you use, the time you boil it, and other factors will influence how it tastes once you pour it into your mug.

Try different brewing times and other changes to find how to make what tastes best to you.

pouring coffee into cup


This method of brewing coffee may take longer than what you’re used to, but the wait is worth it. It’s certainly a throwback to earlier times before everything became so automatic.

Decades ago, before coffee capsules and automatic dispensers, this was how coffee was made for millions of people around the world.

Many places still brew coffee from boiling whole beans because of the ritual and deep tradition it embodies.