How to Make Coffee in a Microwave?

heating up a coffee cup in a microwave

Did you know that a microwave isn’t just for reheating leftovers? It’s also a handy tool for brewing coffee, especially when you don’t have a traditional coffee maker. When I was in college, without the luxury of freshly ground beans and a fancy machine, I often relied on my trusty microwave for making coffee during those late-night study sessions. Using just water and ground coffee beans is one way how to make coffee without a coffee maker. The process is surprisingly simple, and the result is a hot coffee in just minutes.


  1. Ground coffee or instant coffee: Quality matters. Opt for a good brand.
  2. Fresh water: Using fresh, cold water can make a difference in taste.
  3. Sugar (optional): Depending on your sweetness preference.
  4. Milk (optional): Skimmed, whole, almond, oat – any milk works!

Coffee Grounds or Instant Coffee

You can use both coffee grounds and instant coffee to make coffee in a microwave, but the methods and results differ:

If you opt for freshly ground coffee, the process becomes a bit more intricate than with instant coffee. You’ll start by heating water in the microwave. Once it’s hot, add the coffee grounds directly into the water, allowing them to steep for a few minutes. After steeping, you’ll need to strain the liquid to remove the coffee grounds, which can be a bit messy. The result will be similar to a French press-style coffee.

Using instant coffee is a more straightforward method for microwave coffee-making. Heat the water in the microwave, then simply stir in the instant coffee granules until dissolved. There’s no need for straining, and it’s quicker.

In conclusion, while instant coffee offers convenience and is the most commonly used method for microwave coffee, it’s entirely possible to use regular coffee grounds. It just requires a bit more effort in terms of steeping and straining.

Recipe for Microwave Coffee

  1. Water First: Start by filling a microwave-safe coffee mug with water. It’s crucial to leave a little space at the top, so the water doesn’t overflow when it boils.
  2. Heat: Heat water on high for 1-2 minutes. I’ve found that 1.5 minutes is perfect for my 1000-watt microwave, but timings might vary based on your microwave’s power.
  3. Add Coffee:
    • For Instant Coffee: Once the water is hot, stir in your instant coffee. For every 8 ounces of water, I use about 1-2 teaspoons of instant coffee. Adjust to fit your taste.
    • For Coffee Grounds: Add your coffee grounds directly into the hot water, allowing them to steep for 3 to 4 minutes. After steeping, strain the liquid to remove the coffee grounds. For every 8 ounces of water, use roughly 1-2 tablespoons of coffee grounds, but you can adjust based on your preference.
  4. Sweeten and Cream: Here’s where you can get creative. Add sugar, honey, or even a flavored syrup. If you’re using milk, warm it a bit before adding, so it doesn’t cool down your coffee.
  5. Enjoy: Sit back and savor your microwave-made coffee. Maybe pair it with a cookie?

Tip: I recommend to heat the pure water first in the microwave before adding the coffee, and there are a couple of reasons for this:

By heating the water first, you can achieve a more consistent temperature throughout the water. When you add coffee to this heated water, it allows for a more even extraction of flavors from the coffee grounds or instant coffee granules. If you were to mix the coffee with cold water and then microwave it, the uneven heating of the microwave could lead to patches of over-extraction or under-extraction.

Microwaving water with dissolved substances, like coffee, can sometimes lead to “superheating.” Superheated water is water that has been heated past its boiling point but hasn’t actually started boiling. When something (like a coffee granule or spoon) is then added to this superheated water, it can cause the water to erupt violently and boil all at once, potentially causing burns or making a mess.

By heating the water first and then adding the coffee, you not only get a better-tasting brew but also ensure a safer coffee-making process in the microwave.

spilled coffee in microwave
To avoid this

The Taste

In my opinion, there can be a taste difference between coffee in the microwave and a freshly brewed cup of drip coffee. An espresso maker allows for more even heating and better extraction of flavors, especially when brewing with fresh grounds. Microwaved coffee, especially when reheating, can sometimes have a slightly altered taste due to uneven heating. The difference might not be significant for casual drinkers, but avid coffee lovers like me might notice a subtle change in flavor and aroma.


Is Microwaved Water Different?

From my experience, microwaved water is no different than water boiled on a stove. It serves its purpose in providing a hot base for your coffee.

Can You Microwave Cold Coffee?

Absolutely. There’ve been countless times I’ve forgotten about my coffee, only to find it cold and unappealing. A quick zap in the microwave, and it’s as good as new!

How Long to Microwave Cold Coffee?

Depends on how hot you want it. For a slightly warm cup, 30 seconds does the trick. If you prefer it piping hot, aim for 1 minute. Just keep an eye on it so it doesn’t overflow or become too hot.

Do I Need Microwave Coffee Cups?

While any “microwave-safe” cup should work, I’ve always leaned toward ceramic mugs. They hold the heat well and feel so cozy in hand. Glass mugs are another option, but avoid any with metal parts.

Can You Microwave McDonalds Coffee Cups?

Tempting as it might be, I’d advise against it. Many disposable coffee cups, like those from McDonald’s, have a plastic lining. This can melt in the microwave. Plus, the risk of the cup warping or leaking makes it safer to pour your coffee into a microwave-safe mug before reheating.

Now that you’ve got the extended scoop on microwave coffee-making, give it a shot. Trust me; it’s a game-changer, especially on those days when you need a caffeine fix without the fuss!

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