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How to Make Coffee in the Microwave

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Making a hot cup of coffee to kick-start your day only requires three things: ground coffee, a mug, and hot water. Filters and fancy equipment can be nice to have and change the coffee-making experience but aren’t strictly necessary. As long as you have ground coffee and hot water, you’re good to go, and how you heat that water doesn’t matter much…or does it? If you’re looking to save time and make coffee in the microwave, you might have heard that heating water in the microwave isn’t the best option for making coffee.

This article will explore how to make coffee in the microwave and discuss an important issue related to heating water in the microwave.

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Coffee inside microwave oven_Shutterstock_Monkey Business Images

How to Make Coffee in the Microwave

To start, let’s talk about the best way to make coffee in the microwave. If you use a manual brewer, like a French press or pour-over, simply heat your water in the microwave until it boils, let it sit for 30 seconds to a minute, and then proceed as usual. The end goal, after all, is to have your ground coffee come in contact with hot, near-boiling water. But what should you do if you only have a mug, coffee, and water?
5 from 1 vote
Cook Time 3 mins
Resting Time 1 min
Total Time 5 mins
Course Drinks
Cuisine American
Servings 1
Calories 1 kcal

Equipment

  • Microwave
  • Microwave-safe mug
  • Spoon

Ingredients
 

  • 12 ounces water
  • 1 ounce ground coffee

Instructions
 

  • Fill your mug with water and place it in the microwave. Water takes about 2-3 minutes to boil in the microwave, depending on your microwave’s wattage. A benefit of heating water in your mug is your coffee will stay hot for longer since the mug is hot and won’t suck heat out of your coffee.
  • Let the water sit for about 30 seconds, so it cools to approximately 205ºF, the optimal temperature for brewing coffee.
  • Stir in your ground coffee. If you don’t have a filter, you’ll have to make do by leaving the grounds in your mug. This isn’t as bad as it sounds at first and won’t taste overly strong and bitter if you drink your coffee quickly.
  • Be careful to avoid the sludgy mess at the bottom of your mug. We’ve wound up with a mouthful of grounds before, and it is not something we care to experience again.

Notes

Of course, if you have a filter, we recommend you use it. Just because you’re using the microwave to heat water doesn’t mean your coffee experience has to be different from your usual routine. We like to use a French press in our regular coffee routine, and it is the perfect brewer to use in combination with the microwave.

Nutrition

Calories: 1kcal
Keyword how to make coffee in the microwave

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Is Microwaved Water Different?

The short answer is no. Boiling water is boiling water, and how it reaches the boiling state doesn’t matter. However, there is one thing to be aware of when heating water in the microwave that is extremely important.

Sometimes, water heated in the microwave actually gets hotter than boiling, a phenomenon called “superheating.” Wait a minute, isn’t water that’s hotter than boiling just steam? Usually, yes, but microwaved water is a different beast because of how a microwave works.

how to make coffee in the microwave
Image: Roman Kochetkov, Shutterstock

We won’t make this into a physics lesson, but microwaves heat water using a completely different mechanism than traditional methods like boiling water on a burner on the stove. When water is boiled on a stovetop, convection causes hot water to rise in the pot, stirring and disrupting the coffee. The action of stirring causes bubbles to form and, ultimately, for water to boil.

When you heat water in a microwave, convection doesn’t happen, and sometimes water heats up without showing any of the usual signs of boiling. It might appear as if the water is cool when in reality, it is superheated to or beyond its boiling point. When superheated water is disturbed, it will violently boil all at once, creating a dangerous explosion of boiling water and steam.

To avoid accidentally superheating your water in the microwave, only heat the water in short bursts of 1-2 minutes. After each time you heat the water, give your mug a bump to disrupt the water and get it sloshing around. Once you’re sure it isn’t superheated, you can put the microwave back on and repeat the process in 1-2 minute chunks until your water boils.

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Conclusion

Microwaves are handy gadgets and are useful for making coffee quickly. If you use a manual brewer, you can use microwaved water in exactly the same way you would normally use hot water. If you don’t have a filter and need a quick and dirty way to make a cup of coffee, try our microwaved coffee recipe. It won’t make the cleanest cup you’ve ever had, to put it mildly, but it can be surprisingly drinkable when you’re in a pinch.

RELATED READ: How to Make Cowboy Coffee (So Easy!)


Featured Image: Monkey Business Images, Shutterstock

Sean Brennan

Sean’s obsession with coffee started when he received his first French press as a gift almost ten years ago. Since then, his love of coffee – and the number of coffee gadgets he owns – has grown considerably. A scientist by training, there is no stone he has left unturned in the never-ending quest for the perfect cup of coffee. He has spent many hours tuning his pour-over technique, thinking about how to best compare grind quality, and worrying about whether the Nicaraguan or Kenyan beans will make the best cold brew.These days he favors the Hario V60, and starts each day by hand grinding his coffee before enjoying a cup prepared with care and attention to detail.

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