How to Make Coffee in a Microwave: Our Best Tips

Nicole Austin

If there's a will, there's a way. Learn the simple steps to make microwave coffee.

One thing about me is I’m not going to go without coffee.

I remember a time in my life that I had the energy and enthusiasm to raise kids, clean a home, bake everything from scratch, get plenty of fresh air, and run on a very few hours of sleep. Well — those days are gone.

In place of that youthful energy that I so sorely miss is coffee. It doesn’t make up for a lack of sleep, but it sure tries, and I admire that gusto.

How to Make Coffee in a Microwave Photo

I can’t get more sleep. I can’t get more help around the house. But I can get more coffee. If I don’t have a coffee maker, I’ll find a way!

Cowboys used to make it over an open fire, but there’s no way I’m going to wake up in the morning and perform well in those conditions. I need something fast and easy.

Enter: the microwave.

Yes, the microwave is a great way to make a hot cup of coffee in a pinch, without too much of a compromise on how your coffee tastes.

Just follow these simple steps if you don't have a coffee machine in sight.

Ingredients for Brewing Coffee in the Microwave

Here's what you'll need to get started:

  • Ground coffee or instant coffee. My personal favorite ground coffee is Lavazza’s medium roast, but follow your personal preference, of course! You can easily grind whole beans from home using an electric coffee grinder. If you’re looking for a high-rated instant coffee, Maxwell House boasts massive amounts of high ratings at a great price.
  • Fresh water. Cold, fresh water will help for the best taste.
  • Sugar, or other sweeteners (optional). I tend to like some sweetness to my coffee, so I would probably add a small amount of sugar unless I’ve added cream. If you prefer black coffee for your caffeine fix, you're done!
  • Milk or cream (optional). Milk or cream of any variety, whether dairy or non-dairy, will cut some of the bitterness in your coffee.
  • Flavorings (optional). Bring your coffee to the next level by adding cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, or vanilla extract for an added kick.
Best Coffee for Cold Brew Picture

How to Make Microwave Coffee

If you want to speed up your busy mornings or just need a convenient solution without a traditional coffee maker, here’s the easiest way you can make a fresh cup of coffee using your microwave — no French press or espresso machine needed.

  1. Fill a microwave-safe coffee mug with water. Leave a small amount of space at the top to prevent hot water from boiling over, and to add your coffee later.
  2. Heat the water on high for 1-2 minutes. If you’re not sure how long to microwave water for your best results, start with one minute and increase in 20-second increments from there. Timing will vary based on your microwave’s power, as well as the age and recent usage of your appliance.
  3. Add coffee to the microwaved water.

Instant coffee: For every 8 oz of water, stir approximately 1-2 teaspoons of instant coffee. Adjust to fit your preferences, and always look at the packaging of your instant coffee — each brand will have recommendations for the best flavor. Instant coffee can also be used for other forms of coffee, such as whipped coffee, making it a versatile staple for coffee lovers.

Coffee grounds: Making microwave coffee using coffee grounds is more time consuming, but not impossible.

  • Add 1-2 tablespoons of coffee grounds, again +/- depending on your preferences, for every 8 oz of hot water. Allow to steep for 3-4 minutes, then strain the liquid to separate the coffee from the grounds. If you don’t have a strainer, simply transfer the coffee slowly into another mug and watch for grounds.
  • Add sweetener or cream in desired amounts to perfect your quick cup of coffee to your standards
  • Enjoy. By far the easiest step of all — drink your freshly brewed microwave coffee!
How to Make Coffee in a Microwave Picture

FAQ: How long can coffee creamer sit out?

How to Froth Milk in the Microwave

Despite possibly having only a microwave oven to prepare your morning cup of joe (or afternoon or evening, nobody is judging), you may still crave some of the finer touches. Or, maybe you’re simply feeling like making a milk froth without a lot of hassle and are hopeful you can prepare it in the microwave.

Well, you can! These easy steps are the best way to do it:

  • Fill a clean microwave-safe jar with milk.
  • Leave room at the top for foam to form!
  • Screw the lid of the jar on tightly, and shake vigorously for 30-40 seconds.
  • Remove the lid and place the jar in the microwave, heating it for 30 seconds without a cover. The foam should rise to the top.
  • Add to your already-brewed coffee and enjoy the added texture and flavor!
How to Clean a Coffee Maker Image

Making Microwave Coffee Using a Coffee Filter

Maybe you’ve got all the necessary items to make a drip coffee but not the actual pot itself. You can make a microwave coffee using a coffee filter.

You’re going to feel like MacGyver here! (If you don’t get the reference, leave me alone — I already said I’m not young anymore…)

  1. Fill your paper coffee filter with fresh, ground coffee.
  2. Fold the ends and seal them shut with a binder clip or any other equivalent item that is accessible to you.
  3. Heat the water for 1-2 minutes in the microwave, then add the clipped and coffee-filled filter for steeping.
  4. Allow to steep for 3-4 minutes, or until coffee is the desired strength.
  5. Remove the makeshift pouch and then prepare with cream or sugar as desired.

Alternatives for a filter such as a clean bar towel, dish cloth, cheesecloth, or cloth napkin are reusable and suitable substitutes for paper filters in a pinch. We strongly suggest you avoid using a paper towel, as they are chemically treated, and just won’t hold up when dunked in coffee. Do not try this at home!

How to Make Coffee with a Chemex Photo

Tips for Making the Best Microwave Coffee

We have another list for you! But seriously, if you want to make the best possible coffee in your microwave, these steps will really help.

  • Clean your microwave before using it. A dirty microwave, besides being unappetizing to look at or smell, can transfer unwanted flavors to your water, making your coffee taste poorly.
  • Use purified or filtered water for a base that is free of contaminants, like high mineral counts or added chemicals.
  • Do not add your coffee first. Heating the water first will prevent your liquid from “superheating,” a process where water is heated past boiling point but is not bubbling. When anything is added, even a simple spoon for stirring, this superheated water can erupt, causing burns, damage, or just a nasty mess.
  • Inspect your mug or cup before use. Look at the bottom of the mug to make sure it's a microwave-safe mug. Check the mug for any chips, cracks, or other blemishes that may cause the mug to break when heated. Make sure the mug or cup is free from any metals, which are not safe to put in a microwave.
  • Consider using ceramic or glass mugs. These materials help disperse heat evenly.
  • Don’t make your coffee in a disposable coffee cup. Many have plastic liners, which can melt, and they are simply not made to withstand the conditions of a microwave. You will risk contamination, leaking of hot coffee, and warped cups, so it’s best to simply avoid using them altogether in a microwave.
  • Stir the water well when removing it from the microwave to disperse any hot spots and help reduce the dangers of burns.

Pros and Cons of Making Coffee in the Microwave

Just like there are advantages of making coffee the easy way, there are also disadvantages, of course.


* Can be made quickly.

* Easy to make anywhere in a pinch.

* Simple cleanup.

*Single servings for solo drinkers.

* Inexpensive and does not require investments in coffee makers.

* No counter space or storage issues.


* Altered taste. Coffee made using other methods may not taste the same as coffee you are used to.

* Single servings may not be ideal for company.

* It requires some trial and error while perfecting the ratio of water to coffee.

If your coffee comes out too thin, don’t despair! We can help you get a thicker coffee!

How to Thicken Coffee Photo

Can You Reheat Coffee in a Microwave?

Now that you know how to make microwaved coffee, you may be wondering if it’s possible to reheat already made coffee using a microwave. It is possible, and we have a few tips and tricks to make it safer and more enjoyable for you!

  • Always use a microwave safe mug.
  • Heat the cold coffee at 20-30 second intervals to prevent overheating.
  • Stir between heating periods and when coffee reaches desired temperature.
  • Allow to cool for 10 or more seconds in the microwave with the door open before removing the coffee.
  • Check for a beverage setting on your microwave to help heat it more evenly and at the proper temperature.
  • Consider adding sweetener and/or cream to help with the increased more bitter taste that many people report when drinking coffee that has been reheated.

You can even reheat day-old coffee as long as it was stored in the fridge within two hours of being made. Put it in the fridge once it cools to room temperature.

Coffee that has been sitting around for more than 2 hours without refrigeration should be dumped and a new coffee made.

While it may seem wasteful, ask yourself if it’s worth the risk of illness.

Whether you’re new to coffee or feel like you’ve had a cup in your hand forever, there are always new ideas to create or enhance your favorite caffeinated beverage! Hopefully you’ve picked up a few new tricks to try next time you find yourself wanting your morning coffee with nothing more than a microwave on hand.

(If none of these approaches work for you, your best option may be to give up and go to a local coffee shop for your morning cup of coffee — or go ahead and invest in a coffee maker for your daily caffeine content! The additional cost will be worth it to some people.)

How To Make Iced Coffee With a French Press Photo

Love coffee? Explore our ultimate coffee guide.

Nicole is a self-published author of fiction novels, and a lover of food and spending time in the kitchen with her six children. She lives in coastal Maine where she loves exploring new recipes especially those that can save time, money and wow a crowd.

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