I've been thinking about this for a while, and was wondering if it was safe.

Nowadays, we're sometimes ina big rush and there's not enough time. Can I simply drop a spoonful of my favorite cheap coffee, i.e Maxwell, in a cup of water (should be boiled ) ; and then get started with my day?

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I realize they make instant coffee, but which is slightly more pricy. Also, I feel that instant coffee has a somewhat artificial taste.

I am wondering about the safety aspect of this, though. Is there any potential harm to ingesting some raw coffee grounds?

  • related: coffee.stackexchange.com/questions/2017/…
    – Stephie
    Nov 16, 2015 at 17:34
  • 1
    And you might want to specify: What kind of "unsafe" were you thinking about?
    – Stephie
    Nov 16, 2015 at 20:04
  • 1
    People eat coffee beans all the time. Chocolate covered beans anyone?
    – Rob
    Nov 16, 2015 at 22:33

6 Answers 6


It boils down to taste - some people even chew whole beans.

Safety-wise there are no concerns1 and the method you propose is not unheard of, it goes by the term "Cowboy coffee" and others. Some preparation methods even quickly boil the grounds and water (Turkish coffee), other sources warn against pouring boiling water over your grounds and suggest letting the water cool a few degrees first.

It is up to you to decide whether you like the grainy residue you might taste if you don't let the grounds settle enough before drinking.

So, go ahead and do a taste test. You can always pour your coffee through a sieve or use the leftovers for drip coffee.

1 There is some discussion whether the slightly higher content of coffee oils compared to filtered matters healthwise, but that's a very vague subject, IMHO. Other brewing methods bring more oils as well.

  • how much powder/beans do you take? Is measuring by weight an accurate comparison throughout the different brands?
    – Pacerier
    Mar 3, 2019 at 7:24
  • @Pacerier measuring by weight is always a good idea - but my gut feeling would be that in a rush - which is the premise of the question - the asker will simply grab a spoon. As for the preferred amount, it boils down to taste and cup size, obviously. I’d expect somewhere in the vicinity of a teaspoon (plus-minus), just like for pour-over.
    – Stephie
    Mar 3, 2019 at 7:35

Seems like a bad way to start a day to me. This method will over brew the coffee and give it a gritty texture (especially at the bottom) but as the other poster have mentioned it really just boils down to taste. Experimentation is the only way to find out what you like.

To what I think is the deeper point of the question. How can I drink coffee without time to prepare it? Many people use a coffee maker and with a timer. If you prepare the machine the night before it would actually take less time in the morning then your proposed method.

Also consider structuring you morning differently. You could use a french press or coffee sock, and perform a morning task like brushing your teeth and washing your face while the coffee steeps for 3-4 mins. Then you could remove the grounds and eliminate the over brewing and grittiness issues.

  • 3
    While I basically agree, brushing teeth first and then drinking coffee is IMHO a safe method to kill all taste. Minty coffee, anyone?
    – Stephie
    Nov 17, 2015 at 17:37

There are absolutely no safety problems here.

For reference, what you are describing actually was THE method of brewing coffee before the invention of filters! (See for example the wikipedia article, especially the part about "Boiling".)

Also this is basically equivalent to a preparation with the french press, with the only difference being that gravity moves the coffee grounds to the bottom instead of a filter/mesh.

The only disadvantages might be that you likely will have some coffee grounds in the last sip(s), which is why they are often discarded with that preparation method. And obviously, you can't easily stop the brewing process, which might or might not lead to a worse taste (I don't have experience with that).


As others have said in the short term there is no issue. In the long term (if you did this daily) there is potential that it could raise your cholesterol. Coffee has a chemical called cafestol in it that is mostly removed by filters when it goes through a normal brewing process (although it may have other neuroprotective benefits). Cafestol would be present in any coffee that didn't go through a filter (french press, turkish coffee, etc.). I don't let this stop me if I'm in a hurry though.

Wikipedia entry for Cafestol


I have been doing this for over 20 years,

Ground fresh roasted beans(if you use pre grounded its not going to be as good) and two tea spoons in a cup. Pour hot water on wait 1 min, if you want put sugar +then milk, stir it again wait 1 min and grounds will settle down at the bottom, if you GRIND it fine you will get fuller taste and no mess in your mouth, courser grind will not release the taste in such quick brewing


Pouring hot water over coffee grounds has been the main coffee preparation method here in eastern Europe (and likely many other places) since forever, until recently when the espresso machines became widely available. I never found any problem with it; if you let the grounds settle down correctly, you should be able to avoid even the gritty texture on the end.

Ingesting the grounds gives bowel problems to some people; if this is your case you should avoid the grounds to prevent long-term health issues from prolonged irritation. (In my very humble opinion, that is still better than drinking instant coffee.)

OTOH, settling down takes some time for the grounds, and you need to let the coffee sit for a few minutes to get it to correct temperature and extract the "usual" workable taste out of it. If you're in a hurry and really need the coffee, it might be much better for you to have a jar of coldbrew ready, and just pour hot water over a half cup of it in the morning.

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