How Make Cowboy Coffee

An essential part of ANY overnight camping trip, is a good strong cup of coffee in the morning. Pour-overs, French press, percolator, Aero-press, instant and even electric machines are all viable options, but if you want a hearty cup, you opt for the grizzly-bear of coffee servings... aka "Cowboy Coffee".

What is Cowboy Coffee?

Cowboy coffee refers to a simple brewing method used by cowboys during the late 1800s and early 1900s. It became popular among settlers and ranchers in the American West, where access to sophisticated coffee-brewing equipment was limited.

The origins of cowboy coffee can be traced back to the Civil War era when soldiers brewed their coffee using similar techniques. It is believed that cowboys adapted this method while on cattle drives or working on remote ranches.

The process of making cowboy coffee is quite straightforward. Coarsely ground coffee beans are added to a pot, along with water. The pot is then placed over an open flame or hot coals, allowing the coffee to boil for a few minutes. Once the coffee has boiled, the pot is removed from the heat and left to cool slightly. During this time, the coffee grounds settle to the bottom of the pot, resulting in a strong and slightly gritty brew.

Cowboy coffee was typically brewed in a large, black pot called a "cowboy coffee pot" or "campfire coffee pot." These pots were often made of cast iron or enamel and had a wide base to facilitate brewing over an open flame. The simplicity and durability of these pots made them ideal for outdoor cooking.

Cowboy coffee became synonymous with the American cowboy lifestyle and was a staple in cowboy camps and chuckwagon meals. It provided a much-needed dose of caffeine and helped keep cowboys alert during long days of work.

Over time, the popularity of cowboy coffee waned with the advent of more convenient brewing methods, such as percolators and automatic drip coffee makers. However, it remains a nostalgic tradition for many and is still enjoyed by outdoor enthusiasts and those looking to experience a taste of the Old West.

Today, cowboy coffee is often brewed during camping trips or outdoor adventures, where simplicity and minimal equipment are valued. It serves as a reminder of the resilience and resourcefulness of the cowboys who relied on this brewing method to fuel their long days on the range.

So, next time you're "out on the range" or trail for the night and you're feeling like you need a boost of ruggedness, bust out a pot and make some REAL coffee. Your friends will either laugh or respect you for the rest of your trip.

Directions for How to Make Cowboy Coffee

  1. Fill your pot with six cups of water, leaving the other 1/4 cup measure of water aside for later. Or, The general rule of thumb is to use about 2 tablespoons of coffee for every cup of water.
  2. Bring your water to a rolling boil over your campfire or stove.
  3. Once it’s reached a boil, remove it from the heat and let it sit for 1 minute. 
  4. Add your coffee to the hot water, give everything a stir and let the grounds sit for about three minutes. 
  5. Stir again, and then let the coffee grounds sink to the bottom of the pot. 
  6. Pour the remaining cold water over any floating coffee grounds, which helps the grounds sink to the bottom. You can use an additional ounce or two if needed. I've also heard that dropping small cold stone into the mix will help the grounds sink as well.
  7. Carefully serve a cup, and enjoy the finest cowboy coffee the Wild West has to offer. If you want to limit the grounds, use something to filter them out, but that won't put as much hair on your chest so-to-speak.

Did You Know?

The Term "Cup of Joe" is a shortened version of two other slang terms for coffee: java and jamoke. Coffee is considered "a common man" drink and Joe is considered "a common man" name.