Cowboy Coffee Vs. French Press (A Quick Guide)

Last Updated on February 19, 2022 by John Moretti

There are several ways to make a cup of coffee, and each person has their preference when it comes to their perfect cup. Two popular ways to make coffee that are very similar to each other are the French press and cowboy coffee style. Before deciding on which method is better for you, it’s always good to know the differences between the coffee-making processes.

The cowboy coffee technique directly adds coffee grounds to boiled water without using a filter, typically with coffee grounds in the final product. A French press fully immerses the coffee grounds in the water, plunging them to the bottom and preventing them from getting into your final cup.

We know the fundamental differences between the cowboy coffee-making process and making coffee with a French press. We can now delve deeper into other differences between the two methods, including their production processes, tools, pros and cons, and final coffee cup outcomes. After looking at these factors, we can fully understand the differences between cowboy coffee vs. French press coffee.

Cowboy Coffee Vs. French Press

What’s The Difference Between Cowboy Coffee and French Press?

Cowboy coffee is typically made over an open flame, at a campsite, out on the trail, or anywhere where a coffee maker is unavailable or there isn’t any electricity. It’s always an excellent plan to measure how much water fits into your cup beforehand then you will not make too much coffee and overfill your cup when it’s ready.

You can use your French press anywhere as long as you can acquire some near-boiling water. It is an immersion device that fully immerses the coffee grounds into hot water. Once the water covers the coffee, there is a steeping period before filtering the coffee using a mesh sieve and a plunger. 

How Do You Make Cowboy and French Press Coffee?

Cowboy Vs. French Press

Both of these coffee-making processes have their unique production methods. Let’s look at how you can make the best cup of coffee using these coffee brewing methods.

How Do You Make Cowboy Coffee?

To make the best tasting cup of cowboy coffee, you can follow these easy steps:

  • Once your water is boiling, remove your water from the fire or heat source, and let it cool for 30 seconds (this step is crucial as the water needs to drop below 200° Fahrenheit as this is considered the best temperature for brewing coffee)
  • For every eight ounces of hot water, you use you add two tablespoons of your preferred ground coffee
  • Stir well
  • Let your coffee and water mixture sit for two minutes
  • Stir it well again
  • Let it sit for another two minutes
Coffee Pot
  • After this brewing period, you pour ½ cup of cold water onto the grounds, which will be floating on the top of the pot, helping them to sink to the bottom
  • Now you can slowly pour your coffee into a cup; this process needs to be slow to make sure that the coffee grounds stay at the bottom of the pot and do not transfer into your mug
  • Sit back and enjoy your coffee

How Do You Make Cup Of Coffee In A French Press?

French Press

To make the best cup of coffee using a French press, you can follow these easy steps:

  • You want to add around 60 – 70 grams of ground coffee per liter of water; this is one of the best water-to-coffee ratios
  • You can then add your boiling water straight to your press; many people prefer to let their let boiling water stand for around 30 seconds to cool down as water that is too hot can burn your coffee
  • Now you can use one of two methods here: 
    • The first is that you can add a bit of water, then stir, then add a bit more water, repeating this process until you have added your required amount of water 
    • The second is that you can add all of your water in one go stirring it afterward
  • Around 40 – 45 seconds after your initial stir, you should give your coffee mix another gentle stir
French Press Brewing
  • Now you can allow your coffee to brew; many people allow 3 – 4 minutes for brewing time, this is also the best time if you are using a fine ground, but depending on your preferred flavor and the coarseness of your coffee ground, you can allow it to brew for 6 – 8 minutes
  • Once your coffee has brewed to your satisfaction, you can plunge; do this gently so as not to agitate your coffee grounds
  • Pour your coffee into a cup, sit back, and enjoy your brew

Cowboy Coffee Vs. French Press- Pros And Cons

Cup Of Coffee

Cowboy coffee


  • Very easy to make, requiring little skill and equipment
  • You can use this technique almost anywhere


  • It might not be the best cup of coffee that you have ever had
  • There is a big chance you will get some coffee grounds in your cup
  • There is also a high chance that you might burn your coffee or yourself in the coffee-making process

French press

French Press Coffee


  • It makes a robust, clean cup of coffee
  • You control the brewing time and, therefore, the strength and taste of your coffee
  • It can make a total of eight cups of coffee in one go
  • You can also use a French press to make loose-leaf tea or cold-brewed coffee


  • Making this coffee this way is more complicated than just pressing a button; the process needs monitoring, the coffee ground size matters, the water temperatures matter, and brewing time matters
  • Depending on your equipment type, you could end up with some sludge or sediment at the bottom of your cup
  • Clean up can be a process as you have to wash your equipment, making sure that you do not let too much of the coffee grounds go down your sink

Cowboy Coffee Vs. French Press – The Final Product

Cup Of Coffee
  • Coffee made using the cowboy coffee process is often drunk black and is a robust and full-bodied cup of coffee. You will most likely get some coffee grounds in your cup even if you are very careful in the pouring process. 
  • Coffee made using a French press is more tailored to the individual brewers’ taste as you can control the strength and, ultimately, the flavor as you decide on how long it brews. This method usually produces a full robust flavored cup of coffee.


There are pros and cons to using the cowboy coffee technique and the French press. You can make cowboy coffee anywhere as long as you have your coffee, a pot, water, and a heating source such as a fire. It makes a pretty good cup of coffee, but you are almost guaranteed to get some coffee ground in your cup. 

Making coffee with a French press requires the press, your preferred coffee ground, and boiled water. It makes a wonderfully robust, flavorful cup of coffee. It also allows you to make your coffee more to your specific tastes.