What Is Cowboy Coffee? (Solved)

Last Updated on July 13, 2023 by Barry Gray

When one thinks of cowboy coffee, images of campfires, the wilderness, and living off-grid often come to mind—the feeling of freedom and living your best life. 

Cowboy Coffee evokes visions of remote campsites, rugged landscapes, and self-sufficient living. These thoughts conjure up the aromas and earthiness of coffee and almost have me heading to the kitchen to make another brew, albeit in the comfort of my home.

Cowboy coffee is a traditional coffee-brewing method often involving a pot, an open fire, water and ground coffee. It’s an age-old method and can produce some stunning coffee to drink along with a completely different coffee-drinking experience.

what is cowboy coffee

How I Got Started with Cowboy Coffee

I’d love to share my first experience of camping and cowboy coffee. 

My first night of camping was fun but a bit rough, and this was my first experience with cowboy coffee. I admit, I didn’t know it had such a fancy name at the time. 

As the morning sun rose over the mountains, I craved a hot coffee to start my day. However, I was miles away from civilization – rough translation, no coffee shops; I realized I’d have to make my cup of coffee any way I could. 

That’s when I remembered a trick my father had taught me years ago: how to make a rustic cup of coffee using what I had. I gathered my supplies: a pot, water, coffee grounds, and a bandana. 

Yes, a bandana. My father had always used a bandana to strain the grounds, and I wanted to honor our memories of camping and do the same. 

As I boiled the water over the campfire, I added a handful of coffee grounds and let it steep for a few minutes. Then, I carefully poured the mixture through the bandana, watching as the rich, dark liquid flowed into my cup. 

As I took my first sip, I was amazed at how smooth and flavorful the coffee was. It had a bold, robust flavor that was perfect for the outdoors.

 And the best part? Cowboy coffee is packed with health benefits, including antioxidants and metabolism-boosting properties. 

When Would You Want to Make Cowboy Coffee?

I’ve been making cowboy coffee on all my camping and hiking trips ever since, and it never fails to impress my fellow adventurers. With practice and the proper technique, anyone can brew a great cup of cowboy coffee outdoors.

In today’s society, where people are increasingly breaking free from societal norms, it could be advantageous to have wilderness survival skills.

Coffee rates high on my list of survival skills! How about yours? 

You may find yourself camping or living off the grid permanently. Alternatively, you could use your BBQ grill to enhance your outdoor dining experience. Each person will have their reason for loving cowboy coffee. 

It is also a great addition to hiking and packing a few items to enjoy a great cup of coffee at the end of your trail. 

Cowboy coffee is a simple, authentic way to brew coffee that cowboys and other outdoor enthusiasts have enjoyed for centuries. 

How easy is it?

It is made by boiling coarsely-ground coffee beans in water without a filter. This results in a robust and unfiltered cup of coffee often described as “bold” and “earthy.”

A Brief History of Cowboy Coffee

cowboy coffee made at home

Did you know that cowboy coffee has an interesting origin story? The story goes that Spanish vaqueros, or cowboys who drove cattle between Texas and New Mexico, first brewed it in the American Southwest. 

They had a tough and arduous job, and the weather could have been better. But they found a way to improve their days with a strong cup of coffee.

The cowboys often brewed coffee over an open fire, using coarsely-ground coffee beans and water. 

This method of brewing coffee was simple and easy to do, and it was perfect for the harsh conditions of the Southwest. As we do today, they would use this coffee time to socialize and recharge. 

As the American West settled, cowboy coffee became popular among cowboys and outdoor enthusiasts. 

And why not? It is a simple, reliable way to brew coffee, perfect for long days of hiking and drinking a great cup of coffee at the end of a long trail. 

Today, cowboy coffee is still enjoyed by many people, both in the United States and around the world.

I said cowboy coffee had been around for a long time, and here are some of the critical events in its history:

  • 1700s: Coffee is introduced to the Americas by Spanish explorers.
  • 1800s: Cowboy coffee becomes popular among cowboys and other outdoor enthusiasts.
  • 1900s: Cowboy coffee continues to be enjoyed by people worldwide.
  • 2000s: Cowboy coffee increases in popularity, thanks to the rise of camping and outdoor activities.

How To Brew Great Cowboy Coffee

coarse coffee granules for cowboy coffee

The method is simple: You need water, coarsely ground coffee beans, a fireproof kettle, a stovetop, a campfire grill, or a fire pit. Cowboy coffee was initially made over open flames, so that works too.

But here’s a cool thing. You only have six steps to successfully make cowboy coffee:

  1. Bring water to a boil in a pot or kettle.
  2. Add the coarsely-ground coffee beans to the boiling water.
  3. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5-10 minutes.
  4. Remove the pot from the heat and let it sit for 5 minutes.
  5. Pour the coffee into a cup. 
  6. Drink black, or add milk, sugar, and or cream.

In the old days, cowboys often used ground eggshells to help the grounds fall to the bottom of the cup. You can also use milk or a little cold water. Eggshells might sound weird, but they sink to the bottom quickly, clearing the drink. 

Eggshells also contain one of the highest sources of magnesium, so chew them up and swallow them if you can!

Cowboy Coffee Is Certainly a Trend Now

Cowboy coffee has grown in popularity in recent years, thanks to the rise of camping and outdoor activities. This simple, rustic way of brewing coffee is perfect for people who enjoy spending time in the wilderness. 

I enjoy spending nights camping at my favorite spots. After a long walk during the day, I love making a fire and cooking dinner there.

Sometimes I go in my car, so packing a tent and a few items is the way to go, and this type of coffee is perfect for requiring fewer items. It is also cheaper than most fancy camping coffee makers

There are a few reasons why cowboy coffee has become so popular.

First, it is a straightforward way to make coffee. You only need coarsely-ground coffee beans, water, and a pot or kettle.

You can even make it in a tin can over a campfire. It’s also lovely with a BBQ. The coffee aroma is always appreciated as part of the cookout. 

Second, cowboy coffee is a robust and flavorful cup of coffee.

It could be because the coffee is brewed without a filter, which allows the oils and sediment from the coffee beans to seep into the water—resulting in a coffee with a rich, earthy flavor that many people enjoy.

Third, I’ve already mentioned how easy it is to pack and carry what you need on a hiking trail. It’s magical to think you can settle down with a nice hot cup of brew after a long day of walking or even spending a day at the beach. 

Many a memory is making coffee on an open fire while watching the sun go down. 

Finally, cowboy coffee is a great way to connect with nature.

Brewing coffee over a campfire is a great way to start your day and enjoy the outdoors. Sometimes you need something to entice you to get off your computer and into the great outdoors. 

Why I Love Cowboy Coffee

how to love cowboy coffee

For me, it is a few things: I love making fires, eating hot food off of a grill, and coffee, as most of you know. Not to mention how much you can enjoy the scenery and how good it is for you. 

Here are some of the factors that I feel have contributed to the resurgence of cowboy coffee in today’s culture:

  • The rise of camping and outdoor activities. As more and more people spend time in the wilderness, they look for simple, rustic ways to enjoy their favorite beverages. Cowboy coffee is a perfect fit for this trend.
  • The popularity of social media. People who enjoy cowboy coffee are often sharing their experiences on social media. This has helped to raise awareness of cowboy coffee and make it more popular. There are excellent photographs of your coffee pot in the flames. 
  • The trend of “slow living.” There is a growing trend towards “slow living,” which emphasizes simplicity and enjoying the simple things in life. Cowboy coffee is a perfect fit for this trend, as it is a simple, rustic way to enjoy a cup of coffee. Many people want to avoid being in the consumer economy and are slowing it down and spending less. 

The resurgence of cowboy coffee is an excellent example of how traditional methods can be adapted and enjoyed in modern times. 

What Can You Use to Make Cowboy Coffee?

You can use any kettle that is fireproof if you already have one. If you are keen to start and need a suitable kettle, here are some examples of great outdoor coffee makers. 

  • GSI Outdoors 6 Cup Coffee Pot: Made of enameled steel, which is durable and easy to clean. It has a capacity of 6 cups, which is enough for most people. Some even take it out on their boats. 
  • Granite Ware Coffee Boiler: Cast iron, which is very durable and can withstand high heat. It has a capacity of 12.5 cups, enough for a large group.
  • Coletti Boseman Percolator: This pot has a built-in percolator, meaning the coffee is continuously stirred as it brews. This results in a more evenly extracted cup of coffee. The percolator made from stainless steel is durable and easy to clean.
  • Stanley Adventure Camp Cook Set: This set includes a pot, a frying pan, a lid, and a carrying case. The kettle is made of anodized aluminum and is lightweight and durable.
  • Evernew Titanium Coffee Pot:  Made from titanium, this is a strong, lightweight, rust-resistant material. It has a capacity of 3 cups, which is enough for most people.

When choosing a pot for making cowboy coffee, there are a few factors to consider:

  • Size: The size of the pot will depend on how much coffee you want to make. You will need a larger pot if you make coffee for a large group. This sounds like a no-brainer, but it is always better to be overprepared. 
  • Material: The material of the pot will affect its durability and heat retention. Stainless steel and cast iron are durable materials that can withstand high heat. I suggest reading the pamphlet well before buying. 
  • Features: Some pots have features that make them more convenient for making cowboy coffee, such as a built-in percolator or a filter. That way, you do not have to chew on eggshells! 
  • Price: Pots for making cowboy coffee will range. Some are affordable and others a bit more pricey, you can decide how much you want to spend. 

My Conclusion

This is how legends are made, and Cowboy coffee is a simple, rustic way of brewing coffee that people have enjoyed for centuries. 

However, it has been able to adapt to the modern world and become a popular beverage for people who enjoy spending time in the wilderness. 

There is nothing better than sitting up at night over a campfire with a trusty friend, chatting about the day, and enjoying a good cup of coffee. Try it