How To Make Cowboy Coffee

how to make cowboy coffeeThere are so many different ways to brew coffee these days.

From espressos to drip-style coffees, and so many different pieces of equipment and tools that you need for brewing. It can really get overwhelming!

Sometimes, it can be appealing to take a step back to a simpler time and enjoy something easy to make. That way, you can step away from the complicated modern processes all while trying something new!

One of these easier methods that some coffee-lovers can greatly enjoy is cowboy coffee.

This is a very simple method of brewing coffee that has often been enjoyed by those who work on the ranch and are looking for an energy boost without the multitude of ingredients that can show up in a lot of modern coffee styles.

It is important to remember that because it’s an older style of coffee, it’s not going to have the same kinds of filtration or other aspects that many of us treasure today.

At it’s most basic level, cowboy coffee is a minimalist brew most commonly made for those who don’t mind drinking it black.

Continue on to learn more about cowboy coffee and how you can make it!

Where Did It Come From?

The world wasn’t always as privy to making coffee in the ways we are today.

Especially for pioneers who often carried only the absolute basics to help them get where they were going, filters weren’t such a simple thing to obtain. Also, Keurigs, drip-style and espresso coffee machines just weren’t something people had access to.

Can you imagine trying to make a hot cup of coffee without access to the conveniences of modern times?

Instead, people had to find a simple way to make coffee that would give them the energy to travel on.

The answer for these people was cowboy coffee, which could easily be made as travelers sat around a campfire. It didn’t require much more than grounds and water, and kept everyone on their feet.

Why Drink Cowboy Coffee?

While many people will tell you it isn’t the way to go if you’re looking for great taste, there are some who highly praise this style of coffee.

Overall it’s a simple, vintage way to make coffee that can sometimes turn out quite well if it’s made correctly.

In fact, fans will often drink it as is, without cream, sugar or anything else. This concept can either attest to their ability to handle bitterness or the actual smoothness of the flavor created in this brew.

For those who are hardcore coffee fans, it may be worthwhile to try out cowboy coffee, if only just to say you have.

In order to give this unique brew a shot, you’re going to need to know how to make it, but don’t worry! You won’t have to start up a campfire for the sake of making cowboy coffee (unless you want to).

Sounds Great, How Do I Make It?

Preparing and Cooking

Cowboy coffee doesn’t require a lot. Essentially you need a kettle, water, coffee grounds and salt and egg shells to your preference.

If your eyebrows raised at the mention of salt and egg shells in your coffee, hang in there! We’ll explain why these are important a little further in the process.

You’re also not going to need any filters or anything like that. After all, one of the reasons cowboy coffee was so popular on the ranch is because it doesn’t need a lot of fancy pieces of equipment.

It’s also something you can make on your stove or over a campfire, which for some might make it a useful recipe for camping.

The first step will be getting your water boiling. Pour your water into the kettle, keeping in mind that you’ll need about two cups of water per every five or six tablespoons of ground coffee, depending on how strong you want it to be.

In order to avoid your coffee becoming a nasty sludge, make sure to use coarse grounds that will separate more easily from the water once the cooking process is finished.

Let the water come to a good rolling boil and then take it away from the heat.

Before you add the coffee into the kettle, it’s a good idea to let it sit for about a minute. Essentially, if the water is still boiling a lot when you add the grounds it can result in a more bitter taste.

Once it has cooled, stir in your coffee and return the mixture to your heat source.

This time, don’t bring it to a complete boil, but just a simmer to allow the caffeine and flavors to be pulled from the coffee.

When the mixture has reached a simmer, set it away from the heat once again to allow the coffee grounds to continue to bloom.

After those two minutes, stir the mixture a little and let it sit for another couple of minutes. If you’re in a hurry, you can also add a little bit of cold water to let the mixture settle more quickly.

Now, here’s where the egg shells come in.

Egg shells not only help with settling your mixture, but can also help to bring down the level of bitterness and add some calcium to the mix.

So if you can, crush up an egg shell and add it into the combination. The bits of shell should stick to some of the grounds and help with keeping them down at the bottom of the kettle and away from your cup.

If the egg shells aren’t enough, a little bit of salt can also help with the bitterness!

Serving It

Because there is no filter in the container, it’s going to be important to remember a couple of things.

The first is to refrain from pouring all of the mixture into your cup or the pitcher if you’re serving it from one. There will be a coffee ground and egg shell sludge that you’re not going to want mixing back into your coffee.

Pouring it slowly and carefully can also help to avoid this issue.

On a similar note, the farther you get down into the container the stronger, more acidic and bitter the coffee will be. If you want to be able to drink more before getting to that point, you can adjust the recipe with more water or try adding milk or creamer after it has been made.

Tips That Can Make Your Cowboy Coffee Better

Many fans of this type of coffee choose not to put anything in it. It’s truly a minimalist option for those who aren’t a fan of the huge list of ingredients that have been added to coffee recipes.

However, that doesn’t mean you can’t add in some other ingredients to the finished product if you want to make it smoother or less bitter.

Naturally, the end result should fit your liking.

Because this isn’t a difficult brew to make, it shouldn’t take too long at all for you to learn how to adapt it to your tastes. You may even find that you prefer it to the more complicated brews that are so prevalent today.

Brian Mounts

Head blogger, editor, and owner of "Top Off My Coffee", a website that has been educating readers about coffee brewing techniques and equipment since 2012.

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