How to Make Cowboy Coffee Like a True Outlaw


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Cowboy coffee, also known as campfire coffee, is a classic way to make coffee the old-fashioned way.

It’s a brewing method that’s been around for centuries and is still popular today among outdoor enthusiasts and coffee lovers alike. The process involves brewing coffee in a pot over an open flame, resulting in a strong and flavorful cup of coffee.

While cowboy coffee may not be the most refined brewing method, it’s certainly an experience to learn how to make coffee the old-fashioned way. There’s something about the process of brewing coffee over an open fire that makes it taste even better. Plus, it’s a fun and adventurous way to enjoy your morning cup of joe.

So, how did cowboys make coffee? It’s actually quite simple. All they used was a pot, water, coffee grounds, and a heat source.

Whether you’re out camping in the wilderness or just looking for a new way to enjoy your coffee at home, cowboy coffee is a great option to try.

How to make cowboy coffee

The Basics of Making Cowboy Coffee

For those who love camping or just want to make coffee the old-fashioned way, cowboy coffee is a great option. This strong and bold coffee is made by boiling water and coffee grounds together in a pot over a fire. Here is everything you need to know to make a delicious cup of cowboy coffee.

What is Cowboy Coffee?

Cowboy coffee is a type of coffee that is made by boiling coffee grounds and water together in a pot over a fire. It is believed to have originated in the Old West, where cowboys would make coffee using whatever equipment they had available. The result is a strong and bold coffee that is perfect for those who like their coffee with a kick.

The Equipment You Need

To make cowboy coffee, you will need a few pieces of equipment:

  • A cowboy coffee pot: You will need a pot that is large enough to hold the amount of coffee you want to make and one that will stand up to the flames if brewing on a campfire.
    Granite Ware Enamel on Steel 3-Quart Coffee Boiler, 12 cups capacity - Ideal for Camping / Cabin / RV - Heat coffee, tea and water directly on stove and fire.
  • Coffee grounds: Use coarsely ground coffee beans. You can grind your own or buy pre-ground coffee.
  • Water: Use fresh, cold water.
  • A heat source: You can use a campfire or a stove to heat the water and coffee grounds.
  • A spoon: You will need a long spoon to stir the coffee grounds and water together.

Once you have all the equipment you need, you’re ready to start making cowboy coffee.

How to Make Cowboy Coffee

Granite Ware Enamel on Steel 3-Quart Coffee Boiler, 12 cups capacity - Ideal for Camping / Cabin / RV - Heat coffee, tea and water directly on stove and fire.

Making cowboy coffee is easy and straightforward. Here are the steps to follow:

Boil Your Water

The first step in making cowboy coffee is to boil your water. According to wikiHow, you should bring the water to a rolling boil.

Once the water is boiling, remove it from the heat and let it sit for 30 seconds. This will lower the water temperature to about 200 degrees F.

Add Your Coffee

After the water has cooled slightly, it’s time to add your coffee. Ideally, you should add a tablespoon or two of coffee grounds for each cup of water.

Stir the mix so the grounds are good and saturated. Then, bring the water back to a rolling boil for 2 or 3 minutes.

Let it Sit

Once the coffee has boiled, remove it from the heat and let it sit for a minute or two. This will allow the grounds to settle to the bottom of the pot.

You can also try pouring a little cold water over the floating grounds to make them sink faster.

Strain Your Coffee

Finally, it’s time to strain your coffee. You can either use a coffee filter or a fine mesh strainer to remove the grounds (or your neckerchief as per the cowboys). Failing that you should pour the coffee slowly to avoid stirring up the grounds.

Once you’ve strained your coffee, it’s ready to drink. Enjoy your delicious cup of cowboy coffee!

Cowboy Coffee Tips and Tricks

Choosing the Right Coffee

When making cowboy coffee, it’s important to choose the right coffee grounds. Look for a medium to dark roast, as they tend to have a stronger flavor that can hold up to the brewing process.

Avoid using pre-ground coffee as it can quickly lose its flavor and aroma. Instead, opt for whole bean coffee and grind it yourself right before brewing although that may not be practical if you are camping.

Choose a coarser grind if possible, as finer grinds may result in a more bitter taste and a sludgy cup of coffee.

Adding Flavor

If you want to add some extra flavor to your cowboy coffee, there are a few things you can try.

  • One popular option is to add a pinch of salt to the coffee grounds before brewing. This can help to enhance the flavor and reduce any bitterness.
  • Another option is to add some spices to the coffee grounds, such as cinnamon or nutmeg. This can give your coffee a warm and comforting flavor that is perfect for chilly mornings.
  • For those who prefer a sweeter coffee, consider adding a spoonful of honey or maple syrup to the brewed coffee. This can add a subtle sweetness without overpowering the coffee’s natural flavor.


For those who are new to cowboy coffee, or just want to brush up on their knowledge, here are a few frequently asked questions:

Is cowboy coffee safe to drink?

As long as you use clean water and fresh coffee grounds, cowboy coffee is generally safe to drink. However, because the coffee is not filtered, it can contain more sediment and oils than regular coffee, which can cause stomach upset in some people. If you have a sensitive stomach, you may want to avoid drinking cowboy coffee.

Can I make cowboy coffee with any type of coffee roast?

You can use any roast for cowboy coffee. Light, medium, and dark roasts will yield different flavor profiles, so choose according to your preference.

Is cowboy coffee more caffeinated than other brewing methods?

Not necessarily. Caffeine content depends on factors like coffee-to-water ratio, brewing time, and bean type. Cowboy coffee can be strong, but its caffeine levels may be similar to other methods.

Can I add milk or sugar to cowboy coffee?

You can customize your cowboy coffee with milk, sugar, or other sweeteners and flavorings as you would with any other coffee brewing method.

Find out about all the different types of coffee drinks in our complete guide.

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