Cowboy coffee is renowned for its strength and ruggedness, perhaps reflecting the surroundings in which it is traditionally brewed. While portable stove coffee makers have perhaps replaced the need for some of the more traditional methods, it can still be fun to make while camping out under the stars.
There are many ways of making cowboy coffee, as it’s a case of being resourceful with whatever you have to hand, so there is really no right or wrong way to do it. But let’s have a look at a couple of the most common methods for making it.
The thing all of these methods have in common is just making the best use of the basic ingredients and basic cooking implements that you might have with you camping, in order to create an effective cup of coffee in the morning.
Using your egg shells
If you are frying up eggs for breakfast in the morning, don’t discard the shells as they can be used to make one of the more unique recipes for cowboy coffee out in the wild. The only equipment you need is a heat resistant kettle and a source of heat. You will also need the egg shells, ground coffee and water.
Firstly, put the water into your kettle and get it to boil. While it’s boiling you need to dig out a small hole nearby. This is where you kettle will rest later, to keep your coffee warm.
The next stage is to break up the egg shells and mix them in with the ground coffee. They will bind the coffee so you don’t get grounds in the bottom of your cup. If you have been working hard and losing salt, you can add a little to this drink.
Once the water starts to boil, add in the coffee and egg shells but don’t stir them, let them fall to the bottom. As soon as the water boils again, remove it from the heat and leave it for around five minutes. The coffee will brew and the grounds and egg shells will fall to the bottom. If they don’t, pour a small amount of cold water on top and they will sink.
You can now pour your coffee out to drink and then store the kettle in the hole, to keep any remaining coffee warm.
Using your socks
This is a handy method to use as long as you have a spare clean sock lying around which you don’t need to wear. It really is making the most of what you have with you, to make a rough and ready coffee outdoors. The equipment is the same as before, a heat-proof kettle, a heat source and this time, a clean sock.
Follow the same steps as the first method, so boil the kettle and dig your hole to keep the kettle warm later on. While this is happening, you can place your ground coffee into your clean sock, it needs to be a tight fabric that won’t allow the grounds to seep out.
Once your water is boiling, put the coffee-filled sock into the pot and bring back to the boil. Remove it from the heat and allow to brew for around five minutes. Once done you can pour out some coffee to enjoy, safe in the knowledge there will be no yucky grounds at the bottom.
Using a spoon
This method is probably the most traditional way of making cowboy coffee but does have the highest risk of getting grounds left in your cup, which is one of the things cowboy coffee is renowned for. All you need is that kettle, heat source and a metal spoon.
Start out by boiling the water first, and then let it cool down away from the heat source, for about a minute. After cooling, add the coffee and stir it for a few seconds before placing the kettle into the hole and leaving for a couple more minutes.
Stir the water again, and then leave it for another two minutes of brewing. Once this time is up, the coffee should be ready to serve. Pour it out carefully to avoid the grounds getting into your cup as much as possible.
Alternatives to cowboy coffee
While these rugged and rustic ways to make coffee will work while out camping in the wilds, nowadays there are simpler and easier ways to brew a fantastic cup of coffee even if you are out in the middle of nowhere, as long as you have water, a heat source and coffee.
You can take a cafetiere with you, which is very portable, easy to use and will save drinking those coffee grounds or having coffee that tastes of eggs or socks. You simply add the coffee grounds, the hot water, leave to steep and then use the plunger to separate the grounds from your drink.