How To Make Cowboy Coffee: A Step By Step Guide

If you’re a coffee lover, you know how it is impossible to pass up a day without your daily dose of coffee. You would also know that a good coffee does not always have to have syrup, cream or chocolate. (Although of course, I like taking my coffee with a little bit of milk sometimes too).

Especially for people who need to coffee to wake themselves up, they go lengths just to try the strongest coffees out there. On the side note, the cowboy coffee is one of the strongest coffees you can find. Cowboy coffees are usually made outside with campfires. So, what does cowboy coffee mean, and how to make cowboy coffee?

From the way back, cowboys are known for always staying outside herding and guiding cattle. Even at night, cowboys sleep out with their sugar/wool bed roll. After setting this up, cowboys usually start making their cowboy coffees with campfires. The cowboy coffee is what will keep them warm throughout the night.

Make Cowboy Coffee for backpacking

People usually get the notion that cowboy coffees are outright black, bitter or awful. Well, that might be true for some (mainly it was designed to wake cowboys up and to keep them warm). However, if made properly, even those who don’t drink black coffee would be able to drink this without anything in it.

But for today, we will be giving you two different methods to make cowboy coffee. This is so you can choose which among the two approaches would be more convenient for you!

What You Will Be Needing

​Just like any coffee recipes, you will-will need your choice of ground coffee. Not the beans, or the instant one, but especially ground coffee. Then you might need measuring spoons and cups as well as water.

How To Make Cowboy Coffee camping

As for the cooking procedure itself, you will need to look for an excellent location to make your campfire. However, this is for method 2. Which we will be further elaborating later in this guide.

authentic cowboy coffee

If you are going to opt for method 1, a simple sauce pan and a stove will do. But do note that the traditional and authentic cowboy coffee is made with a coffee can and your very own campfire.

​We will also give you instructions on how to make your very own DIY coffee can with just 3 materials: wire, can and pliers. (However, should you want to free yourself of this hassle, you can always buy a pre-made one. So this could be optional).

So if you want a taste of an authentic wild west coffee, trying out method 2 might be the better option. We will be telling you explicitly which materials are for which per method below.

Method 1: Using a Saucepan​

The first method that we will be teaching you would be using the pan. Compared to the other method, this one can be done at home. It is perfect for days when you’re craving for home brewed coffee. For this method, you will be needing:

  • Of course, a saucepan (any sauce pan will do, just make sure that coffee grounds will not stick at the base of the pan).
  • Ground coffee
  • Sugar (this is also optional)
  • Cream (this is optional)

​The Steps

1. Measure first how much water you’re putting in your coffee. You can use the cup or mug you will be drinking from to gauge the amount of water you will add.

2. Put the water in a saucepan and bring it to a boil.

Put the water in a saucepan and bring it to a boil.

​3. Add one scoop (heaped) of coffee into the boiling water. (Use only one scoop per cup).

Add one scoop (heaped) of coffee into the boiling water

​4. Carefully stir with a fork. The fork will help dissolve any remaining residue of the coffee.

Carefully stir with a fork

​5. Remove the pan from heat and let it rest for a few minutes first. This is for the grounds to settle first.

6. From the saucepan, pour the coffee into your mug/cup. This coffee is best taken when the grounds are left undisturbed. Enjoy while hot! 🙂

Serve and enjoy while the coffee is hot! If you want to see how these steps look in actual, check these videos:​

Method 2: Using The Campfire​

This campfire method is the most authentic way of making a cowboy coffee. This is just how the Cowboys do it.

Moreover, this method is perfect for camping trips where you just want to enjoy a hot cup of coffee out on a cold, breezy night. Here’s a list of what you will be needing:

  • Coffee
  • Can - You can use other materials as “coffee can.” However, make sure that it will not melt with the campfire as it will be exposed to direct heat.
  • Wire - Make sure to get one of high quality since you will be using it as a handle to your coffee can (and you will be swinging around your coffee can with it too).
  • Water
  • Cream/sugar (optional).

The Steps

1. Prepare the coffee can which you will be using over the campfire. Add a handle to the can by drilling two holes facing and opposite each other.

2. Use the wire as a handle by threading it through the two holes. Bend the wire to form a concave.

Bend the wire to form a concave when make cowboy coffee

​3. You can use pliers to shape and bend back the ends of the wire. This is to secure the handle in place. (and also to make sure the can wouldn’t fall off from the wire throughout the whole procedure).

4. Add some of the ground coffee to your coffee can. One heaped spoonful is enough for one cup/mug.

ground coffee

​5. Fill the coffee can with water. (3 inches from the top of the container).

coffee can with water when make cowboy coffee

​6. Prepare the campfire and the spot where you will be placing your coffee can. Make sure that there is a stand or at least a heap of flat coals over the fire. (that is where you will place the coffee can).

campfire and the spot

7. Bring the water to a boil.

​8. If ever there is, break the surface tension to avoid spilling your coffee grounds over. You can do this by using a stick, adding a pinch of salt or crushed eggshell. (However, it is more convenient to use a stick)

break the surface tension to avoid spilling your coffee grounds

​9. After boiling for a few minutes more, remove from the fire and let your coffee rest/cool down a bit first.

10. Concentrate the coffee grounds at the base of the can by swinging it around a little before pouring into you cup/mug.

Concentrate the coffee grounds

​Serve and enjoy while the coffee is hot! If you want to see how these steps look in actual, check these videos:

​In a Nutshell

​While it's nice to have coffee outside every once in awhile, there will always be a different touch to coffee made at home.

Even without a coffee maker machine, there will always be ways to make cafe-good coffees at the comforts of your home! (or even when you’re out, hiking or camping with family and friends)

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