Skip to main content
Coffee Guides

How to Make Cowboy Coffee?

Cowboy coffee is one of the oldest and most basic methods of brewing coffee in the world. It has a rich history among cowboys, campers, and lovers of outdoor activities. With this method, you don’t need any special coffee maker.

Today, the idea and style of making cowboy coffee elicits a lot of nostalgia. It’s a brew that delivers homey comfort upon consumption.

Although it’s not among the most popular coffee brewing methods, it’s among the most celebrated brewing methods in the history of coffee.

Considering today’s advanced technology in the coffee industry, brewing cowboy coffee seems like a less desirable art of making coffee.

However, anyone who’s fond of outdoor activities and doesn’t want to forego coffee while out there can consider cowboy coffee, thanks to its simplicity.

In this article, we’ll show you how to prepare cowboy coffee to ensure you won’t forego coffee during your next camping holiday, hiking, or outdoor trip.


man brewing cowboy coffee while camping.


What is Cowboy Coffee?

Essentially, cowboy coffee can be described as French press coffee that’s made without any form of a filter. Basically, this coffee is prepared over firewood, stove, campfire, camp grill, or any other open flame or heat source.

That’s what makes it a great way to make coffee outdoors where coffee makers that rely on electricity can’t work. For instance, when trail hunting with a couple of friends in the wild or enjoying a camping trip to a favorite campsite, you don’t have the luxury to get a power outlet. Thus, you need a simple process to make coffee. Despite being a simple brewing method, it results in a more flavorful and bold cup of joe.


How Do You Make Cowboy Coffee?

Here’s a simple recipe for making cowboy coffee at your home kitchen or anywhere else with an open flame.


Required ingredients:

  • Coarse ground coffee
  • Water


Required equipment:

  • Coffee cup or coffee mug
  • Stovetop or open fire
  • Tin coffee pot, coffee kettle or coffee pot (preferably with a long spout)



Step 1 – Boil enough water in a kettle or pot depending on the amount of coffee you want to brew. Cover the pot with a lid to boil the water more quickly.

Step 2 – Upon boiling the water, set it away from the fire and allow it to sit for about 30 seconds. That way, the water temperature will drop to the optimum temperature for brewing tasty coffee, which is about 200 degrees Fahrenheit.

Step 3 – Add ground coffee to the hot water. The best ratio for cowboy coffee is two tablespoons of coarse ground coffee per 8 ounces of water. You can use a coffee grinder to grind your own coffee beans for this cowboy coffee recipe.

Step 4 – Stir the grounds to mix with the water.

Step 5 – Allow the mixture to sit for about 2 minutes.

Step 6 – Stir again.

Step 7 – Let the coffee sit for another 2 minutes.

Step 8 – By now, the grounds should be floating on the brew. Pour cold water (½ cup) over the floating grounds to make them sink and settle at the bottom of the pot.

Step 9 – Your brew is now ready. To serve, pour the brew slowly into your coffee mug. Doing so will prevent the settled grounds from being transferred into the mug or cups. You don’t have to use a coffee filter or coffee sock when serving cowboy coffee.

Step 10 – Enjoy your cowboy coffee while still hot.


man drinking freshly brewed cowboy coffee.


Important Recipe Notes

There’re certain things you need to know to stand better chances of brewing a perfect cup of cowboy coffee.

Keep the following notes in mind to make tasty cowboy coffee:

  • The water temperature is crucial when brewing cowboy coffee. Brewing with the right water temperature will prevent over-extraction.
  • Some cowboy coffee recipes include adding crushed eggshells. Essentially, egg shells help to sink the grounds faster. Also, they assist in reducing the acidity of the brew since they’re alkaline in nature. You can also filter the grounds with a clean cloth or sock.
  • Traditionally, cowboy coffee is served black. Besides, no one wants the hassle of carrying fresh milk and sugar while camping. Regardless, you can still add cream, milk, milk powder, sugar, or anything else to sweeten the brew. Add a little amount of a preferred additive at a time while checking the results to ensure you don’t add an excessive amount. You can use a teaspoon to add the additive in small amounts.
  • If you allow the brew to sit in the kettle longer than necessary just to keep your coffee warm or after making an excess batch, it’ll over-extract and turn out a bit bitter. You can eliminate the bitterness by adding a pinch of salt to the brew. Alternateively, serve any excess batch into a jar for storage to prevent over-extraction.


The Bottom Line

Many people assume that cowboy coffee is tasteless and murky. However, it’s a tasty drink with a rich flavor when brewed right. Besides, it’s among the simplest ways of making coffee.

Also, feel free to adjust the heat and ratio of water and coffee until you get a perfect brew as per your taste preferences.

Also, use freshly ground coffee for perfect results. Only use coarse coffee grounds when making cowboy coffee.

If you brew with fine grounds, you’ll get a bitter brew due to over-extraction. Also, fine grounds will find their way into your cup of coffee.

Now you know how to make coffee with basic ingredients and simple equipment.