How to Make Cowboy Coffee?

Cowboy coffee is one of the oldest and most basic methods of brewing coffee. It has a rich history among cowboys, campers, and lovers of outdoor activities.

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

Although it’s not the most popular coffee brewing method, 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.

Let’s guide you on how to make cowboy coffee to ensure you won’t forego coffee during your next camping holiday 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 or any other open flame.

That’s what makes it a great choice for brewing coffee outdoors where coffee makers that rely on electricity can’t work. Despite being a simple brewing method, it results in a flavorful and bold brew.


How Do You Make Cowboy Coffee?

Here’s a simple recipe for making cowboy coffee.


Required ingredients:

  • Coarse ground coffee
  • Water


Required equipment:

  • Mug or cup
  • Stovetop or open fire
  • Coffee pot or kettle



Step 1- Boil enough water in a kettle or pot depending on the amount of coffee you want to brew.

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 two tablespoons of coarse ground coffee per 8 ounces of water.

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- Allow the mixture to 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 your coffee mug.

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. They 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 milk or sugar. Add a little amount of a preferred additive at a time while checking the results to ensure you don’t add an excessive amount.
  • If you allow the brew to sit in the kettle longer than necessary, it’ll over-extract and turn out bitter. You can fix this problem by adding a pinch of salt to the brew.


The Bottom Line

Many people assume that cowboy coffee is tasteless and murky. However, it’s a tasty drink when brewed right.

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.

About the author

Hi I'm James and coffee is an integral part of my routine: from waking up to getting ready for work in the morning, to spending time with friends after work in the evening hours. It’s not just about being caffeinated; it's about enjoying every single moment of your day with that perfect cup of joe! At, our goal is to provide no-nonsense, clear and up to date information about coffee.

James Black

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