Cowboy Coffee: The Authentic Beverage of the Wild West

Cowboy Coffee: The Authentic Beverage of the Wild West

June 30, 2021

Try out this adventurous brewing method on your next camping trip!


Cowboy coffee has its history in its name. 

Americans began choosing to drink coffee over tea, the favoured drink of the British Empire, as a sign of defiance and rebellion against their former empire. 

The Boston Tea Party, an American political and mercantile protest against the imposing of taxes on British tea in the American colonies, was seen as a direct revolt against the British. Americans rushed British ships and dumped millions of dollars worth of tea into the sea, resulting in drinking tea being viewed as an unpatriotic act, making coffee the drink of choice. 


What is cowboy coffee?

Western cowboys, drawn west by the exploding gold rush and daily herding of cattle, meant long days of working and travelling.

The solution? Coffee!

It both provided them with the energy they needed each day, and it was quick and easy to make while travelling or out in the fields.

Cowboys enjoyed black, strong coffee. After the first round was poured, they would add more coffee grounds to the pot to keep it strong. Brewing the coffee was a way for the men to relax and catch up at the end of their long days.


Road Fact: It is important to note that while it is colloquially known as cowboy coffee, this brewing method is used worldwide!

What’s the secret ingredient in cowboy coffee?

Drumroll please…

The secret ingredient in cowboy coffee is salt! Yes, salt!

Adding a pinch of salt to your pot of coffee will enrich the taste of your coffee.

Road Fact: It has been said that some cowboys would use crushed eggshells to help the coffee grounds sink to the bottom of the pot faster. Eggshells reduce acidic levels thanks to their alkalinity, resulting in a less acidic cup of coffee. Some cowboys would also use a clean sock as a makeshift coffee filter to keep the coffee beverage and coffee grounds separated when pouring.

Making Cowboy Coffee is one of the most straightforward and simple brewing methods, making this perfect for camping or a chill morning. To truly experience the Old Western ways of making Cowboy Coffee, free pour your coffee and water!

It’s true! Most cowboys wouldn’t measure their coffee to water ratio. Try your hand this way for a truly authentic Cowboy Coffee experience!

We used some measurements in this recipe for your enjoyment, feel free to deviate and do your own thing if you’re feeling adventurous.

Road Tip: For each cup of water, use a tablespoon of coffee grounds.

How to make cowboy coffee while camping!

Cowboy coffee is essentially a filterless French Press coffee, enjoyed on an open flame where coffee makers or electricity aren’t available. For the bold and flavourful coffee lovers out there, this method is a must-try!

Follow these steps to make this delicious outlaw beverage: 


  • 4 cups of water to boil
  • ½ cup of water to pour on after
  • 4 tablespoons of your favourite Road Coffee, coarsely ground


  • A pot


Step 1: Get your fire started and the water into the pot.

Step 2: Once the water has reached a boil, remove the pot from your fire and let it sit for approximately 30 seconds.

Road Tip: The water will drop to approximately 200°F, the optimal coffee brewing temperature. 

Step 3: Add the coarsely ground coffee ground to the pot. Add a pinch of salt to make the coffee richer!

Road Tip: The coffee grounds will be a similar look and feel to breadcrumbs. This is also the grind size required for the French Press brewing method.

Step 4: Remove the pot from the fire and stir the coffee grounds.

Step 5: Put the pot back on the heat and let it sit for 2 minutes, then stir. Repeat twice.

Step 6: Take the pot off the heat after 4 minutes and pour ½ cup cold water over the grounds floating on top of the water.

Step 7: Let the pot cool slightly so the coffee grounds settle to the bottom of the pot. 

Step 8: Slowly pour the coffee into your mug, so that the coffee grounds stay at the bottom of the pot and don’t end up in your mug.

Step 9: Enjoy your cowboy coffee!

To make cowboy coffee on the stove, the above instructions apply! Rather than fire, turn your stove on to the highest setting. 

Like all brewing methods, the temperature is key. Boiling coffee removes the acidity from the drink without impacting the delicious flavours and tasting notes.

Give the gift of adventure coffee with this traditional brewing method and experience the way cowboys of the Wild West got their caffeine kick! Whether at home or camping with friends, this brew method will surely create lasting memories.

Let us know how this method worked for you at or social media at @roadcoffee, and any other tips you may have!


Author Jordan Calladine