Cowboy Coffee: Brew From The Old Wild West

Cowboy coffee is an old fashioned beverage made by cowboy enthusiasts on the wild west trail. It is made by boiling coarse long-grained coffee beans with hot water, then slowly brewing it in a small metal cup.

Cowboy Coffee
Cowboy Coffee

The resulting beverage is stronger than instant coffee as it retains more of the flavor of the coffee grinds. The longer the beans are roasted, the more flavors and aroma are sealed in the bean. A typical cup may contain one teaspoon of the desired coffee essence per 8 oz cup.

A Little Coffee History

Outlaws invented the first version of cowboy coffee. These bandits would boil kettles full of water and serve it to their comrades after a long hard day of patrolling. The practice soon spread to other areas of the West and eventually to the rest of the United States.

While there are many versions of this beverage, there is one drink that deserves a place in every American’s memory bank, a hot cup of Joe. There are many variations on the original cowboy coffee recipe, but two stand out as being the best:

  • One uses instant coffee while
  • The other uses a slow-boil coffee pot.

Regardless of what you use as the heat source, the resulting coffee is always hearty, rich, and tasty. For a true “coffee” experience, try combining the two ingredients and brewing a pot over an open fire – you’ll taste the difference!

A Little Cowboy Coffee History
A Little Cowboy Coffee History

After the revolutionary war in 1812, tea was the symbol of British oppression of American colonists. Also, they rejected tea and became coffee drinkers. Coffee was a robust drink that provided more energy to them rather than tea. So, over time, it became the drink of choice for individuals in the west.

How The Cowboys In The Old West Drank Their Coffee?

Cowboys drinkers in the west like strong, scalding hot and barefooted (black) coffee. That’s why the cook did not remove the ground and added new grounds to the old to make it stronger. Also, coffee was served as a tradition after every meal. It was always strong and hot.

According to West Magazine, they called weak coffee dehorned belly wash or brown gargle. To work late at night, they drank coffee to gain energy.

Trail boss George Duffield wrote that his men were in the saddle for 60 hours straight during one storm. However, “hasty rations” of bread and coffee is what helped keep them going on the road.

Also, to build a strong bond between the communities, they drank coffee together around the fire. Talk about good times.

Further Reading

How Do You Make Cowboy Coffee?

Back in the old west, cowboys would head to the general store and get their ground coffee. These rough and tough cowboys made their coffees in an open fire or on a bed of hot coals.

So, if you have to make coffee for 10 to 12 people, then a 3 to 5-gallon pot of tinned iron, blackened by smoke, would be good.

You would pour the ground roasted beans into the pot, mix in water and wait until it started to boil. They would serve it piping hot.

Note: Some camp coffee men used a secret ingredient salt in their coffee (just a pinch).

What You Need:

  • Bed of hot coals
  • Large pot
  • Coffee grounds


  • 1/4 cup coffee grounds
  • 1-quart warm water


  1. Add the coffee grounds and bring to a boil. To prevent the water from boiling over, you can reduce the heat when boiling. Boil for about 4 minutes. Keep in mind, the longer the boil, the stouter the coffee.
  2. Remove the pot from the heat and let rest 2 minutes. Also, pour in a little cold water to settle the grounds.
  3. Serve hot.

What Is Kent Rollins Cowboy Coffee?

Kent’s ability to cook and transport folks to another time through vivid stories of cow camps and the cowboy life is yet another way that he is a truly unique character.

Cowboy Kent Rollins shows you in the video below how to make perfect cowboy coffee.

How to Make Cowboy Coffee

There are complaints about cowboy coffee; it’s like pudding, it’s stout, and it’s so thick. But Kent Rollins explained that if it is made right, it will be the smoothest coffee in the world and give you the best taste in the world.

Kent Rollins is from a lost time and a dying state of mind when life was simple and character was king.

Is Cowboy Coffee Bitter?

We all have those days, like Woody, where we ponder things. Things like cowboy coffee bitter. No, cowboy coffee is not bitter; it is actually smooth coffee. However, you must follow the simple instructions.

Plenty of people complain about cowboy coffee that it upsets their stomach. It can upset your stomach if the water is not boiled but lukewarm. So, keep an eye on the strength, pot, and the ground coffee used.

Best Cowboy Coffee Beans

1. Mayorga Organics Café Cubano Roast

Mayorga Organics
Mayorga Organics

100% Arabica, Dark Roast, Whole Bean, Specialty Blend Coffee Direct Trade Bold, Smooth, and Sweet Cup with a lot of body, displaying notes of vanilla and a sweet, syrupy smokiness all the way through to a robust, silky finish.

Certifications include: Kosher, Non-GMO Project Verified, and USDA Organic.
The Mayorga team travels to the sites of origin and works together with the small, certified organic farmers there to ensure the highest quality produce possible.

2. Kicking Horse

Kicking Horse
Kicking Horse

Kicking Horse Coffee, Cliff Hanger Espresso, Medium Roast, Whole Bean, Certified Organic, Fairtrade, Kosher Coffee.

Kicking Horse Coffee is well-known for their blends, and it’s apparent that their head roaster is a master at blending beans before and after roasting to bring out the best in each kind.

In a pre-roast blend, the beans are combined while still green; in a post-roast blend, the beans are combined after they have been roasted, which is why you could find both medium and dark beans in the same bag.

Best Cowboy Coffee Pots

1. Stansport Enamel Percolator Mugs

Stansport Enamel Percolator Mugs
Stansport Enamel Percolator Mugs

The Stansport Enamel Percolator Mugs are best Cowboy Coffee Pots that come with eight cups of coffee percolator and four 12 oz. mugs. It is very convenient to use and is ideal for camping, recreational vehicles or home use.

This pot is made up of a durable stainless steel rim and blue enamel finish that will last for years to come. It can be used for coffee, hot chocolate, and other hot drinks. You can make coffee, cocoa, and tea all in one pot using this Cowboy Coffee Pot.

Overall, the Stansport Enamel Percolator Mugs are very useful and practical for home use or traveling. I love the bright blue color of this pot. It adds a fun, modern look to your kitchen.

2. Stansport Coffee Pot (20 Cup)

Stansport Coffee Pot
Stansport Coffee Pot
  • Be prepared for anything with our camping essentials
  • Stansport provides camping products that are best for your needs and can help to make your next camping trip the best yet
  • Product Type: COFFEE MAKER
  • This is not a Percolator Coffee pot. It’s for making Cowboy Coffee
  • With our advanced camping gear, loaded with the latest innovative technologies, you’ll be ready to turn your adventure into the trip of a lifetime
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Sherry Harris

Sherry Harris, a bonafide coffee brewing and tasting enthusiast, is the founder of Coffee Shop Lady. She writes for regular coffee drinkers who like being informed about the best coffee beans from around the world, espresso machines, coffee makers, grinders, and delicious coffee drinks and recipes.