You know it’s good when you have to chew.
When it comes to the perfect cup of coffee, the school’s of thought are as varied as the number of buffalo chips on the prairie. Some like a light roast, with mellow flavor and high acidity. If you enjoy this type of brew, stop reading. Now. This is not for you. If you like your java with a kick that gets you through to the middle of next week, you have found a safe place to land among your people.
The American west was dominated by cowboys. Well, the livestock was, anyway. On the plains where the cattle grazed, hardships were many, and luxuries were few (if at all). A breed of man was initiated into what would be considered a modern day ‘rough-neck.’ Taking challenges head on (a bull by the horns, anyone?) and slowing down for nothing. You get the idea. These guys were tough as nails.
What do tough guys do to start their day? First, they piss in the river and get a bucket of water (from upstream, of course). Next, they throw a log on the smouldering fire, and fill a tin pot with the water. They add a copious amount of coffee grounds with their hands. The water is brought to a boil by the flames of the fire, and allowed to bubble for a few minutes. A glorious pot of cowboy coffee has been brewed. Cowboys would fill their cups and guzzle the brew, grounds and all. That, is how to start the day with a perfect cup of coffee.
So we continue the tradition of the American cowboy. Fill it, scoop it, heat it, drink it, chew it.
How was the west won? Chances are, it began early one morning – with a cup of coffee…Cowboy Coffee.
In order to understand cowboy coffee, one must go back to the 10th century and the legend of the goat herder who decided to boil coffee beans after he saw his goats get excited after eating some beans of the plant. A tradition to cross all of the oceans was born.
Fast forward to the golden age of the cowboy, roughly 1866 – 1886. At this time cattle herds ran on the prairie of the American West, and flourished. The price of beef was high in the North and low in the West, creating the need to move large herds of cattle many miles. Queue the American Cowboy.
The way of the west was rough and tumble, and every man for himself. The law was simply another obstacle to avoid or deal with, and nature was often an unforgiving and fickle beast. Cowboys would set out for weeks on end to drive cattle, and would deal with a huge range of difficulties, obstructions, and dangers on the American plains.
One of the many traditions of the cowboy was a hot cup of coffee. On longer drives, a cook may even be along with a chuck wagon in tow to provide simple and rustic meals for this tough breed. However, many a cowboy would fend for himself, including the ever important cup of Joe.
A metal can or kettle would be placed over a hot campfire and filled with water from a clean running stream. “Just a bit too many” coffee grounds would be dumped directly into the water and allowed to boil “just a bit too long” in order to achieve the perfect steaming cup of caffeinated goodness.
Fueled up and ready to ride, the American Cowboy was ready to face his day, whatever it would bring. While today’s Urban Cowboy faces different challenges, one thing is the same…the day begins with a great cup of Cowboy Coffee.