A cowboy will tell you this is not only a necessity but it’s a given at the wagon: good coffee. It’s the first thing on the fire in the morning and the last thing off every night.
Now there are all kinds of coffee making gadgets nowadays: The spitting, spewing, drip coffee maker that often sounds as loud as the Beagle snoring at night. There’s the percolator, which is about extinct, but was one of my favorites for a long time. There’s the fancy ones that make a fast cup at a time, but try that at the wagon and you’ll get a *chapping. But for me it’s my old reliable graniteware coffee pots. No gadgets, knobs, beeps or spits – just good boiled coffee. I prefer Folger’s but any brand will do.
Sometimes I forget what a mysterious thing good cowboy coffee is to some folks. I’m reminded every year while Shannon and I cook for a festival at Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missouri. At this festival we can serve up easily 300 cups of coffee a day.
We have folks come by everyday and they usually are a little skeptical at first glance looking at my ol’ warn pots, but once they try the coffee they are hooked. They can’t believe how smooth it is, and I tell them when you boil coffee it boils the acid out of the bean and it becomes smooth. Folks will tell me, “I can drink your coffee because it doesn’t give me heart burn.” I just look at them and say well its boiled coffee, but we can boil it another hour and call it Starbucks!
I noticed one day a feller came and got a cup of coffee and stood over in the corner. He came back for a few more cupfuls and just kept assessing the situation. I finally went over to him and asked, “Your coffee alright, sir?”
He replied, “I have to tell you I’m a coffee snob. I am very particular about my coffee and I have to import it from Venezuela to get the right kind. You’re coffee is incredible, so I must ask where do you import your coffee from?”
I knew it was going to break the poor feller’s heart when I told him, “Wal Mart.”
You could see the disbelief and agony on his face. “I don’t drink Folgers!” he demanded. “Well sir, you just drank about six cups!” I answered.
We had a good laugh about it, but it just goes to show that you don’t need gadgets, gizmos or high price coffee to have a good cup.
Boiled coffee has been around forever I think there are a lot of folks that have never had the chance to taste it or knew how to make it.
What’s the recipe you ask? Coffee, water and fire.
I was on the Gulf Coast of Alabama cooking for a festival and making about 20 gallons of coffee every day. One feller was at the wagon each and every morning, and he wanted me to teach him to make this black magic that was so smooth. I explained to him you fill the pot up to the bottom of the spout and let the water warm. Add about three handfuls of coffee and let it come to a hard rolling boil. Pull it off the fire and let it set for a minute and then pour about a cup of cold water down the spout, which will settle all the grounds to the bottom. A lot of people ask me, “Did you put the grounds in pantyhose?” I sure don’t use that method, because who wore the hose before I got them? No eggshells or horseshoes either, why mess with all that other stuff when cold water will do the trick to settle the grounds.
Anyway, as I was saying…
The feller from Alabama responded, “That’s all you do? It’s so simple.” Well next morning there he was a waiting for me at the wagon for his morning 12 cups of coffee.
I said, “Well I guess you’re full of coffee since you probably made you some at home.” He looked a little disappointed and said, “I couldn’t drink it. You must have told me something wrong or left something out of the recipe.”
I asked, “Did you fill the pot below the spout with water and let it warm, then add three handfuls of coffee? Let it boil and then pour some cold water down the spout?”
“Yep, but it was so stout I couldn’t even stir it ‘cause it was so thick.”
So I asked the obvious question, “How big is your pot?”
He looked at me and said, “It says 4 to 6 cups.”
I just looked at him and grinned and said, “Well sometimes you have to be smarter than what you’re messing with!”
I guess part of the secret too is my well-seasoned pots. Just like my cast iron, they’ve never seen a drop of soap and they’ve served thousands of gallons of coffee to cowboys and people just anxious to try a sip of history.
Get yourself a rolling boil and try it out, ‘cause I guarantee you there’s nothing better than a good cup, a good porch and a good sunrise to start the day.
UPDATE: We’ve had a lot of folks ask about the coffee to water ratio. On my pots it’s roughly 2 gallons of water to 1 1/2 cups of coffee grounds. Once that has boiled, let it set and pour about a 1 – 1 1/2 cups of cold water down the spout.
*chapping: When a cowboy is beaten on his backside with a pair of leggings or chaps (pronounced shaps). Usually done in joking, but can be used as a method to put a man in his place or for an attitude adjustment.