“Cowboy” or Campfire Coffee

By , November 8, 2014

Lately, starting with the post Exploring Coffee’s “Magic Ratio”, I’ve been on a coffee jag, if you will. To wrap up the topic for the present, here’s how I make “cowboy” or campfire coffee, a rough-and-ready, simple way to make coffee, especially adapted to outdoor cooking, as the various names imply.

The secret to cowboy/campfire coffee is settling the coffee grounds before serving. You’ll immediately see why:

Just for some visual interest, my favorite coffee coaster (Photo: Mark A. Zeiger).

Just for some visual interest, my favorite coffee coaster (Photo: Mark A. Zeiger).


Cowboy or Campfire Coffee

1 ½-2 Tbsp of fresh ground coffee beans per serving

1 cup of cold, fresh water per serving

In a waterproof, heatable container, combine above and heat to simmer—very close to, but not quite boiling. Simmer for a couple of minutes, then remove from heat.

Settle the grounds with preferred method, including, but not limited to dropping one of the following into the container:

  • The shell of 1 egg (in as large, whole pieces as possible!)
  • A smooth, clean pebble, roughly silver dollar sized
  • A splash of cold water

Pour and serve immediately, stopping well short of the bottom of the pot to avoid the grounds.


I’ve never looked into the science of why these particular methods help settle the grounds. I prefer the eggshells, but have had good success with all of them. I say “help,” because anyone enjoying a cup of this kind of coffee must be prepared for, if not resigned to a good deal of extra roughage in the cup. For me, fond as I am of strong coffee, it’s part of the charm, but tastes differ.

No matter your preference, most will agree that a cup of this kind of coffee is greatly enhanced by fresh air and wild scenery!

4 Responses to ““Cowboy” or Campfire Coffee”

  1. Valerie Harris says:

    And….the smell of cooking bacon.

  2. Mark Zeiger says:

    Oooooh yeah!

    Friends, if you eat food, like I do, check out Michelle’s cousin, Valerie, The Foodie Medic! She’s on Facebook, and I believe she does catering in western Washington state, possibly beyond.

  3. Alice says:

    I enjoyed reading this post from Kent Rollins about cowboy coffee. He has a few different ideas.


    You can also just look up Kent Rollins Blog.

  4. Mark Zeiger says:

    Thanks for the tip, Alice. I don’t see much difference between what he does and my methods. He prefers to settle grounds with cold water, which I probably prefer, despite what I said about egg shells.

    His coffee cup looks like a very familiar style to me!

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