Cowboy Coffee is The Only Real Camping Coffee
The philosophy of cowboy coffee is pretty straightforward: forget to bring any coffee gear on your camping tip, spend a few minutes screaming at the void when you realize you forgot everything in the morning, then fill an open pot up with water and pour in your coffee.
This is the start of the greatest cup of coffee you will ever encounter. Not because of the taste, but because of the pure density of education and culture it creates around you. Feel free to pack your carefully constructed coffee kit, but first take a minute to hear why you are vastly underestimating cowboy coffee.
It’s a Simple Process for the Simple Minded
There’s something to be said for creating the perfect cup of coffee in the wilderness with your mad-scientist set of portable contraptions, but there’s also something to be said for waking up in the nut-clamping-cold morning and just tossing coffee grounds in a pot of water because if you try anything else right now you’ll somehow end up smashing your Chemex on a tent pole.
Gives You Something to Chew on
If you’re camping the way you should be, there’s no TV, or any kind of decent entertainment within twenty miles, which means you have nothing to do while you drink coffee. Cowboy coffee can fix that by creating an obstacle course of bitter grounds right inside your mouth. The minutes will fly by as you make futile sweeping gestures with your tongue to drink your over-extracted coffee without swallowing an entire tablespoon of grit along with it. You can’t get that kind of fun by drinking coffee made with a pour over or a portable espresso maker.
It’s Fun to Watch
Sure, there might be miles of picturesque forest around, where the sun is glinting off the clear river, and the early light might create colors through the trees and brush that you’ll never see at any other time except in that perfect dawning moment where all the pieces of nature seem to fall into a quiet harmony before your very eyes. But you’re still going to stare into a pot of boiling water and coffee grounds because it’s making neat little bubble patterns.
Cleans Your Teeth, Maybe
On the subject of grit, I’m open to the idea that all those coffee bean pieces coating your mouth are latching onto the remains of whatever candy or animal you roasted over the fire last night and didn’t bother to brush off because by the time you wanted to go to bed it was too dark to find your toothbrush and you thought “screw it, my entire body smells like smokey bear farts anyway,” and just fell asleep. Coffee grounds at least have the double effect of requiring a solid ten minutes of mouth rinsing to remove entirely, and make your breath smell like day-old cigarette ash, which is arguably better than smokey the bear farts.
It Improves the Taste of Everything Else You Put in Your Mouth
In the spirit of making yourself miserable on vacation so your regular life will seem better when you finally get back to it (which is the real reason behind backpacking), cowboy coffee creates the perfect base flavor to improve the rest of your day. You can count on nothing short of straight tree bark tasting more bitter or having worse texture than the coffee-ground soup you started the day with.
Puts Hair on Your Chest… and your ears, fingers, kneecaps, and teeth
In retrospect in could just be that I started drinking coffee around puberty anyway. But it felt like a perfectly logical string of cause and effect when my voice dropped a full octave and I turned into a welterweight bigfoot shortly after drinking coffee made in a kitchen pot.
It Frightens Bears Away
I’ve never actually seen a bear run away from a pot of cowboy coffee, but I’ve also never seen a bear when I’m making it. Considering it gives you quick access to a boiling pot of bitter poison at a time when you are biologically identical to an angry sloth, though, it seems reasonable to assume the bears have determined this is the activity of humans who have gone mad, and learned to keep their distance.
Sticks It to All Those Aeropress Nerds
“Oh, you have an Aeropress and a burr grinder at home with an electric kettle that lets you set the temperature to exactly 200 degrees Fahrenheit? Well I hope you also like drinking liquid rubber made on a campfire cobbled together with stray bits of rotten wood I collected on the way out here, you uppity hipster.”
It’s a Time-Honored Tradition
If it was good enough for cowboys, it should be good enough for us modern campers. And the same goes for sleeping with nothing but a bed roll, getting dysentery from unfiltered water, and dying from consumption.