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With all the modern equipment at our disposal, anyone can make a nice cuppa joe at a moment’s notice. But at least once in your life, you owe it to yourself to try to make Cowboy Coffee.

Usually, “great” and “Cowboy Coffee” don’t belong in the same sentence. If you ask people who have made one or had one, the odds are high that you won’t be hearing them say “I drink it every chance I get!”. It’s supposed to be made with only the bare essentials on a camping trip, but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try and make it taste better than boiled dirt.

Cowboy Coffee doesn’t have to be synonymous with “bad”

RECIPE FOR DISASTER

The three things that most people get wrong about coffee is what gets Cowboy Coffee its bad rep, namely:

1. Putting in too much water or too much coffee beans. With this formula, you either get water with a hint of coffee or a coffee that’s too strong and bitter.

2. Putting in too much sugar, creamer, syrup, and other fancy stuff. You can always go to Starbucks after your trip.

3. Dumping your grounds in the pot and keeping it there from cold to boil. Now, that’s just a waste of good beans and makes for some coffee that’s more bitter than your ex.

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MAKING COWBOY COFFEE THE WAY IT’S SUPPOSED TO BE MADE

Cowboy Coffee, even without the tools you’re accustomed to when making your usual cup, shouldn’t be bad. All you need is a heat source, a pot, water, and good ground coffee. Once you have all the requirements, you’re set.

  1. Measure the water you need by pouring it in the mug that you’ll be using. Put the water in your pot and bring to a boil.
  2. After your water boils, remove the pot from the fire and let it sit for 20–30 seconds to lower the water’s temperature.
  3. Add one heaping tablespoon of fine-ground coffee for every mug of water in your pot. Stir the pot to mix the ground coffee with your hot water.
  4. Cover the pot and let it sit. After two minutes, stir the pot again then let it sit for another two minutes.
  5. Open the lid and sprinkle some cool water into the pot to help the grounds settle.
    Slowly pour the contents of the pot into mugs. Just be careful and make sure the grounds remain in the bottom of the pot.

Coffee generally tastes best when it’s poured and consumed right after brewing, and Cowboy Coffee is no exception. Letting it sit for too long will over-extract your grounds and make it too bitter. Because of this, it’s also better to make just enough for one mug per person, and brew a new one when needed.

For all the bad rap Cowboy Coffee gets, you can make it better. It may never be as good as home-brewed coffee, but you can still make a cup that will make your winter trip better.