By Roger Edison

During the first few years along the Cattle drives, roasted coffee beans were not readily available. The green Coffee bean would require roasting before use and the cook normally roasted up several days worth to have on hand. Green coffee beans will last years if stored in a cool dry area. However, roasted beans until canning did not stay fresh as long. Everyone who appreciates coffee knows the fresher the bean, the better the taste.

However, with the Arbuckle brothers, they patient a method to preserve roasted beans by coating in egg white and sugar during the 1865. Other coffee companies would follow with different blends of roasted coffee during the later trail drives. The morning began with the Chuckwagon cook getting up around three in the morning. He would take coffee pots from the spit and pour what was left over from the night before. Sometimes into perhaps the boiling stew for added flavor or use as a coffee marinade.

Adding fresh water to his pots he would bring to a boil and set aside the spit to stay warm. Good coffee should be 180 to 200 degrees (f) when the coffee is added. Cowboy coffee was strong using 2 1/2 cups of grounds per 20 cups of coffee or in modern 12 cup conversion, 7 tablespoons to 12 cups. The grounds were placed directly into the water to cook. After about 5 minutes, the coffee was done, but to serve the cook added one cup of cold water to the pot. This allowed the grounds to immediately settle to the bottom of the pot. Sometimes egg shell was placed in the pot to help the grounds settle but always cool water does the trick. The coffee was fresh, hot and served black. If you were a green horn, well sugar and dry dairy of evaporated milk may be added. But then, you had to deal with the real cowboys who would tease you as a green horn.

Depending on the crew size, pots normally were 20 to 36 cup types made in either copper, cast iron, tin or enamelware. Pots were never boiled dried and coffee was always on the spit when the Chuckwagon was not hitched up. Pots were washed daily and about once a week the inside cleaned with vinegar. Nothing truly taste better than a fresh cup of the cowboy coffee with the aroma of wood burning and the fresh roasted grounds brewing.

1 coffee
Cowboy Coffee from the Chuck Wagon

Photo provide from Cowboy Church, Waco, Texas
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