How to Brew
Coffee Like a Cowboy
Or less colorfully put:
Brewing Coffee with the Open Pot Method
The open pot method of brewing coffee is one of the
simplest, straightforward and probably choose one way of getting a cup of java from ground coffee beans.
However, I like calling it "cowboy coffee". I really think it sounds a lot more interesting. So here's
how to brew coffee like a cowboy.
The usual principles of brewing coffee apply. To get good
results, you need to use good quality coffee and good quality water at the right temperature.
All that's involved with this method is heating the water in a plain pot (although using an old
fashion enameled steel coffee pot add a certain amount of charm) to the correct temperature, stirring in the
ground coffee, waiting 4 - 5 minutes, then pouring.
Even as simple as it is, paying attention to a few details and knowing a couple of tricks will help
you get the best results.
Secrets of Brewing Good Open Pot Coffee
You can use any kind of pot or pan that you want, but it will
be easier to pour if it has some sort of spout. Also, it's good to stick with glass, stainless steel, ceramic
or enameled steel.
Any number of pots would do. If you're a minimalist, you could even use an empty coffee can with a
spout that into the rim and a coat hanger handle (in the hobo tradition).
I do suggest that you avoid aluminum because it tends to react with the coffee and add an off
Obviously, one issue is how you separate the brewed coffee from the grinds. Most of us don't like
our coffee with texture, if you know what I mean.
The first thing to pay attention to is the grind of the coffee. It should be a little on the coarser
side. The grind should be coarser than you would use for drip coffee and much coarser than the powder that's
appropriate for brewing espresso.
Once you stir in the coffee grounds, try not to move the coffee pot too much. Many of the grounds
will settle to the bottom of the pot while the coffee is brewing. If you pour carefully, they'll stay
Secrets for Getting Clear Coffee
Another trick is to pour a couple of tablespoons of cold water over the top of the coffee after it
has brewed. As a cold water sinks to the bottom of the pot it will take some of the remaining suspended
Something else to try is to crush a rinsed eggshell and mix it in with the coffee grounds. I'm not
sure if it's mind over matter, but it does seem to make the coffee both clearer and smoother
If the coffee still isn't clear enough for you, you could always pour through a few layers of
cheesecloth or even a standard paper or metal coffee filter. That doesn't seem to two authentic to me though.
I can see an old-time cowboy tossing some crushed egg shells into the pot but I have a little trouble
imagining him pouring the brew through a filter.
Even if it doesn't become your regular brewing method, give this approach a try. It's fun to play
with and good to have as alternative.
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