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Cowboy coffee is the pot at the rainbow's end

by Bryan Hendricks | December 20, 2015 at 2:36 a.m.

I've been wondering what to give the wonderful readers who visit this space every week for Christmas, and now I know.

How about the best coffee you've ever tasted?

Better yet, I'll show you how to make it yourself.

I'm not a coffee snob by any means, but next to water, it is my favorite beverage. I start every day with at least two cups, and I always have Thermos full in my deer stand or in my duck boat dry bag.

On float fishing trips I have been known to stop on a gravel bar in the middle of the day and brew up a quick cup on my handy little butane stove.

Of course, my road warrior coffee is usually rotgut pipe cleaner from convenience stores, and occasionally from trendy coffee shops. I brew my gravel bar coffee from bags. My home coffee is drip-brewed. Morning coffee on float fishing trips and at deer camp is percolated. Percolated coffee is better than drip-brewed, but it's all bitter and acrid. That's the price you pay for a caffeine jolt.

Miss Laura recently checked out a book from the Saline County Library titled, A Taste of Cowboy. Ranch Recipes and Tales From the Trail, by Kent Rollins. Miss Laura assimilated Rollins's wealth of information about Dutch oven cooking, but coffee is my domain, so she showed me Rollins's entry about his Cowboy Coffee.

"My most requested recipe is for coffee," Rollins wrote. "Folks can't get over how smooth it is. I've had people tell me they haven't been able to drink coffee because of their acid reflux or sensitive stomachs, but they're able to drink mine. Boiling takes the acid out of the bean and makes it smooth."

I tried it. It's easy and it is indeed smooth, gentle and delicious.

Fill a 3-quart graniteware coffee pot with water to the bottom of the spot.

Place the pot over high heat and allow the water to warm. When the water has warmed, pour in the coffee grounds.

Let the water come to a roiling boil. Reduce the heat to medium and boil for 2-3 minutes. Don't let the water boil over. Remove the pot from the heat and let sit for 1-2 minutes. Pour half to three-quarter cup of cold water down the spout to settle the grounds.

I don't have a graniteware pot, so I use the stainless steel carafe from my percolator. I boil about 32 ounces, which is enough to twice fill a 10-ounce Yeti Rambler tumbler, with some to spare for my two coffee-quaffing daughters. They like to add a little cocoa mix to theirs to make mocha.

The result is indeed a smooth, aromatic, easy-sipping brew that caresses the palate the way expensive designer coffees are supposed to do, but really don't.

As one who formerly indulged in expensive, designer coffees, I can tell you that its reputation is a marketed myth concocted to make you feel better about dumping a ton of dough on a measly cup of Joe.

Rollins, a working cook on ranches across the West, also cooks at cowboy festivals. His coffee is one of his biggest draws.

"People can be a little skeptical when they [look] at my well-worn pots," Rollins wrote. "But once they try my coffee, they are hooked. They can't believe how smooth it is."

Rollins recalled one fellow at a festival that seemed unsettled by his coffee and he asked him if there was a problem.

The man said that he was a coffee "snob" and imports beans from Venezuela. He proclaimed Rollins's coffee to be incredible, and he asked where he got his beans.

"I knew it was going to break the poor feller's heart when I told him, 'Wal-Mart,' and that I always serve Folgers.

"It's boiled coffee, but we can boil it another hour and call it Starbucks," he said.

Rollins said his well-seasoned pots are another key to great flavor.

"Just like my cast iron, they've never seen a drop of soap," Rollins wrote. "I simply rinse them with hot water, which helps them build a good, seasoned taste."

That settles it for me. The stainless steel percolator will suffice for a little while longer, but I envision a graniteware pot in my future. I've found them at only one place in town, and they cost about $30.

If you see me on a gravel bar somewhere, beach your canoe and pull up a chair. We'll talk smallmouth fishing while I boil you up a kick-butt cup of coffee.

Sports on 12/20/2015

Print Headline: Cowboy coffee is the pot at the rainbow's end


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