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 By Bennett Owen

Photo courtesy of J. Stephen Conn

Now here’s a recipe, time tried and true
For chuck wagon coffee, a buckaroo’s brew
Add water and coffee in equal parts
Then set on a fire, that’s how the deal starts
Boil hard for two hours then into it toss
A well-rusted horseshoe from a clubfooted hoss
Stare into the pot a few minutes steady
If the horseshoe ain’t floatin’ your coffee ain’t ready

Kathy Lee  (Thank you, whoever you are!)

© From the collection of Gordon Berry

OK, part one was the history lesson, now here’s the “how to.”  First up, the Colorado Cattle Company:

And here’s another one from the icon of cowboy coffee, Arbuckles’.  Make a pot of coffee and clean your socks at the same time! Mmmmm, Good:

Photo courtesy of the Utah Historical Society

Neither of the above recipes mentioned the infamous eggshell and yet many cowboy brewers swear by this ingredient. Some say it’s to settle the grounds, while others will tell you it’s to take the bitter edge off.  Well, here’s the definitive answer by none other than author John Steinbeck:

“I went into my house and set coffee to cooking, and remembering how Roark Bradford liked it, I doubled the dosage, two heaping tablespoons for each cup and two heaping for the pot. I cracked an egg and cupped out the yolk and dropped shells and white into the pot, for I know nothing that polishes coffee and makes it shine like that.

The air was still very cold, and a cold night was coming, so that the brew, rising from cold water to a rolling boil, gave the good smell that competes successfully with other good smells.”

John Steinbeck, Travels With Charley         

That’s not a recipe for coffee. That’s a recipe for happiness.

President Roosevelt's cowboy breakfast at Hugo, Colorado. Library of Congress

This song is by ‘The Arbuckle Boys’ from Texas…give it a listen and you’ll see why.  The video is chock full of gorgeous images and well worth the three minutes:

Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress

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