Especially when the weather turns chilly, there is just nothing like a good cup of coffee to warm the body and soul. Many friendships, romantic relationships, business dealings, and family discussions happen over a cup of coffee. Many cowboys would use the pick-up line, “Wanna go for a cup of coffee?” to secure the first date. That question is still used to start many relationships to this day. There are basically four types of coffee. The normal drip or pot coffee, the “foo-foo coffee” from a coffee shop, the percolator coffee, and the cowboy coffee version round out the choices.
My first encounter with cowboy coffee was when I stopped in to see Cecilia Sherwood after the passing of her husband, Jean. The Sherwoods were good, salt-of-the earth people and I wanted to offer my condolences. She invited me in and had a pot of coffee on the stove with a spout and handle. She offered me a cup and told me that she had put a raw egg into the coffee. I was not sure what that was all about, but I sat and drank with her anyway. Further investigation determined that the raw egg was put in to trap the grounds at the bottom. Some people just put the eggshells in and not the whole egg. It was actually quite tasty. My next experience was a pot of coffee made over a campfire by my sister-in-law during a camping experience. You might take your coffee and eggs separately at breakfast, but combine your Java with an egg or leftover eggshells, and the flavor will pleasantly surprise you. This isn’t a weird brewing hack, but a science-based trick that seriously improves the taste. How can eggshells help? Broken eggshells work wonders because they draw the grounds to settle to the bottom. But that is not the only reason. Eggshells are naturally alkaline, so they balance the acidity of the brew, providing a deeply-satisfying taste.
I remember as a little girl traveling down the highway to rodeos and seeing signs at rest areas that said “Coffee 5 cents” and my folks would stop and get a cup. Nowadays, with all the add-ons, one can spend up to $8 on a cup of coffee and consume 800 or more calories. These types of coffee are borderline desserts and don’t really fall under the “cowboy way.”
So, here is to the working cowboy that rises early and starts the day with a good cup of coffee. This warm dose of caffeine helps give them the energy they need for the tasks at hand. These cowboys may never compete in a rodeo, but they get their cup of Joe and go check cattle, get on colts, ride the feedlot pens, doctor the sick animals, fix fence, gather, sort, and move the herd wherever necessary. These cowboys work the sale barns and the sorting alleys. Sometimes, the only friend they have all day is their dog. May you buckaroos always have a good cup of coffee.