Serious Eats: Drinks
Coffee Traditions: Cowboy Coffee
Whether you're thinking about making your home on the range or simply spending a weekend roughing it in the woods (or huddled in a pillow fort in your living room), a cup of joe's always close at hand—provided you've got ground coffee and a way to boil water.
Just ask a cowboy.
So-called "cowboy coffee" is one of the simplest ways to brew a pot of mud, and the extraction technique it uses—called "decoction," the simple act of commingling grounds with boiling water—is the basis for many other traditional styles of brewing. (Remember that egg coffee? Oh, and the Turkish style cup we enjoyed recently? Both decoction.)
To caffeinate like a cowboy, first you've got to be in the appropriate environment (namely, the great outdoors). Add the desired amount of coffee grounds to cold water in a small pot, and put over the heat to boil. (The coffee is preferably ground fresh, with your dose weight somewhere around 1.5 to 2 grams of coffee per ounce of water, depending on your taste). Once the brew boils, take it off the heat an add just a little bit of cold water to help the grounds settle (maybe 2 to 4 tablespoons). Pour slowly, to avoid stirring up the grounds again, and sip while watching the sun rise and listening to the birds chirp (or at least hearing the first garbage truck of the day).
Outdoor-gear superstores REI and EMS both sell a variety of wilderness-approved cooking and caffeinating gear; start with a small gas-powered range for ease and portability, like this mutipurpose kit that's as good for pots of java as it is for pots of beans. Be sure you pour off into one of them thar metal cups, too, just like "Wild" Bill Hickok would've. (Legend has it he liked his with just a splash of cream and one Splenda.)