Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Coffee staple in cowboy life

I don’t speak until I’ve had some coffee in the morning. And I don’t want any of that fancy schmancy latte or whatever you call it. I want regular store-bought Folgers, thank you very much.

They say coffee won the West. According to my cowboy father, that certainly was true in his part of the West, which included big ranches and long cattle drives to the railhead. He had a pot on all day every day, and he taught me how to make cowboy coffee.

He was adamant about not putting the grounds into the water until after it began boiling — said if you put it in first the coffee would taste muddy. After the water is boiling well you add the coffee and stir. Let it boil awhile (however long you want according to how strong you want it) and then pour in about a cup of cold water to settle the grounds. It’s great.

Our family still has a big, blue, enamel-coated camp coffee pot, which I treasure.

In my work I often visit country people in their homes for interviews. They always have coffee on — real coffee, not weird stuff — and offer me a cup.

Once I had a magazine story assignment to visit and interview the owner of a famous American ranch. Although I was totally prepared and confident in my questions for him I still quaked a bit in my boots when I reached the guard house and told the guy the purpose of my visit.

The ranch office was huge with secretaries scattered everywhere, hard at work. I was ushered into his office in the back. By then the quake in my boots had reach my knees. The ranch owner, it turned out, looked like any other cowboy except for his monogrammed shirt.

And guess what he did? Just the same as every other cowboy I ever interviewed, he offered me a cup of coffee. My first question turned out to be intelligent and knowledgeable, which he obviously had not expected, because his eyes lit up and he even poured himself a cup as he answered.

The name, coffee, is said to come from the Kingdom of Kaffa in Ethiopia, where the plant first was found. There they call it “bunn” or “bunna.”

Until after the Civil War coffee was sold green, and it had to be roasted and ground up before being brewed. In 1865, the Arbuckle brothers of Pittsburgh changed all that by patenting a process for roasting and coating coffee beans with an egg and sugar glaze to seal in the flavor and aroma.

They were marketing experts, and shipped it all over the country in one pound sealed packages in wooden crates, one hundred packages per crate.

We’ve all heard the stories about cowboys claiming to have the “Arbuckle thumps” from too much, or too strong, coffee.

My cowboy dad always, I mean always, had coffee either made or brewing. Someone asked him one time, “Doesn’t that keep you awake at night?”

He smiled and replied. “It helps.” I’m that way, too.