Imagine sitting next to the river watching the sun light reflect on the canyon wall, digging your toes into the cool sand and drinking a warm, fragrant, earthy cup of Grand Canyon cowboy coffee. This is your morning ritual on a Grand Canyon raft adventure with Arizona Raft Adventures.
“Cowboy coffee” gets its name from the way cowboys might make coffee on the road. Cowboy coffee only needs coffee, water, a cooking pot and a heat source. Traditionally, cowboy coffee is made over a camp fire and the grounds don’t get filtered out.
We like Grand Canyon cowboy coffee on our expeditions. Not only does it add to the western frontier appeal of our great state of Arizona, but it is actually practical. We cannot take an electric coffee pot because there is no electricity. In addition, space is limited on the rafts. Therefore, serving up cowboy style coffee is practically a necessity. But, you won’t be disappointed.
It starts with a great coffee. If you know anything about AzRA, then you know we like to support local and small business. Therefore, we purchase our java from Flagstaff local coffee roaster, Toucanet Coffee. Not only is their brew full and flavorful, it is premium, organic, shade grown and fair trade.
Grand Canyon Cowboy Coffee Recipe
Water, coffee, a cooking pot, a heat source and a river guide.
Toucanet Coffee grinds our coffee a slightly coarser ground. A coarser ground bean stands up better to the heat resulting in a more flavorful cup of coffee. The river guide fill up a giant pot with water – about two thirds full. They put it on the blaster (the name of a giant gas cooker we use in camp – primarily for boiling water). The first guide awake in the morning turns on the blaster and begins boiling the coffee water.
Once the coffee water comes to a boil, the guide turns off the heat. After about 30-60 seconds, they pour the pre-measured bag of Toucanet Coffee into the hot water. It is important to wait a few seconds before adding the coffee. Adding coffee while the water is still boiling water can make the java bitter. Using a ladle, the guide gives the pot several thorough stirs to make sure the grounds are saturated. Then, puts the lid back on so the coffee can steep. As the coffee brews and cools, the grounds begin to settle.
Sinking the Grounds
There are many ideas on the best methods to sink the grounds in cowboy coffee. However, in the Grand Canyon, we prefer to take off the lid and gently swirl the ladle on the top of the coffee. As the air cools the grounds, they naturally sink to the bottom of the pot. As the sweet, rich fragrance of coffee fills the morning air, guests begin to hover around the coffee pot with their AzRA mugs in hand, waiting for the coffee call. Your guide decides the coffee is ready. They may sound the coffee alarm in the form of a drawn-out hollering “Caaaaaaw-feeeeeee!” Or, perhaps the guide blows the conch shell sending a bellowing echo across camp.
Serving Grand Canyon Cowboy Coffee
It is important to remember at this point, while it might be ready, the coffee is still very hot. It is also good to note that there is a good inch or so of grounds in the bottom of the pot, and grounds are still sinking. Therefore, ladle off the top rather than scooping down to the bottom of the pot. Also, ladle slowly as to not stir up grounds. No matter how careful you are, there are still grounds floating around. Which means you probably have grinds in the bottom of your own cup. For this reason, many guests like to dispose of the last splash before going back in for the second cup.
Starting The Day Out Right
For coffee drinkers, AzRA’s morning coffee hits the spot. If you like a little milk and sugar, we have you covered. If you don’t drink coffee in the morning, we provide hot water for tea and hot cocoa mix. There may even be some cold juice. Whatever your pleasure, we want you to take a few minutes each morning to enjoy your beverage of choice and watch the Canyon awaken. It’s the start of a new day of adventure!
A Souvenir With Memories
At the beginning of each expedition, we provide a complimentary drink mug to each guest. Take your mug home at the end of your trip and show it off to your friends or co-workers as you tell the tales of your adventure. Or, perhaps you like a more classy souvenir? Check out our collection of local and hand-made AzRA logo stoneware mugs.
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Some of the best coffee I ever had. Of course, dishwater may have tasted pretty good in that setting. Similar to the “side-boiled” coffee my father-in-law made on a campfire. Any way to purchase an AzRA mug like we used on the trip – mine is in sad condition from constant use and abuse. Hope to earn one on another trip in the not to distant future.
I’m with Rick! I LOVE my AzRA mug and want more! Would love to know if I can purchase!
It brings back lots of GOOD memories. Hope all is well in the canyon.
Do you also make coffee after or with the evening meal? I love my coffee after dinner.
Hey Brian, guess you know the answer to your question now! We had a great time on The River!
I was 72 when we started down the Grand for a 2 week adventure. If I live to be 101 I will never forget those 2 weeks. the adventure, the views, the wildlife and, most of all, the crew and fellow travelers. Thank you Arizona Raft Adventures for allowing this old fart to fulfill a life-long dream!
So how do you make a vanilla latte?
My 9-day trip in 2015 was the best possible father-daughter event as my two young ladies moved off into adult-hood. The hike down the Bright Angel trail and the days paddling along the river are memories they will carry with them for the rest of their lives. Letting my younger daughter (the trumpet player) blow the conch for coffee in the mornings was great. Now, if you could just post the recipes for those fantastic desserts…..Thank you AzRA.
Maybe we can post a recipe for you soon! Which dessert was your favorite?
I went down the river in 2016 with Arizona Raft Adventures. I loved every minute, and I loved my complimentary thermos, but I misplaced it. I’d like to replace it, but it doesn’t appear to be for sale in the shop. How can I get a new one?
Lovely idea – cowboy coffee. Where can I get that AZRA insulated stainless steel coffee container/mug? Mine has long lost the label, and the plastic cover is pretty much worn out. Even so, it holds the drink hot longer than any other that I’ve tried.
I have a million wonderful memories of our trip down the canyon, but the sound of the blaster starting up at the crack of dawn is one of my fondest.
Thanks for bringing me back to that first cup in that special canyon!
My husband won’t drink anything but Toucanet Coffee! We actually had the pleasure of meeting the guys on a trip through the area. We love this company and especially Bill. Good people doing good things. http://Www.toucanetcoffee.com