Short Story Fiction
Humor: The Main Ingredient in Cowboy Coffee

A Cub Reporter Story… Scott is a new “Cub” reporter for a small town paper.
This story is about his first assignment.

Some recipes called for an eggshell. Some called for the whole egg. Just crack it into the coffee and throw the shell in after it. I didn’t get it. Does it add to the flavor like cream and sugar?

The egg trick wasn’t the only one. I also found these bits of so-called “humor”…

Humor: The Main Ingredient...Janeb13/Pixabay

My boss stopped by my desk this morning. “Scott, have you heard of Cowboy Coffee?”

“No, can’t say that I have,” I replied. “But If you’d like me to find out, I’m on it.”

“I like your spunk kid. The story’s yours. Run with it. Lets see what you can do.”

“I won’t let you down, boss.”

He walked back to his office with an odd smirk on his face. I wasn’t sure what to make of it, so I shrugged it off.

Being my first assignment, I wanted to do it right. I fired up my computer and began by doing a little research.

Facts on the history of cowboy coffee were few and far between. I found this a little disheartening. The story was turning out to be a little harder to research than I thought. I did find quite a few versions on how to brew it. Most of it seemed to be nothing more than bad humor.

I certainly wasn’t seeing a story here.

I was beginning to think Cowboy Coffee was some kind of made-up campfire tale.

I was getting the impression my boss had sent me out on one of those fictional snipe hunts. After all I was the new guy and this was my first assignment.

I’m a coffee lover. I admit it. I love a good cup of fresh brew. I’m not talking about one of those expensive $tarbuck$ flavored coffee drinks. I’m talkin’ about plain old strong, black coffee. The real stuff. A double shot Americano without the cream is more my style.

From what I’ve been able to gather, cowboy coffee has at least one good trait. it’s strong. We have that much in common.

I kept looking. If I was going to write a good story I needed to find a good angle and I needed to find it fast.

As I continued my search, I happened across one article which stated that out on the range, the cook actually roasted green coffee beans by placing them in a skillet and holding it over the fire until the beans turned brown and began to crackle. A generous helping of the fresh ground beans were thrown into a pot of boiling water.

Some recipes called for an eggshell. Some called for the whole egg. Just crack it into the coffee and throw the shell in after it. I didn’t get it. Does it add to the flavor like cream and sugar?

The egg trick wasn’t the only one. I also found these bits of so-called “humor”…

Strain the coffee through an old sock.

I think it goes without saying that you should use a clean one.

The coffee should be so thick a six-gun or a horseshoe will float.

If you’re wanting to experience real authentic cowboy coffee, you need to make it over a real campfire, sit on the ground and drink it from a tin cup. Be sure to use the remaining coffee to extinguish the campfire.

As I’m reading this stuff I’m thinking to myself, this is all bullshit. Where am I going to find any real information?

If I’m going to write a great story my boss will love, I need to get out in the field and get at the truth. Do some real investigating.

I decide I need to go where cowboys hang out and actually drink some of this coffee.

I did one more bit of research and something intriguing pops up on my screen.

It’s a place called the Auction Barn. Cowboys and cattle ranchers go here to auction off their cattle and other farm critters.

Yes!, I’m in luck. There’s an auction starting in thirty minutes. I grab my coat and head for the door.

I get to the Auction Barn just as things are getting up to speed. It’s an inside arena complete with a small cafe and I’m sure they serve Cowboy Coffee here.

Before I try the coffee I decide to see how this auction thing works. I head past the cafe to the arena.

The cows are mooing and the place smells like dirt and cow poop.

A set of old wooden bleachers are filled with a crowd of what I can only guess are cowboys taking in the action on the arena floor before them.

Mostly older men in muddy boots, faded blue jeans and sweat stained cowboy hats. The rest are fairly well dressed in fancy boots and clean hats. Buyers and sellers I figure.

The auctioneer is rattling on incoherently as cattle meander around in the arena. I keep my hands to my sides. I’m here to buy a cup of coffee. The last thing I want to do is accidentally buy a cow.

I watch one get sold, then figure it’s time to get what I came for.

First a restroom call is in order.

If you’ve never visited the restroom at a cattle auction barn you’re in for a real treat, and I don’t mean that in a good way.

This place made a gas station restroom look clean.

I’ll spare you the details by just saying I feared for my good health as I stood in front of the urinal. I made sure to give it a healthy distance if there even was such a thing.

With that experience behind me I walked into the cafe. I took a seat at the counter and ordered a cup of ‘Cowboy Coffee’. The waitress gave me a quizzical look as she poured it.

“Are there eggs in your coffee?” I asked.

“Eggs? No, and I didn’t strain it through a sock either,” she replied sarcastically.

‘So, she knows about cowboy coffee’, I thought. ‘This has to be the real deal’.

Looking into the cup I realized there was no way a horseshoe could float on this stuff.

The waitress stood by and watched as I took my first gulp. My eyes opened wide.

Good God, should I spit it out or swallow it. With the waitress standing in front of me I made the wise decision to gulp it down.

“What do you think?” Asked the waitress. “Does it meet your approval?”

Not normally one to tell a bold faced lie, I reasoned with myself that I’ve never tried cowboy coffee before so I really wasn’t sure if this was good or bad. It’s what they served, so I assumed it was supposed to be good.

“Perfect,” I replied.

As soon as the waitress was distracted, I left. I’d like to say I left with a good taste in my mouth, but that would be another lie.

With what little information I had, I headed back to the office to write up my story.

~~~

Fifteen minutes after I turned it in, my boss called me into his office. With my story in his hand, he asked me to take a seat. He had a smile on his face which I took as a good sign.

He opened the conversation with a question. “Do you know of the coffee kiosk a couple blocks west of here?”

“No, I’m not familiar with it,” I confessed rather uneasily.

“It just changed hands and the new owners are calling it ‘Cowboy Coffee’.”

His smile grew wider as a queasy feeling in my stomach began to grow larger. I could tell he was enjoying the moment. He continued. “That’s the story I wanted you to write.”

He stopped talking and just grinned at me. Thinking the next words out of his mouth were going to be ones I didn’t want to hear, I just sat there not knowing how to respond.

I’m sure he could see me squirming in my seat.

He stood up and looked me square in the eye.

Here it comes, I thought. I’m fired.

He reached across his desk and handed me the story. “It’s not what I was after.”

Shit, he gave it back to me. I tensed up. Ready for the next words out of his mouth to be the last ones I hear from him before I’m booted out the door.

I was about to be humiliated and out of a job.

“To be honest, this is damn good writing. You made something out of nothing here and I’m impressed. I’ve decided we’ll go with it.”

As I walked out of his office. I was now the one with a smile on my face.

And there you have it. My first story, “Cowboy Coffee”,

Having the boss like my first story was good. The Cowboy Coffee… not so much.”

© Copyright 2023 by Scott A. Gese All Rights Reserved.


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