Another American, Courtney Frerichs, won the silver medal.
The 26-year-old American broke the Championship record as she clocked 9min 02.58sec in an event which will be remembered for Kenyan runner Beatrice Chepkoech inadvertently missing the first water jump.
Frerichs, a native of Nixa, Mo., finished 1.19 seconds behind, holding off defending champion Hyvin Jepkemoi of Kenya in a sprint to the end.
The woman who beat her to gold in Rio was world record holder Ruth Jebet of Bahrain, who led at the 1000m and 2000m splits. She crossed in 9:03.77, followed by Jepkemoi at 9:04.22.
It was here where Coburn seized her opportunity as she kicked on, completing the water jump easily before she found another boost in speed to clinch a superb triumph.
The fourth Jamaican in the semi-finals - Rochelle Burton - clocked 12.94 seconds for fifth place in the third and final heat.
Coburn and Frerichs stayed with the lead pack for the entire race before racing to the front on the final lap and then putting away the competition in the closing stretch of the race.
"The last two years at the Olympics and world championships in 2015, my last water jump wasn't very powerful and that was something that I really needed to work on", Coburn told NBC after the race. "So that's what I was thinking".
African runners had claimed gold and silver in the women's steeplechase at each of the past three world championships.
"Oh my goodness, what a race to be part of", she said.
"I felt very comfortable following her (Coburn)".
The former Olympic champion from Australia missed much of the past two seasons because of injury, but she produced the fastest time tin the semi-finals.
"My coach [Jerry Schumacher] had told me to just go for it", Frerichs said. "I knew she was going to execute an awesome race and there was just such an extreme level of comfort". The Kenyan went to London as the third fastest in the world.
Frerichs also competed in the steeplechase in last year's Rio Olympics, placing 11th. Kenya's Conseslus Kipruto won gold.