Crushing an egg (shell and all), whisking it with freshly ground coffee, and boiling the mixture sounds gross. The result looks terrifying, too — like a hideous swamp creature gurgling in your pot.
However, the umber-red-coloured drink that results, called “egg coffee,” is almost free of bitter tannins and packs an extra-strong dose of caffeine.
I first heard about egg coffee from an article by Joy Summers at Eater, which explains how the US recipe came to Minnesota via Scandinavian immigrants. The goal? Turn weak, subpar coffee and hard water into a beverage greater than the sum of its parts.
New York City has great tap water, and you can find high-quality beans pretty much anywhere nowadays. But with the weather cooling and my curiosity piqued, I decided to try brewing my own egg coffee.
Here’s how I made it and what I learned during the process.
I don't have a stove-top coffee pot, which is ideal, but figured this one-quart pot would do the trick. Recipes for egg coffee vary between cultures, but hot water is a must. I put two cups on to boil.
Also required: coffee. Ground varieties from a can reportedly work well, but I used my favourite premium whole-bean roast, since I already had it at home.
One egg coffee recipe I saw called for 20 grams of ground beans, which is enough for two standard cups. So I measured it out...
Next, one egg. The idea behind this process is that albumin in egg whites can absorb coffee's tannins, cutting its bitterness.
Some recipes instruct you to use the whole egg, so I crushed the shell and added it, too. If you try this, I'd recommend washing the shell before you get cracking, especially with farm-fresh eggs.
In went the egg-water-coffee mix. Some recipes call for bringing the pot back to a rolling boil, then covering and setting aside for 10 minutes.
Keep an eye on the monster in your pot, especially if partially covering it. The egg-and-coffee mixture likes to boil over if heated at too high a rate.
Once brewed, pour one cup of cold water on top. The same way that colder, denser air sinks, the water will push your monster into the depths below.
You can use a coffee filter or fine-mesh sieve to filter the coffee, but I don't mind a little extra protein. So I ladled a few scoops of the liquid from the top of the pot into a mug.
The colour looked like weakly brewed coffee -- or even black tea. I was a little nervous that I'd just wasted precious minutes en route to my morning caffeine hit.
I skipped my usual spot of milk, which cuts bitterness by binding up tannin molecules in coffee. I didn't need it, though: The egg coffee was surprisingly smooth, non-bitter, and delicious. It reminded me of tea but gave me a strong caffeine buzz after just a few sips.
The albumin in the egg whites had absorbed most of the tannins, clarifying the coffee and dramatically cutting its bitterness while leaving all the precious caffeine behind.
The downside of egg coffee? The cleanup. But if you're hosting family and friends for breakfast, it'd be a fun treat -- especially if your guests see the swamp monster that made their tasty cup of brew.
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